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This is the preliminary page for sketching out the user pages requirements. More content soon!

Web site competitive analysis

Any work to improve the OOo site should start with a Competitor Web Site Analysis. However, before doing such an analysis, one shall study methods employed in such an analysis. There are several excellent references on the net:

How to perform the analysis

Proper Research

Proper research involves analysing quantitatively a large amount of users using the web site.

  • large amount: depending on scope might involve thousands of users
  • proper study protocol: clear definitions, clear settings
  • proper outcome variables (e.g. time to find an item/information; number of clicks to come to a page; completing a standardized form after browsing the site ...)

This is indeed difficult to do. Therefore, one is bound to address the problems by indirect research. -- Discoleo 14:28, 19 November 2007 (CET)


Before analyzing which are the best type of (competitive) sites, wouldn't it be worth taking a look at what might be wrong with the existing OOo site?

Competitive sites might be making the same mistakes!

The problem is to detect what is wrong with the current OOo site. If you know that, you can simply correct it. But knowing what is wrong is not trivial. By analysing only this site, one is bound to find only major errors, and often only a tiny part of them.
There are so many excellent sites out there, that I doubt that all will make the same mistakes. IF, by chance, all have made the same mistake, I would bet, we won't easily detect that common mistake. Though the next paragraphs discuss other useful techniques on their own. -- Discoleo 14:07, 19 November 2007 (CET)

Analyze the content of support requests for the last year on the mail list, forum, and irc. Include any other source of questions and queries for support. E.g. google for external sites and blogs to see what kind of advice/support that they feel is necessary to give to OO users.

I would think the mail list, forum and irc analysis would have to be done by someone (moderator, web master etc.) who has access to the backends of these lists.
This is indeed the best method to find relevant questions for the FAQ-list. Some other major misconceptions can be addressed in this way, too. -- Discoleo 14:07, 19 November 2007 (CET)
Yes you are right as far as the FAQ goes. What I was getting at is something else. As I said I have been following the users list for two years. Just by the nature of some questions, follow up answers and re-follow up questions and arguments, problems that people are having with the site rather than the OOo application can become obvious. For example, it wouldn't surprise me to find out that some significant percentage of first time downloaders don't even realize that other people have other operating systems, so they don't understand why or which to choose. That was the point of my Fluster Factor (or stupidity list) given below.--BillCase 06:38, 20 November 2007 (CET)
I would bet that 75% of the questions are largely repetitive and that 50% of all questions could be solved in the initial web site pages.
Fully agree. But only the questions. -- Discoleo 14:07, 19 November 2007 (CET)
Put bluntly, a quick eyeball of the support sites shows:
  • Even after finding the Download page, many users are not sure whether or which download applies to them -- particularly MS users.
  • Microsoft OS users are used to download and install as being one operation. It is not. Downloading in MS involves being asked if you want to install the new program after downloading, but most novice users see it as one operation. So one of the most frequently asked questions is "I have downloaded OOo , why won't it work?"
  • Even after installation some are so used to seeing an icon on their desktop that they don't think to look in their menu in order to start OOo.
  • Mac users have trouble figuring out that although they can see Write on their desktop the first time they use OOo, they need to look in Files =>New to find Impress, Calc etc.
  • There are several questions about using different file formats.
There are several other lesser problems that I don't remember off the top of my head. Some of the above are legitimate concerns based on unique system configuration, but most are cries for reassurance that they are doing the right thing. To me, those are solutions or reassurances that can be proffered at the web site stage or during the download process.BillCase 22:48, 24 November 2007 (CET)
We should have a list of those questions. Having them in histogram form could be useful.

User:Kschenk Maybe even utilizing a simple tool like Google Analytics might help?

Who's the competition?

Murb:This question is answered in a lower section, Examples of websites

What to analyze

Mission Statement

I do not usually believe in mission statements. My experience is that they are usually fluff philosophy, sanitized to meaninglessness by committees and corporate bureaucrats. Having said that perhaps the User Pages Requirements section needs such a statement. For reference I have added some mission statements I have found on the OOo site:

[User FAQ]: "User Support Project addresses the obvious need for a project dedicated to facilitating discussions and capturing the knowledge generated there. For now, the project is just starting but more will be added to this space as we have more people join."

[mission statement] (March 15, 2004): "To create, as a community, the leading international office suite that will run on all major platforms and provide access to all functionality and data through open-component based APIs and an XML-based file format."

[Marketing]: (Last updated 2002 January 04): "The marketing project is dedicated to furthering the growth and use of throughout the world. We believe that provides the best development and support environment and software for businesses and individuals, and our efforts are focused on broadcasting that belief."

I think there should be a quick and easy mission statement specifically for the homepage(s). If anybody is interested I will take a shot at writing one. It wouldn't be anything radical but bounce off the mission statements listed above. I would need a firm understanding or agreement on who are target audience(s) is before attempting to write such a statement.BillCase 22:59, 24 November 2007 (CET)

Design philosophies

Thirsty Horses

Graham Lauder

As the old saying goes "You can take a Horse to water but you can't make him drink"

And therein it seems, lies much of our problem.

There is I believe a confusion of goals at the homepage.

We are getting people to the download page but that is not the end goal. You have to give the horse a reason to drink, Either, make him thirsty, make the water desirable beyond his need for water or wait till he is thirsty before you take hime there.

The three tenets of Marketing

  • Create a need
  • Create a desire
  • Fill a present need

Right now we do none of these well, we simply shove the Horse at the trough, only to make it doubly difficult, we blindfold him, block up his nose and force him to sup it through a straw after he has learned that drinking some types of water.will be bad for him.

People come to a website for two main reasons

  • Curiosity
  • To solve a problem

They will leave for more reasons:

  • Their curiosity has been satisfied and they leave informed
  • They find a solution to their problem
  • They can't satisfy that curiosity within a reasonable time and they leave frustrated
  • They can't find the solution or it is not obvious and they leave frustrated
  • Fear of the unknown

Our problem is right now, and the discussions up to this point are reinforcing this point, we are not asking the User what he wants to do we are telling them what we expect them to do, We inform them but we don't give them information that will make them feel comfortable about hitting the download button, or to stretch our metaphor a bit further, we talk to our horse about the trough but not about how good the water is, while the horse is still worried about drowning..

The Fluster Factor

Bill Case Not only do site/page designers have to deal with the misunderstandings and confusion of normal rational users, they must also overcome the deficiencies of the flustered and the simply stupid. I have made reference to the "Fluster(-ed) Factor" elsewhere. To quote myself:

"Being flustered the first time one downloads, installs or uses a new application and/or operating system is something that can happen to us all -- no matter how intelligent or techno-savvy one is. It is an emotional state brought on by FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt).

Microsoft and others may spread and enhance FUD in order to keep their clients from trying another OS or Office Suite, but they do not create it. It is a normal human emotional reaction to gambling on something that *may* have a steep learning curve; *may* be (to them) completely non-intuitive; *may* cost them all their time and money invested in learning something like Word; *may* have formats not shareable with others; and *may* put years worth of documents and other work at risk. Often there are also time pressures involved."

Webster (1913) defines flustering as follows: "To make hot and rosy, as with drinking; to heat; hence, to throw into agitation and confusion; to confuse; to muddle."

I thought I might make a list of the things I have caught myself doing when I get flustered.

  1. I begin to think of things as being more complex, rather than simpler. I.e. I start using Macco's club rather than Occam's razor, trying to beat a website or application or a shell command into submission.
  2. I begin to double-think plain English instructions. Being a fairly intelligent guy, I have the diabolic ability to take any slightly ambiguous words and cleverly re-interpret them into exactly the opposite meaning from what was originally intended.
  3. I get overly literal. If I am flustered and someone instructs me to click on the Big Green Button and the green rectangle at the top of the page looks like a rectangle and not a button, I don't see it.

Perhaps others can join the confessional. It would act as guidance for page designers, suggesting the normal human stupidities that sites have to watch out for.

Measuring the results

Wish list

If we can agree on a definitive wishlist, we can check proposals against this list of whishes.

In general

  • Simple, uncluttered interface: More visuals, less text at least on the home page.
  • Possibly some interesting dynamic elements, if possible, to handle items like streaming news banner
  • Limited use of color, but colors representing the OOo "identity color" (blue) along with a focus, attention-grabbing color (possibly orange) User:kschenk
  • A primary concern that the user be exposed to and very clear on just what OpenOffice is on the home page. The philosophy being that not providing this information will NOT lead to downloads.
  • All clicks from the main page, at least one level down, should land on a page still friendly to end-users, maintaining the same style etc.
  • User friendly links:; etc. should bring the user where he should get.
  • Localisation should be build in from start
  • Review the information architecture ~"the table of contents of the website"
  • "I would like to propose that the first page is mirroring or echoing the content that is available on the different subproject's websites, putting focus on resources that are often used." - Per Eriksson
  • -> users generally want: [ User:Murb asks: "source?"]
    • download application
    • new: download extension
    • help/support/community (only partially implemented)
    • report bug
      • User:Murb: not sure whether it should be on the main page per se, could be under contribute directly (not via a QA link...)
    • Important items should be available from the main menu tabs (was: the last 3 (extensions,support,bugs [ed.]) are pretty absent from the main Menu-tab) [edited by User:Murb, see e.g. Winamp's website -- Discoleo 20:42, 27 October 2007 (CEST)
  • Murb: search and login at same position, but changing on different pages is confusing, maybe try to keep it at the same location
  • Murb: technology wise, we should adhere to standards, not important for normal users, but important to tech users. We are also the supporter of the OD-Fromat, so we should adhere to other's standards as well.

Getting OOo

  • Auto detection / auto selection of language & os
    • Requires server side scripting
  • Offer CD's
    • Anecdote: One of the complaints was initially with a one click download that CD offerings are neglected. Which introduced at least one extra click in order to relieve the crowdedness on the main page. P2P is also given as an alternative way to get OOo, but I would consider that still as user unfriendly.
  • Only offer bittorent and alike when it can be integrated smoothly


  • Good explanation in as few lines/pages as possible why people should get OOo
  • Comparison with other office suites
  • Product tour?

Also Alexandro on the issue (posted by murb)

  • How can OOo improve their lives?
  • Why would they want OOo better than the 'competition'.
  • How to get to use it now.
    • Tell me how can I balance my checkbook for free.
    • Tell me about the new charting module in OOo 2.3

Get more out of OOo

  • Downloads to cliparts, good tutorials, templates, etc.
  • Extensions
    • User:Murb: "I believe this should be either a centralized effort or an effort involving some kind of voting mechanism... there is a lot of material that looks unprofessional and makes working with less fun."
  • Create a package with good looking cliparts


  • Short, and optimized for e.g. journalists who want to get background info
  • FAQ; discuss the about issues in the FAQ-section (suggested by Discoleo)
-- 21:06, 27 October 2007 (CEST)

Get people to contribute

  • Smart placement of links; e.g. when describing the draw component, create a link to de development pages of this component.
    • Requires cooperation with the component managers to create reasonable landing pages (provide them with a template?)
  • Idea once proposed at website-dev: " community"; brand all community efforts "part of the community".
  • Quick way to enter bugs for experienced user (suggested by Kay Koll)
    • Murb: No need for having this on the main page, but quick access would be nice, maybe having a subdomain would also help...
  • Donation more prominent (suggested by Kay Koll)
    • Murb: (I copied this suggestion from the november,22 mail) I am not sure whether donations should be more prominent than e.g. source contributions...


  • Good overview of excellent help sources, do not list dated material anymore... (maybe create an separate archive)


Persona's help to get an idea of what type of user we are focussing on. You can 'test' design proposals using the persona's, by simply trying to think how this person would solve the problem he or she is faced with. If you think a typical user is not yet mentioned in this list add 'm. If you think a persona is within the scope of the end user focus plan, please add your opinion.


May have advanced experience with Office programs, but no idea how to download (and install) programs.

From a discussion with Graham on the website dev:

I asked a group of my students once. "What is a Web Browser." No answer until one lady put up a hand and said: "A blue 'e' ?".

The lesson I was doing was about how to upgrade to the latest (Note: Lady was an accountant and was doing things in OOoBase that just went way over my head.)


Explorers to me are people who are having a look at OOo for the first time. I think of them as Explorers because they have come to the Home Page on a recommendation from a text, another site, from a friend or as the result of a google (or other search engine) based on a key word like "Office Suites". Therefore, setting up wide ranging (but common sense) keys is essential to getting a viewing from Explorers.

By the way, a google for "Office Suites" currently puts Open Office at the top of the found list.

Explorers expect to be at the Home Page. I, therefore, expect the Home Page to be a Sales Page. A sales page does not have to be crude commercialism, but it should elicit excitment, a feeling that a nugget of gold has been found, and create a desire to look and read further. It should begin the removal of any outstanding fear, uncertainty and doubt. The page should be simple, with only one or two clear messages and lead directly to the next step (link).

Can language be detected? If so, do the page in the native language with a language choice option.

Typical cases:

  • 46 year old father with two kids wants to download OOo by himself. His native language is Dutch (nl).
  • A user behind a slow connections wants to know where to buy a CD with OOo
  • Journalist from a local newspaper wants to compare OOo to other competing office suites

First Time Downloaders

Although we might use the title "Download" on tabs and buttons, I qualified downloaders with "First Time" in order to emphasize the importance of keeping the download page simple for the second category of visitors to the OOo site.

I expect that downloading is the next logical progression. I am not excluding info pages that Explorers might want to go to first, but I am attempting to take a first swipe at defining potential users. In this case, "First Time Downloaders" are intimately connected to Explorers.

If the "sale" is made to an Explorer, we want to make it as easy as possible for that Explorer to get an usable copy of OO. More advanced users will be dealt with under the title of "Upgraders".

The First Time Downloaders page should contain (restricted to the minimum) choices. It should use lots of reassurances about the process of downloading and installing. It should convince the First Time Downloader that NONE of his present applications or existing work are at risk. It should use lots of positive marketing words. It can have a link (Advanced Downloads) to the Upgraders Page.

Can the Downloader's operating system be detected? If so, offer that Os download as first choice.


I know OOo doesn't upgrade -- it downloads and replaces. From a user perspective, this is not an important fact. Upgraders can be thought of as advanced downloaders from our perspective, but are best defined as Upgraders because that is their objective and it separates naming, with no confusion with the First Time Downloaders.

If I had my way, this is where I would like the web pages to diverge. Though this page would be accessible from the home page and downloaders page, it really should have a simple URL of its own, so that more advanced users can access it directly from their browser bookmarks or favourite's file. It should not show up on a google found list after a simple search.

This page can include all the download variables; extensions, newest, CSV, unstable, stable and old.

It should have a look and feel of well organized clarity and stability and be devoted just to upgrading OO.

Murb: I think this hardly a well defined group yet... could you be more specific by trying to give more detailed 'personas'?

Users of OOo

Users are people who have already OOo running, or know about it, but want

Typical cases:

  • 15 year old girl is making an assignment for one of her courses. She is looking for nice clip art to use in OOo
  • 25 year old male student is looking how to create well structured documents, in order to make his thesis writing process efficient
  • 33 year old has switched to the Mac platform and wants to get OOo running as well...


The Participants page should link to all the previous pages. But it needs to be clear. No one wants to volunteer to help an organization that hasn't thought out its objectives and where it needs help the most.

In my view it should be hierarchical. With the most general tasks first. Perhaps starting with the discussion list, in my lexicon, "the policy committee". For people volunteering, each task should be described in detail, and linked to real but varied tasks on the Developers pages and Wikis.

There are many 'key' words and factors that get people to join volunteer organizations. I see many of those 'keys' missing on the participation pages. Research should be done and a list of 'keys' should be provided to the page designers.

Typical cases:

  • Fanatic user wants to find out more about the community. He would like to contribute to the new chart component.
    • Murb I believe we can learn from this one that we need bridges to the developer pages, users start of as an end-user, but some want to get involved. Offering bridging links would help.
  • A 'geek' is waiting for the inclusion of the lightning project with OOo, where to find more information?
    • Murb We should think about how deep we should go in providing information on these pages... [not sure whether this persona is applicable]


I confess, I haven't thought out yet how these last two categories (Participants and Developers) can best be serviced by the web site. It seems to me that although in the end they may be (probably will be) the same individuals, the two roles are distinct roles that should be handled distinctly.

A revue of the skills, tools, collaborative sites, objectives, time lines, etc. should be undertaken. Developer's pages have to be "meat and potatoes" pages.


If readers initially agree with the basic analysis above, then add extra categories that seem appropriate.

None of the above should be written in stone. Whatever one suggests as a way to categorize visitors to the OOo site should be subject to discussion and research.

Regards Bill Case

Examples of websites

OpenSource Software


KDE Office
Murb More identity than OOo, but loads of text links in the side bar... not good use of space, and how to download it?
GNome Office
Murb Kind of how OOo used to look like before the previous design, much text only, little identity. (proposed by the Marketing Project, March 2007)
BillCase Love the copy. I think it is exactly the type of introductory wording we need.
Murb I like it as well, but it is too much focus on explaining why (it is not a homepage replacement

Other software

Other opensource projects face the same problems, what is important, there are a lot of different users of the website. Pay specially attention to community aspects here...

more technical; interesting read: Deconstructing the Redesign
User:Cj: "clear separation between user and development, easy download, easy access to additional information"
User:Murb: "Typical example of a big opensource project with a easy download (most users just have to click download; language & os is all preselected, very much end user focussed. Developper's site is on another domain. Focus only on download however doesn't work for OOo, since OOo is a much heavier download..."
User:LouisSuarez: "I am not sure I agree. Let's see if we can focus for now on making the download process easier. We can have also ancillary information relating to other enduser sites and items, accessed via tabs."
Discoleo documentation, FAQ, getting-help and reporting bugs (though I do not like the small font-size, but probably this is due to the long text)
anonymous: very developer-centric
Murb: The community website of the Mozilla project. Having a clear distinction between dev and non-dev has many advantages.
-no comments yet-
GNOME (has usability through cleanness first)
-no comments yet-
BillCase?: highly centered on businesses/commercially

Closed Source Software


MS Office
User:Murb: "I want cool cliparts / templates etc... it is just a few clicks away, and looking more attractive. Much to improve also on this site, but I like the focus not only on the potential user just about to get it, but also on the user experience of users who are actually trying to use it for their projects"
Apple iWorks
User:Murb: "Looking at it I would say, DA!, DA!, DA!... Pages, Keynote, Numbers. Very attractive screenshots right in your face. It sells itself...; on the other hand it kind of gives a feel of, is it only about being beautiful? Would it work for my 100+ page Thesis? (and of course it is Mac only ;) )"
BillCase 19:24, 15 November 2007 (CET): Just went to Apple iWorks site. It is stunning. Better than Symphony or Microsoft.
Lotus Symphony
User:Kschenk: MS's site seems well much too much in my opinion, while the Symphony site could be TOO tamed for the average audience...but I liked it! Maybe what we need to get a better handle on is what exactly IS our user base. Are they visiting us for fun or business? Are they developers or folks wanting upgrades? Or they casual, and, and how casual folks who have heard about OO.o, and just want to download it and try it? I would think, in ANY of these cases, the less nonsense the home page displays, the better. This does NOT mean it can't be friendly, just lacking silliness.
Star Office
Murb: Not really a website for the product, but just a 'needed' page at the Sun website imho... many links lead also to generic Sun pages...
Google Docs (tour)
  • Googles site is too simple in my view, although they have the advantage of letting the user immediately start creating a document. BillCase

Other software

Closed source, but still interesting for OOo...

  • it allows one to download fast the application
  • further: direct access to skins/plugins aka extensions
  • and both to the community and the help pages and development pages
-- Discoleo 12:52, 25 November 2007 (CET)
BillCase: Great extensions/plugins repository?
Winamp has:
  • separate Top-Level Menu-Entries for 'Skins' and 'Plugins'
    • a submenu explains what actually 'Skins' and 'Plugins' are
  • 2 examples of skins/plugins on the main site (changes periodically)
    • users already get a feeling how they can expand the product
--Discoleo 12:52, 25 November 2007 (CET)
The notable thing about Real's site is the staged loading. Probably more noticeable on Dialup, but the effect is good nonetheless.
Launch of the page.This, even on Dialup, was almost instant
Page fully loaded
This speaks to the priorities that Louis was talking about. Present the User with the options sequentially
  • First: "Download Now" or "Download the latest OpenOffice now"
  • Second: User Info
  • Third: News
  • Fourth: Marketing Spiel
or any sequence of the above, but "Download Now" definitely being first, sitting out front for a period, 10 to 15 secs perhaps, time for a person to make a decision. A time limited cookie generated by the download page could make the Browser skip the pause unless a new version of OOo has been made available since the cookie was set.
-- Yorick 00:22, 25 November 2007 (CET)

Other inspiration

Websites offering inspiration

User:Kschenk: Frankly, I think does and admirable job of what I'm talking about.
BillCase: I would like to point out that won the webby for best community site. I would like to point out also that there is a difference between copying a site and looking at it for ideas, target audiences, purposes and/or moods.

Other websites liked

CSS Beauty
BillCase sample sites with comments (css based web sites)
Style Gala
BillCase Sample sites with comments and ratings
Best Web Gallery
BillCase Lots of good samples, but no comment or rating, 540 designs listed
BillCase More good samples, 203 designs listed
Webby awards
BillCase Irony -- Great sample/winning sites, well worth looking at -- but the webby site itself is confusing. Scroll down for categories. Check out:
* Best Home/Welcome Page
* Best Navigation/Structure
* Best Copy/Writing
* Best Practices
* Charitable Organizations Nonprofit
Some of these sites may be too resource intensive (flash, sound etc) but they contain great ideas that my be incorporated at a simpler level. Of them all, I personally liked the 2007 IKEA BEST NAVIGATION/STRUCTURE: IKEA Dream Kitchen
User:Kschenk uummmm...well IMHO...I thought most of the webby award sites would make me run out of the room screaming if these kinds of techniques were somehow transposed to a site like Addendum: I have read criticism of the Webby Awards. Some people would have chosen different winners or claim not all the best were nominated. Be that as it may, for our, OOo, purposes there isn't a better place to start reviewing what can be done.
BillCase I agree we have to determine who our user base IS. But we also have to get a handle on who we would like to ADD to our user base.

BillCase What seems to work the best, particularly on a home page, seems to be "smiling people". No surprise there.

Design proposals

See Website Design Proposals. and Website page with more Design Proposals

(Murb : removed 'Reviewed some site. See what you think, by Bill Case, since there was already a websites section. I have tried to capture and integrate what was said here. History will reveal what was said here originally)

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