Season of Usability - Usability students get involved with Open Source

Season of Usability - Usability students get involved with Open Source

Post by el.reitmay » Sat, 03 Nov 2007 01:51:14

First Season of Usability finished successfully!

Season of Usability is a series of sponsored student projects to
encourage students of usability, user-interface design, and
interaction design to get involved with Freee/Libre/Open-Source
Software (FLOSS). During a 3 to 6 month collaboration, students work
closely together with key developers from FLOSS projects to improve
the user experience of the application. The results of the first
Season of Usability are now published on the official website:

Usability and Open Source (FLOSS) projects can highly benefit from
each other. In the informal setting of a FLOSS project usability
specialists can develop their skills and create show cases for their
customers, while the software gains an optimised user experience.
Still there are little intersections between the two disciplines - few
examples include OpenUsability [2], the FLOSS Usability Sprints [3]
and usability groups of bigger FLOSS projects such as KDE or Gnome.
The entry threshold for usability specialists is high - in FLOSS
projects, responsibilities for user interface design often are not
clearly defined, it is hard to get started.

Season of Usability is an attempt to lower the entry threshold for
both sides and get usability folks into FLOSS development. Students -
who benefit most from practical experience - start their work with a
viable task scope which is developed in agreement with the lead
developers. Students are mentored by an experienced usability
specialist, and the whole team meets regularly. Some universities
accept the student project to gain credits, and it is even possible to
write a diploma thesis in this scope. After successful accomplishment
of the task, the students receive a small gratuity.

The first Season of Usability took place from November 2006 to June
2007. Five applications from different fields of application were
analysed along usability issues, and parts of the user interface were
redesigned. The results were welcomed by the FLOSS developers, and
several students continued their work after the official project
period had ended.

The results of the projects, including screenshots and work material,
are now published on the official Season of Usability website [1].

The next Season of Usability is planned for Spring/Summer 2008. To
participate - either as a student, FLOSS project, usability mentor or
sponsor - get in touch with us:


Inspired by Google's Summer of Code [4], OpenUsability joined up with
FLOSS Usability, Aspiration [5] and the Open Society Institute [6] to
offer a number of sponsored student projects. Other than the Google
projects that address developers, they aim at students of usability,
user-interface design, and interaction design. Students experience the
interdisciplinary and collaborative development of user interface
solutions in international software projects while getting into FLOSS