Introducing the Community Design Team (Part 1)

Originally published at: Introducing the Community Design Team (Part 1) – Fedora Community Blog

This is the first part of a two-part blog post series introducing the Community Design Team (CDT) to the Fedora Community. In this post, we’ll introduce you to all of the wonderful team members and the projects they’ve been working on. In Part 2, we’ll explain how you can reach our team, make a request, and work with us!

Many of you have already been collaborating with CDT members for months now on various upstream community projects such as the Fedora Websites Revamp, the new Fedora Brand Book, the Fedora 37 artwork, and Podman’s new Podman Desktop tool. Since we formed the team, we’ve set up regular meetings, chosen our initial project set, and created a space on Fedora’s GitLab to organize our work. Now that we’ve settled in a bit and better understand how we collaborate best, we’d like to formally introduce ourselves to you as a team!

What is the Community Design Team (CDT)?

CDT logo depicting the letters "CDT" creating a bridge over water

The Community Design Team (CDT) is dedicated to providing design services to upstream open source projects and communities. Many members of our team are also members of the Community Platform Engineering (CPE) Team. We help upstream open source projects create beautiful, usable software.

What is the difference between the Community Design Team and the Fedora Design Team?

The Community Design Team (CDT) and the Fedora Design Team are closely interlaced and have a strong connection. While the Fedora Design Team focuses on Fedora and Fedora-related projects as a public, community-based team, the Community Design Team not only supports the Fedora community but also works on non-Fedora related projects.

To avoid confusion amongst the Fedora community members, we separated these tasks. Nevertheless, the CDT will also support (and continue to do so!) Fedora Design projects. These Fedora projects allow for passioante volunteers to share their experience, help, and grow within an inclusive open source community based on their available time and contribution.

If you want to know more – we will talk about this more in-depth in part 2 of this blog post.

Design Services

What do we mean by “design services?” Let us give you some examples from areas we have made contributions in over the past few months.

Branding assets for upstream projects

Our intern Jess Chitas created a full suite of logos and a mascot for Fedora events: Flock, Nest, Hatch, and Colúr the Fedora events mascot, as well as swag designs for these. Jess also created the new Fedora Brand Book. Another example: Mo created upstream project logos for projects in the Containers organization – Podman, Buildah, Skopeo, and the Containers org symbol.

User experience (UX) design and UX research services to upstream projects

Intern Gbenga Oti and Máirín (Mo) Duffy are currently in the analysis phase of a qualitative research project for Podman and Podman Desktop. They are learning about how various people in the community use containers and how to improve the tools to provide a better user experience. Gbenga is also putting together a usability test plan to test out new designs she created to revamp some of the preferences panes in Podman Desktop.

Upstream website designs

Emma Kidney (Fedora IoT, Fedora CoreOS, Fedora Cloud) and Ashlyn Knox (Flock + the new Fedora website CMS and new Fedora website front end development) engaged in user research and created design mockups for various Fedora Website Revamp sections. Emma worked with Fedora edition teams to pull together requirements for their respective websites and followed through with mockups. Ashlyn ran a series of usability tests on the new Fedora website CMS she created and updated the design, making it much easier to use, based on her findings.

Promoting a design culture in upstream communities

Madeline Peck led an open, collaborative design process for the Fedora 37 artwork set. She hosted open brainstorming sessions, provided public updates, hosted testing sessions, and invited community participation every step of the way. Madeline is also mentoring a designer for the Fedora Design Team as part of the Outreachy program. This demonstrates how to build a consistent, usable icon set for Fedora’s Matrix channels the open source way.

Upstream Open Source Projects and Communities

We provide these services (and many more) to open source projects and communities. Which open source projects and communities do we work with?

Fedora and CentOS communities

As does the CPE team, the CDT works with the Fedora and CentOS communities on projects of importance to them. This includes working with various teams under the Fedora and CentOS communities, including the Fedora Mindshare team and the teams under it, as well as individual edition / spin / initiative teams.

Containers / Podman / Podman Desktop communities

The projects these communities produce are tools that are a critical part of Fedora’s conceptual model – we want these tools to succeed to help Fedora succeed. We also believe the inclusive, cross-compatible approach to container technology these tools take means they will be of great benefit to the broader open source community beyond Fedora.

Other strategic open source projects

For example, Mo has been part of a multi-year embedded UX engagement with the ChRIS project. ChRIS is an open source, open science project that uses container technology such as kubernetes to enable medical image processing in the cloud. This project is of strategic importance for many reasons, not the least of which is that it is an applied example of the technologies our team supports. This lets us better understand how it is used in the field and how we can improve it.

In our next blog we can let you know how your community could be considered for future work by the CDT.

Why does the CDT exist? What are its goals?

There are a number of reasons we felt it was important to coordinate a team of designers working on upstream projects connected to CPE:

Better user experience for upstream projects

The open source model of software development often results in downstream projects inheriting decisions that create a less-than-optimal user experience. Downstream projects either create workarounds for these issues, or reinvent (sometimes in a forked, proprietary way) the user experience components to improve it. We believe it is better for designers to be involved at the start, upstream, before it is too late to reverse decisions that may negatively impact the user experience for years to come. User experience is critical to software freedom.

One-stop shopping for upstreams and partners

Instead of hunting across different teams or asking individual contacts for design favors, there is one queue that community members can file a ticket in in order to get help from our group. For the designers, this also means that, as life happens, they have peers that can step in and assist. This helps team members be able to step away for PTO, emergencies, and other extended absences. We also hope this will reduce duplication of effor due to multiple designers working on the same thing without coordination.

Help upstream projects become more friendly & inviting to design contributions

Open source culture is still centers on code contributions by default. We aim to help the upstream projects we work with shift this culture to be more inclusive of non-code contributions, including design contributions. By being visible upstream design contributors, we can set an example. By shifting the way projects track design-related issues and tasks, we can open the door to welcome additional community design contributions.

Introducing the current CDT members!

Jess Chitas created these trading cards for the current members of the CDT community. Here is our current team roster:

  • Trading card for Máirín Duffy - Sr. Principal Interaction Designer - IRC mizmo - Since 2004 - Likes playing with my daughters, fruit smoothies, road trips, Gaeilge - Dislikes proprietary software, politicians - Preferred Title Ní Dhufaigh
  • Trading card for Madeilne Peck - Associate Interactive Designer - IRC mpeck - since 2020 - Likes boba, tacos, lily of the valley, Animal Crossing - Dislikes shrimp, wet socks, green tea, cold cloudy days - Preferred Title Miss
  • Trading card for Jess Chitas - UX Intern - IRC jesschitas - since 2022 - Likes Pokemon, FPS games, Graphic Design, Music - Dislikes clowns, the dark, not top-fragging in CS:GO - Preferred Title Silver Elite
  • Trading card for Emma Kidney - Associate Software Engineer - IRC ekidney - since 2021 - Likes crochet, coffee, the Office US, tarot cards - Dislikes spiders, fish, raisins, sticky fingers - Preferred Title The Crocheting Cat Lady
  • Trading card for Ashlyn Knox - Web Developer - Since 2020 - IRC lilyx - Likes longboarding, blending tea, coding, spatial design, and penguins! - Dislikes Theremin - Preferred Title: 'Cyber Witch'
  • Trading Card for Gbenga Oti - UX/UI Intern - Since 2022 - IRC @gbengaoti - Likes Music, Baking, Crocheting, Design - Dislikes Rainy Days - Preferred Title: "The Langauge Connoisseur"
  • Trading card for Ellen O'Carroll - Technical Project Manager - Since 2021 - IRC @eocarrol - Likes dogs, the beach, music, good food - Dislikes loud noises, bugs, and bad food - Preferred Title: "Dog Mom"

Reaching out to the CDT and working with us

In part two, we’ll talk about how you can best reach our team: where we hang out, how you can make a request and generally how to work with us. See you next month!

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