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Newbie experience with OOO website.
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Bats
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2006 11:08 pm    Post subject: Newbie experience with OOO website. Reply with quote

Hi - I sent this as an email to the webmaster. I thought I would make a thread about it too. My intention is not to blindly criticise, but to try and communicate an experience in the hope that it will lead to a change on the website.

I had my sister on the phone today, trying to walk her through an OOO download. We had no end of trouble.

Her: Windows. Internet Explorer. Versions unknown.
Me: Windows XP Home. Firefox 1.0.7

Problems:
A: Design/Layout/Communication
B: Technical

A - Layout
It's hard to understand the initial openoffice.org home page.

My sister called virtually in tears. She could not comprehend what the site was telling her. She could not see the gigantic green "get open office" button - maybe because it does not look like a button?
You may think it shows a download "arrow" and is obvious, but it really just looks like a background graphic.
When she did find a "download" link (http://download.openoffice.org/index.html), she reached that incomprehensible download page which would slow a pro, let alone a newb.
Just look at it: it has a dollar sign (Last Update $Date - huh??) it has buzzwords like "Snapshots". What's a normal person to make of that?

She was totally stumped. Confused. Bewildered.

If she was not forced to get ooo (I send her only ooo files) then she would turn away and use the default...
(Her husband installed it for her at home, this was a work install.)

When I finally managed to talk her to the right download page - http://download.openoffice.org/2.0.2/index.html - (I was on a laptop, using the phone to guide her), the other problems began:
1.) "Download OpenOffice.org" does not look like a link. It did not occur to her to actually click it.

2.) The dense block of text describing vital information is totally opaque. I can barely get information out of it. My sister did not read it at all.
It needs line-breaks.
It needs bullet points.
It needs formatting and some illustrations.
It needs de-geeking. "Native Language", "Server", "Java". Huh?
Break it down.
Spell it out.

3.) Of special importance is clearly differentiating the "with java" and "without java" options. It's not clear what "with" and "without" mean.
"With java" in the file or "with java" on my machine already? Um?
Remember the text does not read, so it does not get read.

(Perhaps there should be a walk-through to enable people to determine if they have java or not. It's not a natural or easy thing to understand. Coffee jokes and all.)

4.) The choice of O/S in the second pulldown is overwhelming.
My sister had actual panic in her voice.
She uses Windows. She always has. You would think she would know that; even so, she read through every option (slowly, long-distance on the phone) actually asking me if she is using "Solaris" (which is just a sci-fi word to her.)
You need O/S logos.
You need to split the download on O/S from the start. Something like "Windows | Mac | Other" - with logos.
Or try to detect the O/S and divert seamlessly.

5.) Mirrors: I have been to sites that do a good job of pre-selecting my closest mirrors.That list of servers just killed my sister. I could hear her brain turning flip-flops as she looked for a window to jump from!
Really, we are dealing with people who do not know they are using a browser. They do not know what "Operating System" means. They only barely understand "link". There is no earthly way that they will ever understand what a "server" is. The concept of geographical proximity is so very lost on them.
The site should lose it too.

6.) After all that (technical problems aside) one reaches *another* page. Fair enough, you need sponsors, but it's another dense block of text and won't get read. It also slows the pace, keeps people from what they need/want. (Or drives them away)

B - technical
1.) On Firefox 1.0.7 (Windows) and IE (??) the three select boxes behaved mighty strangely.
They only pull-down when the left-mouse button is held down. As soon as you let go, the list closes.

Scrolling it impossible.

On FF the page would leap to the donate/download page as soon as you chose a language - not allowing me to choose O/S or a mirror. I had to use the back button. Luckily the combo-box now had "British English" in it and I could repeat the fiasco for the O/S combo.

You try this on a phone with a technophobe. I had to ask her to hit ctrl-F5 to refresh the IE cache in some cases. She was pressing Ctrl-F-5 and getting the Find dialog! Yeah, that bad.Rolling Eyes

There is a javascript problem there.

2.) When I got past all that with her, we clicked the "Continue to Download" button and (perhaps due to a mirror error) got error messages.
On her side it was an IE "can't find page" kind of error. The OOO site was gone and she was stranded and lost in "white-page with geek writing land".
On my side I got a FF message-box saying something about can't change directory on the FTP server.
I know the error is coming from a foreign server - is there no way to at least mitigate the confusion? A frame. An Iframe? An OOO presence on the screen with help or a back button named "Try another way"
Something.

In the end I had her click the "non-javascript download page" link - which you can imagine is total Geek-Greek to her. She would not voluntarily click on that if serpents were climbing her legs threatening her!

Finally! We got a SaveAs/Open box and I could relax. Okay, besides the hairy stuff of getting her to the desktop and actually clicking "Save".

[On FF 1.5 on Linux (I tested later) the pulldowns operate okay, but they still fwd me to the next page when I have only selected one option (starting from Language). Example: Language -> click -> find -> Click ~~~page loads~~~ suddenly on download page, no option to choose O/S etc. Huh?!?!?]

Summary
Kill the complexity. Really. How many people are you losing to the sheer cliff of your website?
Take a leaf out of Firefox's website - easy is the word.

I hope this helps someone.
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Weatherlawyer
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2006 1:55 am    Post subject: Five Stars Reply with quote

This aught to be a sticky on all the forums here and anywhere else in OOland.

You can take the Linux hacker out of the loop but you can't take the loop out of the Linux hacker. There is a wall of silent witnesses who are saying nothing, in anger at the incomprehensibility of some of the instructions and at all the hackerese on these opensource sites.

What is really needed is a team of trickpsyclists with masters in grammar from a number of different cultures working on the project.

Also, instead of an help site there aught to be subject specific help commands written into the right click button. Perhaps with a title like "Trouble reading Hackerish? >" which opens to an explanation in Lamease.
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Kaaredyret
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2006 2:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

www.openoffice.org is definately a site for geeks; I didnt believe my eyes when they redesigned it.

But it gets even more nasty... if your sister wants to report an error, then he will REALLY suffer with the error reporting system.
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9point9
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2006 3:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think web design is more of an art than a science. There is a lot up layout which is up to opinion and what suits one person really might not suit anyone else. Personally I like the current OOo page but I am used to it so it doesn't really scare me in the way that it might scare most people.

There are far worse techy sites though. Try looking through ATi's site for a driver other than the Windows 2K/XP one. That's horrid.

Mozilla's Firefox site is easy to get a version of Firefox on but not always the right one. I used the en-US build for ages as I simply hadn't found how easy it was to get the en-GB build... that is, when it's available within, say, 3 weeks of a new update.
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Last edited by 9point9 on Wed Mar 15, 2006 6:08 am; edited 1 time in total
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Bats
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2006 4:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Mozilla's Firefox site is easy to get a version of Firefox on but not always the right one.
Shows what I know eh? I never supposed there would be "flavours" of the FF install, besides O/S versions. Ah well.

Even so, if the "easy way" of downloading led to a version for the masses, and you were forced to dig a little deeper to find your particular build, that is in your capacity because you know what you need. That's the distinction I reckon.

I suppose it's easy to crit a website and less so to fix it. I've crafted a few in my time and I always get stunned by the silly stuff that users do. In equally odd measure, the clients usually want to keep piling-on the complicated stuff, as if that will make the site somehow more "worthwhile".

I have found that "simple" is the hardest thing to achieve.

I have used the site to fetch ooo before, no problem. I can also install Linux, compile apps and (if you use hot-pokers creatively) I can write Assembly code. Guess what? The stupid website is a mere sufferance to me, an irksome bothersome clickeroo that must be handled rather than used, but not a fullstop in my day. For people like my little sister, it's the end of the world.

Every newby can find the big 'ol X in the top-right corner of the browser...
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fmiles
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2006 8:36 am    Post subject: Re: Newbie experience with OOO website. Reply with quote

Bats wrote:
I hope this helps someone.

It sure will, if you just address this to the Website team.

I've been away for a while now and created a new forum ID. I was the young designer guy who was responsible for almost all the Quality Assurance work for the new design back in 2004. I joined the OOo website project half-way when I thought the website project was in many ways going to the wrong direction.

Anyway, I guess we did the best we could. I did notice many flaws in the design but those were never worked on. Especially when it's about visual design it's very difficult to explain why certain things should be made otherwise. There were many people working on the design and everyone seemed to have different opinions about where to go next. Then there was this CollabNet software behind the site which seemed to lay many restrictions to our work.

Kaaredyret wrote:
www.openoffice.org is definately a site for geeks; I didnt believe my eyes when they redesigned it.

I don't like it either. The website doesn't work the way it should.

Something went wrong in the process, I just don't know what. The QA didn't work, the design wasn't improving. As we revised, we just seemed to do the same mistakes all over again. I think we—such talented and creative people we were—could've performed a lot better. I'm not pointing fingers or anything and am not blaming any of my co-workers there. But looking back, I'm not at all happy about the design process nor the outcome. I haven't even included the OOo website in my design portfolio since I find it so distant from any of my own work.

I was recently in contact with the project lead Louis Suarez-Potts and—if I got him correct—he gave me a slight hint that there might be a new redesign coming. At least they did revise the Download page just recently so they are working on the website all the time.
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Bats
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2006 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the feedback. I did send the OP as an email to the webmaster too, so I hope it got read at some point. (Never got a reply.)

I hope they can just make things simpler - that's what's needed.

Good luck to the web-dev team, it sounds like a case of too many cooks Wink
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BookLady
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2006 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, it is a lot easier to use than that other office suite's websites.
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Bats
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2006 9:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know if that's a valid criticism. Can you download the entire Office suite from one of those "other" sites?

Come to think of it - can one download OOO from it's own website? Now that is the question!
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9point9
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2006 11:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bats wrote:
Come to think of it - can one download OOO from it's own website? Now that is the question!

Follow the download tab near the top of the homepage?
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Bats
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2006 11:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

9point9 wrote:
Bats wrote:
Come to think of it - can one download OOO from it's own website? Now that is the question!

Follow the download tab near the top of the homepage?


Hey! A brilliant incisive point. Well said.
Obviously, you read the OP and understood the issue at hand...

Rolling Eyes
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9point9
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 12:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do I detect a hint of sarcasm?
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Bats
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 12:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very Happy Just a bit !
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Weatherlawyer
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 4:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks better now or was it my NoScript settings?

File: OOo_2.0.2_Win32Intel_install.exe
File: OOo_2.0.2_Win32Intel_install_wJRE.exe

I take it that the first d/l is without Java?
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9point9
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 7:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Weatherlawyer wrote:
Looks better now or was it my NoScript settings?

You will need Java Script on or the download page will look strange. You could of course use the index-nojs page instead.

Weatherlawyer wrote:
I take it that the first d/l is without Java?

Correct.

Another way to download is to look at a mirror directly. Mirrors have lots of useful software on besides OOo and there will probably be something there to interest you. Many mirrors have Linux distros on them as well.
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