Usability in open source software development: opinions and practice

M. S. Andreasen, H. V. Nielsen, S. O. Schrøder, Jan Stage

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Open Source Software (OSS) development has gained significant importance in the production of soft-ware products. Open Source Software developers have produced systems with a functionality that is competitive with similar proprietary software developed by commercial software organizations. Yet OSS is usually designed for and by power-users, and OSS products have been criticized for having little or no emphasis on usability. We have conducted an empirical study of the developers’ opinions about usability and the way usability engineering is practiced in a variety of OSS projects. The study included a questionnaire survey and a series of interviews, where we interviewed OSS contributors with both technical and usability backgrounds. Overall we found that OSS developers are interested in usability, but in practice it is not top priority, and OSS projects rarely employs systematic usability evaluation. Most of the efforts are based on common sense. Most developers have a very limited understanding of usability, and there is a lack of resources and evaluation methods fitting into the OSS paradigm.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInformation Technology and Control
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)303-312
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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    Andreasen, M. S., Nielsen, H. V., Schrøder, S. O., & Stage, J. (2006). Usability in open source software development: opinions and practice. Information Technology and Control, 35A(3), 303-312.