As the design of PatternFly becomes more modular, a project has been kicked off within the community to update the website’s information architecture (IA) to better align with the new framework architecture to better meet user needs. To guide the decision making process for the re-design we’ve decided to employ the Open Decision Framework (ODF), a tool developed within Red Hat for making project decisions based around open source principles.
Open Decision Framework
According to the ODF, “open decision making is transparent, inclusive, and customer-centric. It involves clearly sharing problems, requirements, and constraints with affected parties; collaborating purposefully with multiple stakeholders to secure diverse opinions and comprehensive feedback; and managing relationships and expectations across competing needs and priorities.”  The four main phases of the ODF process include:
- Planning and research
- Design, development, and testing
How We’re Using the Open Decision Framework
Our plan is to use ODF principles to guide the design decisions made in re-architecting the PatternFly website. We will:
- Create and maintain a common fact base where important facts and information about the project will be shared with all PatternFly stakeholders.
- Engage the PatternFly community to participate in the UX research activities that will feed the design process.
- Publish a project plan with roles, dates, constraints and proposed activities in the common fact base.
- Provide regular updates through the PatternFly blog and @patternfly_des on Twitter.
- Publish and solicit feedback from the community on all research findings.
- Communicate the decision factors and provide opportunity for community feedback when key design decisions are made.
- Evaluate, acknowledge, and incorporate the feedback and highlight any design changes made in response to that feedback.
What’s Been Done So Far
Over the past several months, some background UX research has been completed in preparation for the project. In March 2016, a baseline usability test of the PatternFly website was completed to identify issues with the existing website information architecture and design. As a result of this test, minor updates were made to the website’s Home, Patterns and Blog pages. In January 2017, interviews were conducted with 10 experienced PatternFly users (both designers and developers) to identify concerns with the current PatternFly website IA and determine requirements for a new IA. A summary of results from that activity is available here.
In the coming weeks and months, we will conduct additional research to guide the design of the new PatternFly website. Two activities are currently being planned.
- A tree-testing exercise to test the usability of a newly proposed taxonomy for PatternFly website that would reflect Modular Design principles. Participants will be given a series of tasks in which they will need to navigate the PatternFly site-map to find specific pieces of information. The time taken and number of steps to complete each task will be recorded.
- An online card sorting activity to help understand users mental models of the new taxonomy and how different content should be organized.
We plan on leveraging the PatternFly mailing list and social media to solicit volunteers to participate in and possibly help facilitate these activities. We look forward to leveraging the PatternFly community and ODF to help improve the user experience of the PatternFly website.