The Fedora Design Team recently gave a presentation to the Fedora Council about the team’s current state, goals, and plans.
Current State of the Fedora Design Team
The Fedora Design Team held a Design Team Fedora Activity Day in January of this year. We had 15 in-person attendees (including two from APAC and one brand new local contributor) and 4 remote attendees. The total budget was around $7,000 including airfare, transport, hotel, and food.
This event was really critical to ‘rebooting’ our team in a few important ways that we’re happily still maintaining almost a year later:
- We cleaned up our ticket queue. Our ticket queue was a serious mess previous to the FAD. We had tickets that were 5 years old and completely irrelevant, critical tickets that weren’t getting attention, tickets with owners set that had long abandoned them… and way too many of them. If I recall correctly, we started out with several hundred tickets and ended up with less than 20.
- We established a process for keeping on top of our tickets. We had a brainstorm about how we’d like tickets to be handled, including what fields we wanted folks filing tickets to use and additional fields that would be helpful fo rus. Chris Roberts and Paul Frields put together the custom fields we needed and reports for us that would make ongoing triage of the tickets possible. We planned to do regular triage every 2 weeks, so at the max the number of days you should expect a response for a design ticket is now 2 weeks (but in many cases the response is sooner!)
- We reinstated regular team meetings. Previous to the FAD, we’d kind of fallen out of holding regular team meetings and it was definitely having a negative impact in terms of communication and getting things done. We picked out a time, a place, and planned out a regular agenda (including ticket triage!) for our ongoing fortnightly meetings and we have been sticking to them ever since.
On top of this, the Fedora Badges project – for which the Design Team plays a critical role in creating badge artwork – similarly redesigned their new badge submission process with positive results, including higher-quality badge suggestions.
Some Ideas for Improvement of Current Process
We are talking about doing a schedule review during our meetings since we missed at least one deliverable for F23 (media art.) A cool idea from langdon was to auto-script ticket creation for release deliverables so they were in our trac and we could just track them the same way we track any other ticket and have assignees / etc. We need help with writing such a script, though (and we might want to eventually move our ticket system to pagure.io.)
Future Design Team Plans
We talked about three specific projects we have on our plates that we have future plans for (in addition, of course, to your regularly scheduled ticket filling and release artwork duties we normally fulfill:)
- Fedora Swag Project – As Maria Leonova has already blogged, she is working on a project to sort through, organize, and create a set of official Fedora print-ready swag artwork files to better enable ambassadors and other members of the Fedora community to find high-quality, Fedora Design Team approved print-ready artwork.
- Fedora Badge Artwork Outreach – Marie held a successful Fedora Badges Workshop at Flock this past summer and we’d like to have additional badge workshop/hackathon events, particularly to help recruit new designers to Fedora. Badge artwork tends to be very well-scoped and easy for beginners (in big part thanks to Marie’s excellent design guidelines and resources) to pick up and create as their first contribution to Fedora.
- Fedora Hubs Project – We also talked about the Fedora Hubs project. We had a great UX design intern, Meghan Richardson, this past summer who did a lot of design work for Hubs’ UI. We will have another UX design intern for the summer of 2016 (Interested?? Apply here!), and the Fedora Engineering team will likely start ramping up development effort on the project this winter.
Things The Design Team Needs from the Rest of Fedora
Okay, here’s where we ask the rest of the Fedora Community for things. 🙂
Another Design Team FAD
We’d like to do another Design Team FAD in July 2016 in the Boston area. We envision the event involving both a Badge Artwork Hackathon as well as a day to work on print design materials in preparation for Flock EMEA the following month.
We’d like to integrate some kind of newcomer recruitment into the event too – maybe some kind of student participation – although July is a bad month to do this as many university students have left campus for the summer. We’re open to ideas and creative suggestions here!
Finally, we’d like to try to engage remote attendees better than we were able to at the January 2015 FAD. We had some technical issues with both the audio and conferencing software we tried to use at the last FAD.
Our cheapest option is going to be hosting at Red Hat’s office in Westford MA; we have better potential for engaging new folks if we head closer to Boston but lodging in Boston in the summer tends to be quite expensive. Another option is arranging transport for students from universities up to Westford. Again – we’re open to ideas and creative suggestions!
Our next step is to create a draft proposal for the FAD, which we will be working on.
Show Me the Content
Consider this a friendly Fedora Public Service Announcement (PSA) –
The design team frequently receives last-minute design requests that do not include actual (text) content to use. Sometimes we as designers come up with the content even though it’s not our thing.
Please be kind to your designer friends and don’t ask us to design stuff until you have your content / goals / vision to share with us so we can make you a nice design.
Can Has Specs? Printer Info? Reasonable Time?
Another friendly Fedora PSA. 🙂
The integrity of our design work should be treated as seriously as the integrity of Fedora’s code, so please provide us specs and info on printers / vendors so we can make sure our design work reflects Fedora’s brand correctly (and in enough time to get the job done.)
Recruiting and Retention
We spoke briefly about recruiting and retention on the Fedora Design Team.
This is an area we have room for improvement on:
- Lowering Barriers: We do think our recent hyperkitty list migration might help in lowering the barrier for new designers to participate on our mailing list, as no email interaction is needed to participate in our team’s mailing list anymore, and our team’s communications can be followed and engaged in exclusively via the forum-like web interface.
- Virtual Meetup Idea: We’ve had some ideas to do virtual event like office hours at regular intervals so newbies could show up for hands on help.
- Retention Rate is OK: We think our retention rate is pretty typical. Usually when we lose folks it’s because of a changing life situation – new job, graduate from school, etc.
- Not Much Recruitment Effort: We need to focus more on recruitment; don’t put a lot of active effort into it. Mostly folks come to our mailing list and volunteer and we try our best to follow up; only a few continue to engage. Some of our recruits are technical and want to learn more about design; some of our recruits have a strong design background but don’t know as much about the technical bits.
The final point we brought up was the Design Team’s relationship with swag. Traditionally Fedora’s swag has been very haphazard without (seemingly) much centralized organization; designs often get put together last minute and our assets end up all over the place. Maria’s project will help with the disorganization for sure.
However, there are other concerns around swag. There are significant regional differences in production – some regions get much more than others. There are also potential environmental impacts to the amount of swag produced. Sometimes the types of swag that are suggested to be produced also aren’t the best way to represent Fedora.
Should we consider some bounds on swag production to help manage it (example would be T-shirts for FUDcons/Flocks but not for FADs as a policy – as T-shirts are more impactful environmentally / cost-wise.) Could we consider alternatives to T-shirts?
The council meeting discussion lead to a suggestion of creating a draft swag policy to try to organize thoughts around this.
I hope this summary gives a good overview about what the Fedora Design Team has been up to over the past year and what we’ll be working on in the future, as well as effective ways to engage with us if you’re filing ticket requests for design work. Any constructive ideas, criticism, or other feedback are certainly more than welcome!
If you’d like to join our team, please visit our join page on the Fedora wiki – it outlines the joining process. We essentially request that you introduce yourself to the team and fulfill one small task before we approve your official membership into the team.