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Funded by OCEAN we asked designers to complete weekly diary studies about their contributions to OSS for 10-16 weeks.

This is where the information for setting up diary studies as well as the anonymised weekly diary reports from designers contributing to OSS will be housed.

Read the final findings document

You can read

As a markdown file in this repository here

As a .pdf file hosted in this respoitory here

Cover image for Designers in OSS: Summary of diary studies of designers contributing to OSS illustration of a person with their back to the camera with a laptop and book open in front of them

Background Information

In 2022 we were awarded a grant by Vermont Complex Systems OCEAN award to investigate and give designers (who are currently contributing to OSS) an opportunity to describe their experiences in a safe environment and through anonymous, privacy respecting means. We were able to award designers a stipend to record ‘auto-ethnographic’ information, ‘diary study’ for a sample of designers contributing to OSS.

This short research project aimed to investigate some key questions related to design in OSS and fill some of the larger systemic ‘gaps’ of information from non-code contributors' experiences in OSS. All these questions, due to the limitations of the study, were answered from the designers own perspectives and therefore, have their own personal bias.

- What are the experiences that designers contributing to OSS commonly have?

- What are the conditions that can set designers up for success within OSS projects, specifically regarding ‘contributions of design’?

- What conditions create a sense of inclusion, both at the project and community scales, for designers in OSS?

- What is a design contribution and how is human centered design understood within OSS communities?

- How do designers and OSS project developers/maintainers/communities describe ‘successful’ design contributions?

- How do designers describe a ‘successful’ relationship with OSS project developers/maintainers/communities around their OSS project?

OCEAN’s mission is to ‘study how open source communities come together to solve complex problems’. The nature of human/user centered design is to solve problems using research and design methods that center the variety of users of the tool they seek to solve problems for. But little is known about the origins, reasons and development of how designers contribute to OSS projects.

Outputs from the study


Funded by OCEAN ( we asked designers to complete weekly diary studies about their contributions to OSS for 10 weeks.







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