Andy Brice

Design in Open Source Software

I was interested to read this article by Mark Boulton about being a designer working in an open source project.

Recently, the question of the practice of good design has once again arisen in the open source community…I’ve only recently been involved in open source through the Drupal project although I’ve been a member of many communities online…For a long, long time now, there has been friction between designers and developers…Is it possible to overcome this less-than-symbiotic relationship?

I believe any project combining design and engineering will be most successful as a collaboration between designers who understand engineering and engineers who understand design.

Venn diagram describing people who have the skills of both engineers and designers as 'People you really want on your team'.

In my experience, good user experience design is the thing most noticeably missing from open source software. This is a great shame, because the underlying engineering is often of high quality, but accessible only to a niche market.

There is a lot that designers could contribute in this respect, design patterns can also play an important role. Either way though, design should guide the development process. Engineering first then applying a thin façade of apparent design will only result in an underwhelming user experience.

For a project to run as smoothly as possible, all disciplines need to make the effort to understand one another, and to not lose sight of what they're ultimately working towards.

Posted by on .