Tatica Leandro and Mo Duffy slipped out of the lobby for a few minutes on Saturday night to fill me in on the Design Team hackfest they were planning for Sunday alongside Jef van Schendel and Emily Dirsh.
Design Team! What’s happening?
Mo: Tomorrow we’re doing the design team hackfest – a very tiny one – because we need an Alpha wallpaper for Fedora 15. We have a concept; “Nightingale.” It’s an old story about a king and a mechanical nightingale and a real nightingale, heart and how the natural nightingale saves his life. A technology versus nature theme. What we have to figure out is how to represent that visually. So we’ll be doing a lot of sketches, lots of mockups, lots of drawings.
What can people do to help, especially if they’re not the sort to make sketches and mockups and drawings?
Mo: One thing that’s really helpful with visual art [are comments like] “Ah, that reminds me of this other visual art – take a look at it, maybe it’ll inspire you.”
Tatica: We need people to check it out and tell us [for example]: “okay, this is not so good for my desktop because I cannot see the icons.”
Mo: Right, it’s doing QA for Design. If someone’s colorblind, and we do something with the artwork and they can’t read their icons, that’s a problem.
Tatica: If it’s functional, it needs to be pretty, but if it’s pretty, it needs to be functional.
Mo: Also, other cultures might have meaning behind the visuals we create that we’re not even aware of. In the past we had a visual [design up for review], and someone from Korea said “that’s really offensive, you probably don’t want to do that” – we had no idea, we didn’t know that culture.
Tatica: We are always open to seeing what people can offer.
Mo: You don’t have to be an artist to help, just have a point of view.
So, I’m an engineer… I know how to do a code review, I know how to write a good bug report – but when I’m giving feedback on design stuff, I’m not sure whether my comments are useful or not, because my eyes are so untrained. What sort of things make a piece of feedback helpful for you?
Tatica: Even if people say “no, that’s not working,” that’s constructive, because then we know something’s wrong. What we don’t need is people who criticize the work without help, or without saying “okay, that could be a solution.” If people have a complaint, have a reason to complain – what’s the problem and how to solve it.
Oh, so it really is like writing a good bug report.
Mo: If they say “Oh, I don’t like it!” Well, okay. Why don’t you like it? We can’t fix it if we don’t know.
Where should we give this sort of feedback after FUDCon?
Mo: The design-team mailing list – read it, get a feel for what we’re working on. You can also attend our weekly [IRC] meetings, come lurk and watch us at work and jump in. And we do have a supplementary wallpaper process for Fedora 15, so if you have awesome photos that would make great wallpapers, you should submit them too. The wallpapers are due January 27.