Ubuntu doesn't pass contentconsumer's "girlfriend test"

Bug #223436 reported by Ryan Prior on 2008-04-28
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
ubuntu-meta (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

Binary package hint: ubuntu-desktop


We know that there are lots of places where usability could be improved in Ubuntu and Gnome in general. The article linked above deals specifically with a case where a non-techie girlfriend is asked to perform common tasks, unaided, during her first experience using Ubuntu.

This is a meta-bug for all the issues specifically raised in that article, including:

* Make it possible to install Flash if the first website visited is YouTube.
* Change the name of Transmission's icon to include its function.
* Include a way to search torrent trackers without having to know about them beforehand. (I suggest beta.legaltorrents.com personally)
* Include a "paint"-like program and give it a name clearly outlining its function.
* Include well-known formats in "save as" menus, rather than "export" menus.
* Make it easier to identify a partition belonging to another operating system, ie "Windows Partition" rather than "492.8GB Media".
* Rename "filesystem" to make it clear what is there, or include explainer text of some sort.
* Make sure that the screen resolution can be changed even at very low screen resolutions.
* Encourage The GIMP to include a UI more familiar to Adobe users.
* Encourage Pidgin to make it easier for people to add their instant messenger accounts - especially people who don't understand the concept of a multi-protocol IM, don't know the term "Screen Name", "Local Alias", etc.
* Generally create help screens that give hints as to how to perform common tasks, tailored to the commonly used GUI applications included in Ubuntu and to a novice user. (The developer documentation in Ubuntu is great, I think!)

Scott Ritchie (scottritchie) wrote :

It looks like the Transmission issue was intended to be fixed already, there's even a debdiff: https://bugs.edge.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/transmission/+bug/184238

Unfortunately, it looked like it just slipped past mvo's busy plate :(

Changed in ubuntu-meta:
status: New → Confirmed
E-Jey (erik-kaasschaaf) wrote :

In my opinion this isn't a bug. It's just the result of one (!) usability test. The author of the article: "The main issue with the desktop experience is that the geeky programmers and designers assume too much from the average user." User testing is good but he makes a mistake. He assumes that his girlfriend is representative for every other ubuntu novice/user. Geeky devs make ubuntu user friendly for geeky users, he is making ubuntu user friendly for his girlfriend. The last one is probable better but not perfect. To solve this problem you have to test a case on several users, according to Jacob Nielsen 5 users should be fine: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20000319.html. On the other side it would surprise me if the results of other tests are different, but you have to know for sure.

Chandru (chandru-in) wrote :

This is definitely not a real bug.

The only part which can be considered a possible bug is the naming of Transmission's menu entry. From first comment even that seems to have been fixed.

Ryan Prior (ryanprior) wrote :

I disagree with the last two commenters.

First, though I agree that the article certainly does not represent a scientific usability study, I don't think that fact makes the result useless. The writer learned about some of Ubuntu's weaknesses from his experience with his girlfriend, and we can learn from that without having the same things verified n more times. Most of the ideas discussed aren't highly specific and wouldn't be hugely disruptive to address in some manner - thus, though the testing is not of the highest quality, I think the "bugs" are still valid.

I also disagree that the only fixable bug is the Transmission one. The fact that many Pidgin users won't know what a "screen name" or "local alias" are is very real, for example. I can confirm that bug absolutely, having introduced many friends to Pidgin on Windows. The screen resolution bug is absolutely a fixable problem. In general, I think all of them are fixable with the possible exception of YouTube, but even then I bet there's enough ingenuity in the Ubuntu developer community to find a fix for that.

So, mark this bug invalid if it's truly not useful to the Ubuntu community - but I think it would be a shame to ignore this request for improved usability for whatever lame reasons.

Scott Ritchie (scottritchie) wrote :

This isn't itself a bug, it is rather a metabug listing other issues. Let's file separate bugs for each, and link them here for convenience. It's unfortunate that launchpad doesn't seem to support a "this bug depends on bug x" feature like bugzilla has.

Regarding youtube: probably the easiest fix is to just email Google, or point them to the article.

Changed in ubuntu-meta:
importance: Undecided → Wishlist

I'm confused as to why "Make sure that the screen resolution can be changed even at very low screen resolutions." isn't something that can be considered a bug. Try what he says and tell me how you get back to the main resolution easily:

"Ninth Task: Change screen resolution.

This was easy from the Preferences menu under Screen Resolution, and she changed it to the smallest size available: 720×400. However, she clicked “Keep settings” straight away, and couldn’t work out how to get it back because the screen was too small to display the entire height of the Screen Resolution menu. Eventually I had to do it for her by tabbing through the options.

This is pretty ridiculous – you can’t make it shorter and you can’t move it up past the top of the screen. There’s no way I can see of being able to change the resolution using that menu when you’re on a small resoltion – without tabbing to invisible options that you don’t know are there. Maybe I’m just missing something, I’d be happy to be enlightened."

Manipulation of the graphical/viewing settings from the GUI should not leave a user stranded! This is the holy grail of comfort and confidence in your GUI/OS.

The above issue with the screen resolution dialogue should most definitely be classed as a bug/oversight. I have experienced this issue, both sides of having the [ALT]+mouse knowledge, and it's most annoying even if you know the tricks to get round it.

The elements in the dialogue should be dynamically positioned/scaled with relative locating and scaling (with some limiting or intelligence to avoid silly outcomes). Also; with a little forethought put into the dialogue design (perhaps, designing it to a square/circle-centric ideal, to avoid problems on portrait or other orientated displays?) - with the critical interaction components like "OK" "commit" "test", closer to the centre of the dialogue/s?

Also; I would recommend ghosting the commit/ok button unless there has been a history of successful testing for that adapter/display/orientation/display-subsystem. Following the Linux standards means, the history is just a text file log/config; so it can easily be bypassed by scripting or techies when necessary.

Anyone can make a small mistake. Forcing them to recover the mistake, using only the text console, or special key combos where the whole toolset and experience, is different, is an ill-conceived scenario. Some of the Puppy distros have a good xorg wizard/process, which I feel is a step in the right direction, but I feel Ubuntu/KDE/Gnome can, and should be more polished.

Looking at my recent Mint "KDE Control Centre" is showing that we're getting there with the scaling, and implementing sliders within the dialogue, when the relative positioning is not succeeding.

Bálint Magyar (balintm) on 2010-03-11
affects: ubuntu-meta (Ubuntu) → gnome-user-share (Ubuntu)
affects: gnome-user-share (Ubuntu) → ubuntu-meta (Ubuntu)
kenden (kenden) wrote :

This is not a valid bug, more a list of suggestions.
Please create independent bugs (they might already exist) and blueprints for those issues.
The name of the bug should also be changed, it is sexist.
Marking as invalid.

Changed in ubuntu-meta (Ubuntu):
status: Confirmed → Invalid
status: Invalid → Incomplete
Launchpad Janitor (janitor) wrote :

[Expired for ubuntu-meta (Ubuntu) because there has been no activity for 60 days.]

Changed in ubuntu-meta (Ubuntu):
status: Incomplete → Expired
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