[scribus-dev] Thank you Scribus developers!

Ian Elwood ianelwood at riseup.net
Wed Jan 12 06:50:26 CET 2011

Hello developers of the wonderful and amazing open source software (Free 
Software if RMS is listening), Scribus!

I joined this list in hopes that I could share two stories with the 
developers of Scribus, if this is the wrong venue please issue me a 
swift rebuke or a gentle nudge, depending on your mood ;)  Here goes:

Success!  Making Scribus Work in the Workplace

I am the "web guy" at a bay area nonprofit, and an open source 
cheerleader.  My boss supports me and likes open source too.  I 
routinely send emails to our internal list, suggesting helpful free and 
open source tools that our campaigners can use in their work.  We have 
moved everyone to Thunderbird and Firefox.  Recently one of my coworkers 
came in and said something to the effect of, "Hi, I just wanted to come 
in and say thanks.  You recommended Scribus to me and I found it really 
easy to use.  Look, I made these postcards!"  He held up a really crisp, 
clean looking postcard that he had made in-house and sent to our 
printer.  We saved the cost of our (over priced) designer that we 
usually contract, so everyone was really happy.  Success!

Fail!  Making Scribus Work in the Home

My partner (just now) was sitting across the room from me, and asked if 
there was, "Anything like InDesign, but Open Source."  She is not an 
Open Source nut, but listens to my evangelism every now and then.  The 
next 60 seconds of her interaction with Open Source software are 
telling, and the crux of my story.  I told her that I recommended 
Scribus to coworkers, and they really liked it.  I spelled the name for 
her after repeating it a couple times (What?!  Scribe-is?  Scrib Use?  
Scribbus?) and she found the website with no problem, once she had the 
spelling.  She got to the homepage, clicked Download on the navigation 
and was redirected to Sourceforge.  For non-developers who don't know 
what Sourceforge is, this is disorienting and raises the "am I 
donwloading a virus?" alarm.  She had heard of Sourceforge, so continued 
on to find the list of folders.  She was slightly confused, but figured 
out that the one "Scribus" without the "svn" was the right one. She 
doesn't know what SVN is, but figured this out (she is studying for a 
PhD in something unrelated to computers, so is smart and very tech-savvy 
but not programmer-level-savvy). Then after clicking on that folder she 
became very confused.

At this point (60 seconds later) she almost gave up, but narrowed down 
the options and chose one, feeling unsure that it was right.  Then there 
was ANOTHER LIST of (to her) seemingly random options to choose from on 
a list.  She used process of elimination and half guessed again, finding 
the list item with the EXE file extension.  She found it very counter 
intuitive that the correct option was at the bottom of the list -- but 
this is kinda besides the point, given that you don't control 
Sourceforge's UI.

The expected behavior that (just one user, but hopefully it helps) she 
was looking for was to click on a large icon that says "Download" in 
large font, perhaps to have an EXE automatically download.  Also 
acceptable would be to click on a download icon and be directed to one 
to three options on a subpage, that ask for your operating system.

I think making a best guess at what the user will want when visiting the 
webpage to download is worth it, to increase adoption of the software.  
If people are being driven off by usability before they download the 
software, you are surely missing more valuable user feedback that could 
be given by someone who has the software installed already.

I hope you take this as constructive criticism, as I said before I love 
Scribus and recommend it regularly to coworkers, so I want to make sure 
they have a clear path to getting it up and running on their computers.  
Let me know if you have any questions.

The above mainly applies to Windows and Mac users, since folks (like me) 
on Linux will use Synaptic, apt-get or other repository-like ways of 
installing the software.

Hope this helps!

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