This blog posting is the second in a series. The full series as it currently stands is:
Surpassing Apple: Step One - Animate Everything
Surpassing Apple: Step Two - Get an Audience
Surpassing Apple: Step Three - Set a Tone
Surpassing Apple: Step Four - Vision and Desirability
Surpassing Apple: Step Five - Think Cinematic
Surpassing Apple: Step Six - Cultivate a Culture
As any regular reader of this blog will have heard at least a hundred times before, the next step for Ubuntu to surpass Apple in the user experience arms race is...
Step Two - Get an Audience
We don't have one. We like to bandy about "Linux for Human Beings" and then throw said human beings under the bus when it comes to design. Ubuntu, and the rest of Free Software as a whole, needs to select an audience. I am not speaking of the typical audience that was the principle composition of the past -- we all know Free Software's roots in the uber-hacker and closet shut-in. I am speaking of the future and the 'audience we want'.
Don't say everyone. It's entirely foolish and foolhardy to suggest for a second that this mythical everyone exists.
Why do we need an audience? Quite simply, choosing an audience defines the perspective. Without an audience commonly spoken words such as 'pretty', 'beautiful', 'usable', 'useful' and other terms simply don't exist.
Once we have an audience, we can apply a connect-the-dots mentality far more swiftly and far more easily. Defining our audience at the very least provides us with the foundation to succeed at this colossal task.
Does our audience's system have sixteen to twenty users on it typically? Does that audience profile require the design of a GDM that supports that scenario or would it be considered secondary to another aesthetic and useful design decisions?
Has our audience long been yearning for a user switching and presence agent? Are they pining for yet another way to manage their online status? Are there perhaps more desirable interface elements for our audience?
What is 'usable' for this audience? Does our audience share the same mindset as the Ubuntu usability steward with regards to instant messaging or do they seek out an entirely different set of criteria? Is the language colloquial or formal and does that work when considered with our audience and goal? Does a network manager need verbose granularity and selection or does our audience just want to connect to the network without deciphering AES, TKIP, WEP, WPA, etc?
Finally, when it comes to the aesthetics and presence, what is a 'best guess' as to what will communicate effectively for this audience? Is it Wal-Mart photography with questionable typesetting? Does cliched stock photography really set a tone that speaks with our audience? Should the choir chant 'just change the default wallpaper' or should the wallpaper be considered the lynch pin of the presentation when our audience has a first point of contact with our system?
Thank you once again for your dedication to reading this blog. I appreciate all of the comments and email.