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How Do Open Source Software Contributors Perceive and Address Usability? Valued Factors, Practices, and Challenges

by   Wenting Wang, et al.
Corporation de l'ecole Polytechnique de Montreal
McGill University

Usability is an increasing concern in open source software (OSS). Given the recent changes in the OSS landscape, it is imperative to examine the OSS contributors' current valued factors, practices, and challenges concerning usability. We accumulated this knowledge through a survey with a wide range of contributors to OSS applications. Through analyzing 84 survey responses, we found that many participants recognized the importance of usability. While most relied on issue tracking systems to collect user feedback, a few participants also adopted typical user-centered design methods. However, most participants demonstrated a system-centric rather than a user-centric view. Understanding the diverse needs and consolidating various feedback of end-users posed unique challenges for the OSS contributors when addressing usability in the most recent development context. Our work provided important insights for OSS practitioners and tool designers in exploring ways for promoting a user-centric mindset and improving usability practice in the current OSS communities.


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