[Osmf-talk] design

SteveCoast steve at asklater.com
Fri Dec 16 19:41:25 UTC 2011

We talked at the board meeting a fair amount about design and user engagement on osm. The continuing frustration of new users is a personal interest of mine plus there was a lot of dissatisfaction with how the current site has evolved to be where it is. No doubt it has served us well over the years but personally I've thought for some time it needs an overhaul.

Design and user interaction are perhaps one, if not the, weak point of open projects. We have tried a few times to push this point and generally speaking each time it didn't work.

Rather than try the same approach, I'm trying something new. I've set up two projects on crowdSpring to solicit ideas for both the main website and also the logo. crowdSpring is essentially a competition amongst designers to make something for you (a logo, print materials, things like that). You give feedback on ideas and iterate towards something useful.

I have written briefs and made sure that the projects are open, in that anyone can go to crowdSpring and see all the info (as far as I'm aware you should be able to see everything). The foundation will award about $1100 for a winning site design and $500 for a logo. Of course, it's open to anyone to apply including the thousands of people on crowdSpring already.

Does this mean we will automatically use whatever wins? No. Command and control of the website and its future does not lay with me. I'll do my best to make some great stuff happen but ultimately I'm not in charge.

Who picks what? crowdSpring allows three methods of feedback. One is project updates visible to all the creatives submitting ideas. One is specific feedback including a star rating out of 5 plus a text box for each individual idea. The last is votes. You may select up to 10 designs and put them to closed or public voting.

Only one person as far as I can tell can provide that feedback. My plan is that if this is interesting to people here then I will collect and pass on your feedback, perhaps distilling it if for example more than one person has the same point to be made. I'm happy to take feedback on the brief that's posted, individual ideas that are posted, narrowing down to the top 10 or less ideas and then voting.

Projects are limited, I think, to two weeks plus a one week extension and this should be reflected on the posted projects.

Once something is picked, what then? It depends. The first thing to decide is if the winning logo and the winning site design can be part of the same voice. The logo itself is fairly simple in that we get the original photoshop files and we can then use them as needed. The site itself will simply come back as similar image-like files. These need to be turned in to html and css. I'm not going to burden the community with this, although you're welcome to help. I'll probably pay someone on oDesk to turn it in to a functioning site and then someone else to port it to rails. This exact process is up for discussion, I'm just making clear that I'm not inherently expecting anyone to help.

I'm very happy for anyone to extend this discussion and feedback to talk@, design@ (I think), the wiki and so on but again I'm not expecting it.

If the logo and the site do work together than there is an extra step of feeling out exactly how they do, or to use our existing logo, or whatever. If we end up with just terrible designs (which is not my experience of crowdSpring) then of course no extra steps will be taken to turn them in to a functioning site.

Ultimately no design, user experience or logo will make everybody happy and this process is not designed to make everyone happy. Everyone in OSM has a voice in helping make this work and I look forward to seeing what comes of it.




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