Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The usability project has it wrong

The Wikipedia Usability Initiative has posted on its website criteria for WYSWYG and markup editors. I take it that the criteria posted are the alpha version of what the criteria will be because they are fundamentally flawed.

They say "Compatibility with current 1.15alpha is required to pass". I do not understand this. The point of this phase of the project is to evaluate functionality that improved on the usability of MediaWiki. When this usability is better that the one on offer in the 1.15alpha and when testing proves it to be best of breed, this is the functionality that is to pass.

The Stanton project has given a grant of $890.000,-- to bring improved usability to the English Wikipedia. I know that the project team consists of capable people, what I expect them to do is look at the functionality, learn what it is that makes it tick, compare what is on offer and make a best of breed implementation based on what they have learned. They can and should upgrade software to run on 1.15alpha when needed but the real trick is to make it good enough to get Brion's approval.

One other aspect is that these WYSWYG and markup editors are developed by organisations for their own need. When you look at the list, you realise that there are quite a number of them.What I am hoping for is that the WMF will collaborate with these organisations, that they work together so that the new usability will fit them all.

Collaboration will help the $890.000,-- achieve that much more because it is not only this money but also the money spend on usability by these organisations.
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