Small apps and UX and Open Source as ways to scale

I enjoy browsing and trying small creative software tools on Something I noted is that almost all of the tools offer an enjoyable UI. Sometimes it is clunky, but it usually feels like build with and for the tool. However, I doubt that most of the tools have a separate UX designer.

This made me wonder if these tools succeed in being enjoyable to use for two reasons:

  • Their user communities include non-programmers and designers and need to appeal to them
  • The tools are small and thus are often created by one person or a small team, keeping the overhead needed to create a cohrent product low.

On the contrary, both UX design and open source can be seen as ways to scale software production beyond small tools, which…

  • …FOSS does by focusing on collaboration on code (and thus easily losing sight of all non-code aspects)
  • …UX design does by standardization and representation to enable moving personas, scenarios, HIGs etc. through organizations

A lot of the positive examples in UX name large tools, which combine open source with roles focussing on design and I agree: For large projects, dedicated design roles seem to be essential, which makes sense if one sees UX design not merely concerned with usability/usefulness but, in practice, to a large part with usability/usefulness in large-ish organizations.

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