Finding Out What Might Cause Poor Usability in Open Source Software Products

Finding Out What Might Cause Poor Usability in Open Source Software Products, by more Finns: Matias Ylipelto, Henna Nissinen & Eero Parviainen

Raza and Capretz (2012) have conducted a study about how the developers collect users’ feedback and how they meet the expectations of the end-users. They surveyed the developers of different sized open source projects. According to their results, only 30% of the developers consider usability as the most important quality attribute in their projects and only 42% collected some form of user feedback for their projects. In addition, 77% of the respondents did not consult usability experts for their projects and only one ­third of the respondents who consulted an expert actually followed the advice given and modified their project. (Raza & Capretz, 2012.)

Even though their sample size was quite small (72 respondents), their results indicate that the developers do not seem to perceive the importance of usability and methods to improve the usability, such as collecting users’ feedback and consulting usability professionals,  are not utilized in most OSS projects. Andreasen et al. (2006) also found out that usability evaluation is not considered as a priority in many OSS projects. Their study indicates that OSS developers are actually interested in usability, but in general, they do not have professional usability practices. Usability experts’ evaluations are appreciated as long as they do not interfere the decision­making about changes and priorities. One reason for OSS developers not being interested in focusing usability issues is that in general, they are seeking for challenges. They want to improve their skills and want to be intellectually stimulated. (Andreasen et al., 2006.)