Research planning

Suzanne Hillman
Oct 11, 2016 · 5 min read

The next step in our process is to talk to our users. In this case, I will be doing contextual interviews with 7 people.

The major goal of these interviews is to identify the tools that Fedora folk are currently using to handle event planning for Fedora events. I hope to identify both existing pain points and aspects of the current tools that work well.

Who should we interview?

Lots of discussion with Mo turned up a few different axes on which we need to spread out our users.

This project is meant to aid Fedora members in doing things with people near them. First, to find other Fedora community members to interact and potentially meet up with. Second, to coordinate events to introduce the general public to Fedora. Therefore, the most important aspects of our users is location.

Coordination of public events is most likely to be done by Fedora Ambassadors. Other Fedora members will also need to create and organize public events. As such, we need to include both Ambassadors and non-ambassadors.

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The Fedora Community has four major locales: North America, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East, and Australia and the Pacific Islands. In addition to these four locations, we also have people who are specific to college campuses. As a result, we decided that we needed to be sure to have people from each of the locales, as well as people who were from college campuses.

Ambassadors are the public face of Fedora, and therefore the people who are most likely to be organizing events for the public. The main goal of Fedora Regional Hubs is to make it easier to organize events, both within the Fedora Community and including the general public. Given that Ambassadors will definitely need to create public events, we need to include them in our user set. However, Ambassadors are not the only people potentially creating Fedora events for the general public, and so we need to make sure that Ambassador were not the only types of users we included.

Age: It is possible that this will affect the types of tools currently being used, as well as the assumptions that users will make. When Mo suggested who to talk to, she expected that various ages will naturally fall out of the list she offered.

Presence of frustration with current methods: As I am new to this project, and do not have much experience with how people are currently handling event planning, I wanted to be sure that we would include people who are known to be struggling. Discussion with Mo suggests that anyone we talk to will have at least some level of frustration to tap into.

Gender: This was less strongly emphasized in our recruiting goals, although we do have 2 women of the 7 total users. I would have been concerned if we had had none. However, given the topic, I expect we would have struggled to find approximately equal numbers who were also appropriately spread out for location and ambassador status. Those two were more immediately important for the purposes of determining what people are currently using.


Our list of potentially relevant aspects of our potential users included a number of additional axes of variation. These were not expressly included in our decision on who to include, but will be included on the demographics survey that participants will fill out ahead of time.

Experience with Linux/Fedora: What experience do people have, how long have they been using it, how do they use it.

Learning new things to do one’s job: Given that we would be developing a new tool to hopefully help people do the things they want to do, it seemed important to get people who were enthusiastic about learning new tools, fine with doing so, and actively dislike doing so. This will become relevant when it comes time to test prototypes.

How active are Fedora groups you are already in? This is to get a general sense of the spread of the activity the people we interview are accustomed to.

We ended up selecting 3 ambassadors from three different locations, 2 non-ambassadors with one location overlap (Australia and Pacific Islands), and 2 campus people one of which was an ambassador and one not (both in North America).

Mo will both be one of the non-ambassadors and the pilot user for the interview process. I expect that the pilot will bring to light many things that I flat out forgot to include or which needed to be more clearly stated. As a result, I expect that the interview and the survey will need adjustment before continuing.


Coming up with relevant questions for the interviews was difficult. I originally started out trying to use the same categories that I used in my competitive analysis, but Mo correctly pointed out that those were too specific for this purpose. She gave an example of what she might do instead, and it became clear to me that I needed to do a high-level brainstorm of the kinds of tasks people might use regional hubs for.

I expect people will want to:

  1. Find people who are local to them and interested in Fedora.
  2. Set up events (public ones) or meetings (within group).
  3. Discuss things about Fedora.
  4. Find people to attend the public events (advertisement).
  5. Find events to attend/support

I suspect that #1 will not be relevant to our contextual interview due to being something someone new to a site might want to do. I also suspect that #4 may fall under #2. I’m currently waiting on feedback from Mo on the tasks and questions that I came up with.

I will use some combination of Steve Krug’s Usability script from Rocket Surgery Made Easy and “Interviewing Users and Others” in User and Task Analysis for Interface Design by Hackos and Redish to come up with the final interview script. Of course, Mo may have a better suggestion, but that’s what I’m planning at the moment.

Next post should include discussion of the pilot test. Stay tuned!

Previous, competitive analysis summary.

Next, accepted into Outreachy.

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