The Summer 2007 issue of interfaces contains an article on our User Experience Project. If you are not a member of the British HCI group, you can read “User Experience for OpenOffice.org” on my website.
The first rule of open source development is also the reason for an inherent usability problem: "Every good work of software starts by scratching a developer's personal itch."
The result is a self-referential system – developers develop for themselves rather than for the average user or the target audience. Usability engineering is considered as superfluous extra. However, to provide a good user experience, it is the user's itch that needs to be scratched.
This article presents user experience activities in the context of OpenOffice.org. The author – co-lead of the User Experience Project – will discuss the status of building an open source community of usability professionals to improve the usefulness and usability of the application.