Open source projects are a very important part of our daily lives now. In a world where every app/software costs an arm and a leg, open source alternatives make it possible for more people to have access to essential tools.
Historically, open source projects and their products have been primarily focused on functionality. As long as the product is able to execute the basic functions for which it was built, no other effort is put in to make it accessible for potential users outside of the developer community. As a result, adoption of Open Source projects has been slow outside of the developer community over the years. A prime example is open source design software adoption by designers. Most designers will gladly pay for expensive software instead of switching to free/low cost open source alternatives.
In recent times, new software and apps are released in the hundreds and thousands daily, introducing an issue of clutter and users are spoilt for choice as to which software/app to use.
Currently, most open source communities don’t include user-centred design practises when building their projects. This results in the projects being released with unfriendly diction (use of complex/technical words that non-technical people don’t understand), little to no accessibility features to aid people with certain disabilities, complex user flows and journeys among others.
To build accessible and inclusive open source projects and increase adoption, communities can:
Look towards including product designers in the teams
Apply most common accessibility features in their projects by making it easy for those using with screen readers, ensuring that text is readable for users by adhering to WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) standards.
Employ basic user-centred design principles in their workflow (by validating user problems, building what users want/need, quickly testing mockups with users, iletrating and making changes to reflect user feedback).
Improve the visual look and feel of their projects. Open source design software such as The Pencil Project and Penpot can be used to make this happen.
Session author bios
I am a Senior Product Designer currently leading the digital product efforts at Petra group in Accra, Ghana. I focus on Accessibility and inclusive design.
Over the past 5 years, I have worked with individuals, startups and large organisations to ideate, build and launch apps in Fintech, edTech, Health, AgroTech and other spaces.
I also volunteer with Django Girls to help introduce ladies to Python/Django programming and with my Non-Profit initiative "UX Campus" where I mentor junior UX designers.
When I am not designing, volunteering or mentoring junior designers, I play soccer, watch a movie or I work on my side project "Mizormor" which is a platform that connects travelers to travel and tour agencies.
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