Alyssa Coghlan

Authored Comments

While the Scientific Python stack is certainly one of the language's most notable features today, it's history in web development is at least as long, with the still popular Plone CMS being based on the Zope object publishing system and the schemaless Zope Object Database, both of which were developed in the late 90's, around the same time as the foundations of the modern Scientific Python stack were starting to come together as Numeric and NumArray (prior to their merger into NumPy).

Thanks for this! We definitely need to make open source communities more welcoming to designers of all stripes, and more respectful of their skills.

However, there's one specific point where the phrasing concerns me: "Because many designers harbor the idea that they have to be paid for their work. We must fight against the idea that it's bad to do work for free."

Folks with valuable skills *should* expect to be paid for their work. We may choose to give freely of our skills as a gift, but in those cases, it's because we find the contribution process intrinsically rewarding, such that the personal benefits we get out justify the time we put in.

There are very few open source project environments where I'd be willing to tell a designer that participating openly will see them well rewarded for their efforts - they're far more likely to drown in a sea of nitpicking and attempted design-by-committee.

About the only thing I've seen work well in terms of bringing a design mindset into an environment where designers are not yet respected is for senior developers to step up as advocates for deliberate user experience design, and to actively shield designers from pointless bikeshedding arguments (while still passing along any actually useful feedback), as well as accepting responsibility for any design decisions that turn out not to work as well as hoped.

This ties into the CARE aspect of the article - it isn't designers that are the problem, it's the fact that the way we communicate is far too often actively hostile to good design processes. When we start caring about design, and appreciating it as a skill distinct from development, then we can start to provide environments that designers find as welcoming and intrinsically rewarding as developers do.