It is my last week at the Ascend Project, and I am moving hard and fast to finish. I received some conflicting advice on the process of contributing to two open source user experience (UX) projects. For the first project, adding the ability for a developer to respond to a user’s review, I sketched my ideas using basic lines, text, and some color-coding.

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The feedback from my mentor was to brainstorm using scrappy drawings like this instead:

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I resisted the idea because even more than drawing, displaying my handwriting for the world to see causes great fear and trepidation in my heart. Also, I do not have a scanner, and taking pictures would add extra steps. After I mentioned my discomfort with what I called two-dimensional brainstorming, Lukas explained to me that the paper process was a way for people to share ideas without becoming too invested to consider other possibilities. That sounded liberating, and I thought it might also take the pressure off a team that wanted to present options without stratifying collaborators by technical skills or drawing ability. You could literally just throw away your paper sketches.

In the meantime, Jessica recommended this article to me after I was thinking out loud about the open source user experience and the design process within it. The article describes more about prototyping with HTML, which is closer to my personal preference.

So I tried drawing. I found the process frustrating, but I decided to try it again with a “call-to-action” design bug. The response had some good advice, but it also had a new “assigned-to-contributor” tag, which led me to believe I’d lost the bug.

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There is some good news even if I “lost” call-to-action bug. I am still working on the Marketplace project, which is great. The mentor responded to me on Bugzilla and is fine with me using what I call line-and-text sketches. He gave me some really straightforward deliverables as well. I plan to leave out most of the color coding and some of the behavior I initially set out to propose because the colors may have been confusing, and we are in a different point of the UX design process than I initially thought.

I am proud to have begun contributing, and I have started to understand a process of user experience engineering beyond the rapid prototyping and product development I’ve been practicing for a few years contributing at hackathons and learning independently. In my opinion, both of these are being mentored as interaction design bugs to resolve as part of improving the user experience. Since both contribution opportunities will help developers building on the open web, I am happy to work on them as a volunteer on a more extended timeline than I had during Ascend’s full-time open source training program. The experience overall gave me a taste of collaborating around user experience within a large organization just as I had hoped for when I applied to the program.

As for the create-an-app bug, I will have to review the documentation again to confirm since I am happy to work on it some more. Until then,

Dun-dun-dun!

It’s a cliff-hanger, y’all!