Redesign of downloads

Paul W. Frields stickster at
Thu Jul 30 17:51:40 UTC 2009

One of the issues the Board has been discussing recently is the state
of our various download pages for Fedora.  This topic springs directly
from the process of getting to the heart of Fedora's goals.  Along the
way we've determined that one of the steps we can take is to improve
the clarity of how we present the Fedora distribution.  The way many
people come into contact with that presentation is through our
download site, which needs to provide a first-rate experience for
everyone who uses it.  This topic clearly falls into the Board's
domain, because it's to do not with the production of the Fedora
distribution, but rather with the way it's presented, and with the
design of one of the essential public-facing pieces of the project.

A good, user-centric design must be simple and easy to follow, and
provide a route for all users to reach what they want.  The most
effective route for new users of the website is usually very different
than for experienced ones, but all routes must be attractive and
effective for the people using them.  The experience we currently
provide for both these groups on our download site is not terribly
attractive or effective, and needs revision.  Thanks to some dedicated
community members, there was some work done to redesign these
experiences in the past, but for a variety of reasons those efforts
didn't fully succeed.  The Board and I want to see them back on the
front burner, so that we are providing the best possible presentation
of the many faces of Fedora, whether that presentation is more of an
introduction to free software, or intended for experienced users.

One of the visual models used by the Community Architecture and me is
one in which contributors form the tip of a large pyramid.  That
pyramid is made up of all the people who use and experience the things
that we make in this project.  (The most visible and ubiquitous of
those is the Fedora distribution itself.)  To expand that tip, we
strive to do two things: (A) make a bigger pyramid, and (B) make it
easy for people to move from the base to the tip (i.e., move from
consuming to participating, and then to contributing).

A successful redesign of our download site is really concerned with
(A) more than (B).  The site should help us grow the pyramid from the
base up, while also providing ample resources for people who are
downloading Fedora with a pre-existing purpose of participating and
contributing.  A good design has a target audience, and for these
different audiences we need different designs.  One of them should
target new users -- to grow the pyramid from the base up -- and the
other should target more experienced or adventurous users.
Specifically, we want a central site that is capable of providing more
detailed and compelling information about all Fedora spins, and a
streamlined, simple download page that presents the default Live spin.

The Board's foremost goal is to help Fedora succeed as a
contributor-centric project, at times actively leading where
necessary.  To produce these improvements for Fedora 12, we're asking
a small group of people to tackle this problem.  This approach is very
similar to how any contributor group can stage a Fedora Activity Day,
gathering a group with the skills and motivation to identify and solve
specific issues.  Fortunately, the Fedora Project has clear community
leadership already in both the areas of website design (Mo Duffy) and
website infrastructure (Ricky Zhou), whom we've asked to participate.
The Board will be responsible for developing the requirements for the
project here, and will empower them, in accordance with those
requirements, to make improvements openly and transparently for the
overall benefit of the Project.


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