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Thread: Usability study conducted on several different DE's

  1. #1
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    Usability study conducted on several different DE's

    A small GUI usability study was conducted at a local college by a friend and I was asked to help:

    20 participants, 12 female 8 male, youngest 18 oldest 31

    Live sessions of ubuntu spins were used (my suggestion as it runs better than VM's and we weren't allowed to modify boot partitions).


    Participants were asked to perform 12 simple tasks in each DE (simple stuff like transferring files and starting firefox, etc), they were asked to classify from 1 to 10 (least to most favorable) the experience they had. This is the rounded average of those 20:


    - Xubuntu 7

    - Lubuntu 8

    - Ubuntu 6

    - Ubuntu gnome 2

  2. #2
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    Re: Usability study conducted on several different DE's

    Hey, nice
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  3. #3
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    Re: Usability study conducted on several different DE's

    I've used Ubuntu for 3 years.

    I discovered Lubuntu 2 weeks ago. I would confirm the first place of Lubuntu.
    ( except one bugs with the display settings - and the way to signal them - I still have not found out )

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    Re: Usability study conducted on several different DE's

    I'm not surprised at Xubuntu's rating. I have Xfce DE on my ubuntu and it's marvelous, simply marvelous.
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  5. #5
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    Re: Usability study conducted on several different DE's

    Lubuntu with it's bottom task bar and simple start menu simply cannot be confusing for Windows users. I am not surprised it got the upper hand on your survey.

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    Re: Usability study conducted on several different DE's

    I won't argue the results, though more information would be nice.
    Like what 12 things, and were those the only desktops tested?
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  7. #7
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    Re: Usability study conducted on several different DE's

    What was the Linux experience level of the users surveyed?
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  8. #8
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    Re: Usability study conducted on several different DE's

    Quote Originally Posted by deadflowr View Post
    though more information would be nice.

    Absolutely... but this work is not mine, it's a paper a friend is doing for a college class (not his thesis, no, the direct translation would be more like an essay).


    Anyway, once it's completed and graded I will be sure to ask his permission to translate and upload it.

    Since I helped set the experience up and was there the whole time I can try answering any question:

    "What was the Linux experience level of the users surveyed?"

    They were all college students but they were selected because they were not studying in the IT field, economics and humanities (I can recall one guy was majoring in marketing management and one girl was majoring in English...)

    They were never asked about previous Linux experience but once they red the 'experience' document and saw xubuntu/ubuntu etc mentioned one girl said that her brother had been a ubuntu user for years and one of the guys had purchased a netbook that had a netbook version of ubuntu a few years back.


    - Each and single one of them was familiar with Luna and Aero (windows xp/vista/7)... experiences with metro are another part of my friend's essay so they were never asked about it

    - I don't remember exactly but about half of them were daily users or had used some version of Aqua in the past (40% owned apple laptops and about 60% had access to os x systems)

    - All but one had a smartphone (android/ios and 2 had some nokia thing that was not windows looked like an old nokia OS).


    LXDE:

    - They were immediately familiar with the DE, had no trouble locating programs or performing tasks in the file manager... some were annoyed about the lack of a control panel 'window' and there only being a menu still connecting to wifi and changing backgrounds had 100% success. Some mentioned that they didn't like the [sic] 'ascetic aesthetics' black and white icons etc... despite complaining about menu complexity they all classified their experience with very positive.


    XFCE:

    - The thing I remember most vividly was about half of them laughing/asking about the little XFCE mouse in the logo/wallpaper and how a little friendly touch like that made the DE seem more approachable. 3 Windows only users immediately asked if the top bar could be lowered, the majority didn't care... Windows users enjoyed the whisker menu and had no trouble operating it, OS X users seemed to have to take some time to grasp the left right sub menu thing.... The icon size in the whisker menu and the layout had some people complaining... The complexity of the control panel was another contentious point but this goes into detail in my friend's essay so I'll just wait. Everyone was able to perform the tasks and everyone classified the experience as a positive

    Unity:

    - I won't write much about it since we left the default configuration on so the global menu thing seemed to divide people as OS X/win users liked/didn't care and windows only users were confused... Most complained about the fact you couldn't move the sidebar to a lower horizontal position, some people had trouble understanding how to auto hide the sidebar. There were more complaints about lack of information in sidebar icons and managing multiple windows but this goes into minute detail and I wouldn't be able to write it properly.... bottom line was OS X users classified the experience as more positive than windows only users and still there were some complaints about usability, window information etc etc etc... still everyone was able to complete the tasks and they classified the experience as mostly positive. There seemed to be a love/hate thing with the dash menu, some people seemed to really like it others hated it


    Gnome:

    - This didn't go as well as we would expect and we decided to reduce the sample from 20 people to 10 people as it proved frustrating for us to have to guide people and they kept complaining etc... anyway everyone complained about stuff like lack of a minimize button, [sic] 'windows jumping all over the place', difficulty in switching apps etc etc etc... even when asked to act like they were using their smartphone people didn't get it and since I wasn't getting paid and my friend had enough material to write we decided to cut short.

    Last edited by nomenkultur; September 2nd, 2014 at 11:20 AM.

  9. #9
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    Re: Usability study conducted on several different DE's

    a gruelling session... I wonder if you got more people how the result would be like. as well as KDE is missing. the biggest and most polished ones are still Gnome/Unity and KDE, then comes XFCE and after that LXDE. that's the way I see it.
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  10. #10
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    Re: Usability study conducted on several different DE's

    What I pretty much concluded from this experience:

    In a DE people want the simplicity/responsiveness of lxde/xfce with the polish of aero/aqua...

    They also want the DE to be as non intrusive/background as possible, like it only serves the purpose to get user from A to B

    When the DE tries to take center stage, gnome even unity (a bit), and teach the user how to use it (metro, gnome) then the problems begin.


    Simplicity + tradition + polish = DE that everyone seems to enjoy


    gnome classic, mate, cinnamon, KDE I think should be tested but hey I wasn't the one who designed this experiment and the paper is not mine so not my place to decide

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