Design: Views, Reports, Themes and a Pony

Design Jam (Nairobi)
(Nairobi photo by Jepchumba Thomas)
Flush from the Design Jams in Nairobi and Seattle, we continue to build our plans for the next phases of Ushahidi. The Jams allowed us to test out some new ideas and be infused with some deployer wisdom while brainstorming with two communities: one in Seattle and the other in our homebase, Nairobi. Thanks to all the participants as well as our hosts: ihub (Nairobi) and Jigsaw Renaissance (Seattle)!
Brandon and Jepchumba, our two in-house designers, guided by Gabriel White of Small Surfaces, and community input have defined our design strategy as:

  • Flexibility without complexity
  • Confidence and control
  • Simple and Engaging
  • Help people make meaning
  • Easy group collaboration

The design strategy, research, design jams and continual community feedback will inform our next roadmap decisions.
Here are some the highlights from the two design events:
Overall tools and Collaboration
One participant opined that: “Ushahidi is actually 2 tools: what the administrators need to share and what the users (audience) needs to use.” Porting and sharing content was tantamount in people’s mind with strong suggestions to improve the API and plugin infrastructure. The users wanted to share their saved views with the public (or other users). Plus, they want to create a view using filters and map interaction, and save it.
Design Jam (Seattle)
(Seattle photo by Heather Leson)
“Make themes and Plugins a first class citizen.” Ushahidi has a wide array of use cases and personas who use/view the deployments. There is a need to allow more data views and more customization (widgets). The idea of theming according to style isn’t important, but the idea of theming in terms of how data is visualized is essential.
Should there be a distinction between mobile and web versions of the platforms based on functionality? Mobile is submission heavy, web is data visualization focused. What do you think?
Report customization was also a hot topic at the jams. Many of these items are also listed in github already as feature changes:

  • Make report submission easy and more flexible.
  • Offer a shorter, quicker report submission form.
  • Allow reports without geo
  • Bring the filters available in “Reports” view to all views (e.g. Map, admin reports list).

Over the past few months, the Ushahidi community has provided some similar feedback to the items discussed in the Design Jams. We continue to compile and distill it into actionable change for Ushahidi 3.0.
What about the pony? Well, Jigsaw Renaissance had a giant wooden My Little Pony cut-out that stared at us while we brained away. Who knew.