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Name: Aakanksha Gaur

E-mail address:

Primary email:

Secondary email:

IRC Nick: wowsig

Web Page / Blog / Microblog:

Personal Blog:

Opensource blog:

Twitter: sia_steel

Location: India

Education completed or in progress (i.e., university, major/concentration, degree level, and graduation year):

M.Des 2013: Masters in Design, major in Information and Interface Design, at the National Institute of Design, R&D Campus, Bengaluru, India.

B.Tech. 2009: Computer Science and Engineering, Maharshi Dayanand University

How did you hear about this program?

I heard about it on the IRC channel of Gnome Women.

Experience with the organization's product as a user and as a contributor

As a user, I have had the opportunity to use Gnome at two levels, one when I was a developer with Cadence Design Systems, and then as an information design student. At both the levels, I was particularly amazed at the suite of interesting software utilities that came bundled with Gnome. While developing on linux, I was happy using gnome for development and discovering cool utilities in my free time. That was my introduction to gnome.

As a design contributor, it was a smooth sail as far as the inputs from the mentors and other designers was concerned. I was able to figure out the required reading and the human interface guidelines from the wiki which was very well documented. After going through the some of the design blogs of gnome designers, I decided to contribute to the design of an app.

Character Map

I started with researching the other Character Map applications and doing an analysis of what were the major tasks they were attempting and how were they faring on the tasks.

I did another round of research reading up the literature available on the character map to figure out the goals that were to be resolved. This was the most important part for me in starting up with the redesign, since the intention of the application was extremely critical to make out.

These are my blog posts about the learnings and my journey during the process. 1. Thoughts on starting up:

  1. Defined the goals for character map here:

  2. Researched more to find out refined goals by defining use-cases:

  3. Conducted a usability test on the current application:

  4. Added the information on wiki and after discussions with the mentor (Allan Day), finally defined the goals:

I am currently working on further inputs from the community.

Please describe your experience with any other FOSS projects as a user and as a contributor:

Please describe any relevant projects that you have worked on previously and what knowledge you gained from working on them:

What project(s) are you interested in (these can be in the same or different organizations)?

I am interested in usability analysis and user experience of Gnome and its core applications.

Please describe the details and the timeline of the work you plan to accomplish on the project you are most interested in

Since I have decided to work with Gnome for my full-time 8-month thesis, which is a requirement of my masters programme. I plan to work in usability accessment and information visualization of some core apps in Gnome.

Here is my tentative timeline which includes a detailed plan of four months from December to March.

  • Goal 1: Conduct usability test of Gnome 3.
  • Goal 2: Contribute to the design of core applications like Documents.

Tasks to be taken up for usability testing following a user centered design policy:

Week 1-2: 1st-15th December:

Understanding the Gnome 3 experience in terms of the metaphors that it is adhering to.

Goal: Understand the people who make Gnome.

Plan: Conducting high level interviews of developers, designers, documentation and the art team about their motivations, thoughts, and their idea of the Gnome and problems they face while using Gnome. This interview series will focus only on the contributors and will be conducted on IRC. The interviews will be loosely based on a questionnaire that will make sure only the relevant questions are put up.

Deliverable: An analysis document citing the analysis of the interviews conducted.

Week 3-4: 15-30 December

Goal: Understand the critics and the reviewers Plan: Reading up and analyzing online blog reviews on Gnome 3. This would be required to know the seemingly obvious pain points that the bloggers have noticed in the experience of gnome 3. The analysis would be based on a similar exercise I attempted here:

Deliverable: An infographic containing the analysis of the exercise done above. My main goal for three months from January-April would be to undertake a traditional approach to test the usability of Gnome 3 and the core applications. This would involve testing methods like task-based testing, card-sorting, conducting long interviews and heuristic analysis. To achieve this, I have divided the three available months for deciding the important tasks and then conducting testing with the user types that emerge out of the exercises conducted above.

Week 5-6: January 1-15

Goal: Creating user profiles and defining specific usability goals for Gnome3.

Plan: To have a clear understanding of the Gnome users and deciding on the tasks that will be conducted by them for the analysis. The idea is also to break the types of users into small user groups which share a strong characteristic within the group. The task list will also emerge out of the exercise taken before of interviewing the contributors and the reviewers. Defining the specific usability goals for Gnome3 will eventually define what to test for. This would involve breaking the Gnome3 experience into doable tasks for which usability testing will be conducted.

Week 7-8: January 15-30


Goal: Task based testing for one user group.

Plan: Funneling down the most important user group to be tested (based on the maximum number of users being in the group, the group having the most usability issues) and conducting a remote task based testing.

Deliverables: Usability Report for the test conducted.

Week 9-10: February 1-15

Continuation of the usability testing for other user groups.

Week 11-12: February 15-28

Continuation of the usability testing for other user groups.

Week 13-14: March 1-15

Continuation of the usability testing for other user groups.

Week 15-16: March 16-30

Data analysis of the usability testing.

Week 17-18: April 1-15

Wind up this phase of usability testing start with heuristic analysis of the core applications of Gnome.

Will you have any other time commitments, such as school work, another job, planned vacation, etc., between January 2 and April 2?

None. I am available full time for the period starting from Decemeber, 2012 to July, 2013.

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