Idea Handling/IdeaTorrent

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IdeaTorrent calls itself an “open innovation software”, which lets people of a community submit their ideas, brainstorm them and vote on them. The most prominent (or at least vivid) example for the use of IdeaTorrent is Ubuntu Brainstorm, a site which is online for several months now and seems to be highly accepted among the Ubuntu Linux Community.

Some time ago, it has been discussed by the UX team whether this software lowers the hurdle for the participation for many of our end-customers. Basically, the most important advantage of using IssueTorrent would be improve the transparency of some decision processes, if all the people involved can make use of IdeaTorrent's capabilities. Thus, a review of the current design of IssueTorrent is highly desired before it gets used by such a large project like

The current task involves the evaluation of potential issues which may have impact on the understandability, usability and usefulness of the tool. Why? Although IdeaTorrent itself is commonly used among several organizations, it still seems to provide room for improvement to let everybody (literally speaking) get have access to highly complex decision processes. Fortunately, the tool is still in development, so that our proposals might have influence on the product.

In the procedure, the potential issues shall be rated according their severity and the influence on the target audience. Due to the great capabilities of IdeaTorrent, this might be an enormous effort, so it is defined to set the focus on those target groups which might benefit most. Those target groups are already represented by the roles used in IdeaTorrent: Simple User, Idea Reviewer, Developer, Moderator and Administrator. It is assumed that the latter ones do work frequently with IdeaTorrent, so they may have a certain knowledge concerning the processes and overcome potential usability issues. That means, that the focus will be set on “simple users” to “developers” – the other groups will most probably benefit automatically. Please note that although people are involved which represent target groups, it is not planned to do real end-customer testing. Instead, the approach of a heuristic expert evaluation will be used which is based on the experience of the UX team.

The goals of this evaluation is the documentation of potential usability flaws, and the development of design proposals to overcome these issues. The results should make it possible to improve the already high-quality software IdeaTorrent and to provide the basis for an excellent idea collection tool for the community.

Different information sources will be used to evaluate the behavior, the different roles and the scalability of IdeaTorrent:

  • IdeaTorrent demo system: The demo system set up by the developer of IdeaTorrent provides insight into the standard theming and behavior of IdeaTorrent.
  • Ubuntu Brainstorm: The official idea collection site gets about 50,000 page visits per day, and contains nearly 15,000 ideas – this might provide insight into scalability issues (with regard to usability).
  • Own IdeaTorrent installation documented here: Personally, I did set up a simple IdeaTorrent system on a virtual machine. This will make it possible to better understand the underlying structure of the system and to look up defaults which might already be altered in the IdeaTorrent demo system above.

More information on potential approaches for the idea handling can be found at Idea Handling. For further questions, please contact the UX team on the mailing list.

Usability Evaluation

more to come soon :-)

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