Topic on Talk:Wikimedia Developer Summit/2017/Topic ideas

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RobLa-WMF (talkcontribs)
This is the text of the "Usability" section of WikiDev17/Topic ideas as of this writing

How can we make our websites better learning environments?

The MediaWiki UX for readers hasn't changed much in a decade and it is showing an age. Meanwhile, in the internet... What needs to be done in our platform to enable a UX update?

Easier login to Wikimedia wikis allowing users to control their on-wiki identity (e.g. login using e-mail address, case-insensitive login, "display name").

Merge the different feeds for the tracking changes pages (history, usercontribs, recentchanges, watchlist, logs, etc) to allow for easier maintenance and improvements. This would make it easier to add simple "re-designs" (layout tweaks, that can be toggled on/off) to all pages at once. This would make it easier for newcomer editors/readers to understand the contents of the various pages.

Fora: usability mailing list readers and participants

Qgil-WMF (talkcontribs)

Usability has a precise meaning, and reading the description I can see the intent, but it will probably confuse both those interested in usability and those interested in the UX revamp and the features mentioned.

I still think the UX refresh and what is stopping it is a topic that outweights all the rest by large, and I would focus on that. However, that iseasy for me to say since I am not involved in any of the teams responsible of pushing the user experience of Wikimedia users further. @Sherah (WMF), your opinion is welcomed here. Do you think that the time is good to pull a main Summit topic? This would imply wide participation of UX designers, frontend engineers, the mobile web & apps developers, probably also Research / Design research and even people who can represent editors and readers.

Strainu (talkcontribs)

Why only the refresh and not UX improvements (by updates, experiments and uniformisations)? UX refresh sounds like a very narrow, specialized topic.

Cscott (talkcontribs)

There seem to be a few different interpretations of "Usability" which are being mixed. Here's my attempt at disentangling them:

  1. "Assuming the functionality of the site is completely unchanged, how can we refresh the UX to make it more usable"? This includes "layout tweaks" and "UX refresh" mentioned above.
  2. "What are the sorts of things we'd *like* to do with the site which our current UX is preventing us from doing?" This includes Rob's "Easier login to Wikimedia wikis".
  3. (Orthogonally) "What sorts of non-UX refactoring could we do to facilitate UX experimentation?" I think this would include Rob's "merge the different feeds for tracking changes" and gwicke's client-side frontend experiments, as well as perhaps ideas about creating forked wikis with alternate UX for different use cases, in the way that we currently do for mobile.
Sherah (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Thanks, Cscott. These are true.

1) See my comments below (I posted before I saw this) about the term "refresh." I would challenge us to think more about sustainable systems that allow us to constantly improve our experience on an ongoing basis.

2) This is, in a nutshell, what I do for a living. :) To put it very simply (because this response could get way too long), over the last three quarters I have spent the majority of my time interviewing users of our Web platform (mobile and desktop), as well as Android and iOS apps, to assess workflows therein for pain points and opportunities for improvement. I then take those findings to PMs and engineers to re-implement if necessary, with the help of designers on how to re-implement. I think the Summit is a good place to show our processes since we do not have these practices on other teams and everyone isn't up to speed on our approach/where we are right now with such processes. We could also find opportunities to improve said processes with community/engineering feedback.

3) Sweet! I'd love for UX and Engineering to work together on problems like these.

Sherah (WMF) (talkcontribs)

I'd also like to add that I think that Developer Experience (devs are users too!) is an important area we could use a ton more energy around improving. I would be more than thrilled to work on that issue; I think the Summit could be a great place to gather structured feedback to start working on problems around this area.

Sherah (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Hi RobLa and Quim,

Throughout the Foundation, there are many valuable ideas for modernizing the user experience, and some of those are echoed here by RobLa. I tend to shy away from referring to our ongoing UX work as one big “UX Refresh,” because that term could imply that this is A) a one-time fix that we might revisit again in 20 years to “refresh” again, and/or B) a superficial and skin-deep change (literally *and* figuratively). Rather, I’d love to think of the work as iterative, and parallel with engineering from an idea’s inception; after all, we are community- and user-centered, and need mechanisms in place that allow us the flexibility to improve on an ongoing basis. 

To Quim’s question, “Do you think that the time is good to pull a main Summit topic? This would imply wide participation of UX designers, frontend engineers, the mobile web & apps developers, probably also Research / Design research and even people who can represent editors and readers.” -

Yes I do. The roles covered by the name “UX” include an array of talents - engineering, visual design, product design, interaction design, qualitative and quantitative research, and communications. Together, we work very closely with engineers to improve and iterate our products, yet as most of the roles under the “UX” umbrella currently live on the Reading team, many outside that realm aren’t up to speed on our strategy, goals, processes, responsibilities, etc.

As the Foundation grows from its former engineering-focused roots into a more robust and inclusive organization that makes Wikipedia & its sister projects more and more accessible to its new readers and editors, we will experience growing pains but they are worth facing now, and I think the Dev Summit is a very good place to start with aligning on these principles and values.

RobLa-WMF (talkcontribs)

Thanks, @Sherah (WMF), this seems like a clear area for inviting wider collaboration. Your point about improving our developer experience is also a good one. We need to make our system more understandable, so that more people can participate in improving it.

Cscott (talkcontribs)

A final related topic: how to improve our communication and relationship w/ the community so that UX changes aren't lightning rods for controversy? This is partly related to the "UX refactoring" topic, in so far as our efforts to date have involved turning UX tweaks into "beta features" that users can enable or disable at will -- but I think the actual "communication relationship" topic is a bit broader than that. We don't want to have to maintain a "mediawiki as it looked in 1997" skin for ever. We need a more sustainable long-term strategy and a bit of a culture change/relationship reboot so that we're not as afraid to touch the skins.

Sherah (WMF) (talkcontribs)

+1000! This echoes what I say above nicely. Some teams have been working on these issues in various ways but I'd love a more cohesive, scalable solution set in place especially as the changes become more frequent.

Sherah (WMF) (talkcontribs)
Qgil-WMF (talkcontribs)

@Sherah (WMF) and others, indeed, my idea of "refresh" is too limited and actually misleading. Thank you, I have learned something in this discussion already.

What about "Building a sustainable user experience together".

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