Comment 478 for bug 532633

Jeff Burns (admiraljkb) wrote :

Pako, Pako, Pako...

My friend, you misinterpret me. But trust me, I understand what you are saying. 10 years ago I'd be with you on this debate/argument because I didn't have experiences that I do now supporting UI related stuff. Change is good right? Well maybe not sometimes... So when I say this is too small a change, it's because the change is incomplete, and just isn't worth expending Mark's precious political capital over at least until the feature is COMPLETE. There's a time to fight, and a time to strategically withdraw. This is the latter. Later it can be unveiled again when we've got a carrot, but until then I NEED that carrot to explain this change to my users that I support. Incomplete UI changes just don't work, you either have to go whole hog so something has demonstrably happened (again the carrot), or do nothing at all. I'm not against the UI changing. Gnome 3 so far looks really cool, and I've been an early adopter/tester of KDE4 in Kubuntu (and everyone who did knows how painful that was), and filing several defects along the way doing my part to help get it to something reasonably stable today, and I like KDE 4 better than Gnome as a personal preference. I'll probably start testing Gnome3 when I get a chance. I like most of the advanced interface in the new KDE, and probably will like Gnome3 as well. I don't like this small "button change", but I don't hate it either. It's a "meh" for me *personally*. But don't get my professional and personal preferences confused. Because they are different by necessity, as are a lot of IT guys out there who have to support one thing for the common good, and prefer something else on their own desktops. The reason why my professional and personal opinion differs is below.

I used to be IT, and now I'm in a Dev/Sustaining role for the last 10 years roughly. I've supported UI's now for close to 10 years and will give you a quick simplified example from my past that was on something quite similar. I've been on the front lines when a usability change was made on a product for one customer (with a proper defect for the change) that made reasonable sense and was logical, and we massively honked off 10 other major customers (or more). Their admin/secretaries use this tech stuff every day heavily (and have the ears of executives) and get quite cranky when things move since they run on auto-pilot on nearly everything from computers to phones. I mean absolutely enraged because two silly buttons moved and it interrupted their work processes. Many of my counterparts (including me) laughed at this controversy, because the buttons that moved were CLEARLY marked. I mean moving silly buttons around generated that much rage? Jeeesh. But after a second trip around and near death threats because people's "cheese got moved" I've learned to respect that average user, and secretaries in particular, regardless of my own sentiments. Much of the time you can swap out the ENTIRE OS, or their desktop phone and they'll get over it because it is something totally new and it's expected to relearn, (provided what goes in makes sense to them for how to navigate the product, and you still get grumbles). Move something small on an existing application or on the existing phone? Forget it, unless you get their buy in. They go ballistic. Keep them happy, the others in an organization fall in line normally, including their boss. :) If the boss's admin ain't happy, nobody's happy. This is where we are at with Ubuntu now. It's not longer the cool "hobbyist OS" at home, but it's actually moving into the more mature corporate space where we can't be quite as cavalier as before. That uptake has been accelerated largely thanks to the MS Vista debacle. Personally and professionally, I now have a bit of skin in how Ubuntu turns out.

My wife was a secretary/admin for years, and has that type of mindset. She's brilliant for running UI related stuff by on nearly anything, particularly since she's part of one of the bigger target audiences regarding UI features. I keep telling her she needs to be a tester since she understands this UI preference stuff better than I, at least for what pisses people off. I had issues converting her to Ubuntu, but not too many overall. Some stuff was different, but overall it was close enough and logical enough that it didn't honk her off. (getting her to OpenOffice was a little interesting, until I showed her MS Office 2007, and no complaints since...). I did unveil this to her yesterday evening, without letting my preferences be known. It didn't go well... She was much angrier than anticipated. I truly didn't expect more than an eye roll really, because it's not that big a change right? Instead I got expletives, and "why the hell are they moving my buttons??!?!?!, can't they leave anything along!?!?!?" Generally whatever her reaction is, has been pretty dead on for the average secretary and admin who have exec's ears. Those execs are what approve budgets, and if their admin gives them a bad impression of it, they won't be writing checks to support it, or authorize support staff for it. This isn't a issue of logic per se, it's an issue of folks' emotions (sometimes irrational as they are), and applying logic to it just stokes the fire.