Why Are Most Open Source Application And Websites So FUgly?
Lets Start with PHP.net apache.org and w3.org, a quick look at the WayBack machine tells me these sites haven’t changed a bit since 2000(the Apache site is stuck with the same design since 1996). I can understand if these were small fledging projects but projects like PHP and Apache are massive and widely used. What about the w3c site? Would we be making pretty cross browsers sites if they hadn’t set up the standards, yet their own site is stuck in the 80s.
One of the aspects of open source that has been touted is the contributions from the community and people involved in the projects. In the case of PHP and Apache I see a clear disconnect between the developers and users(developers and designers who use PHP). When it comes to huge projects the open source model some how tends to break down since its very hard to keep/manage the communities of massive sizes and take everybody’s views.
There are three projects that I would like to point out which have been massively successful in maintaining the open source model.
- Mozilla FireFox
All three of these projects have beautiful sites, great marketing, huge communities.
My first experience with open source communities started with Mambo/Joomla CMS and it really fascinated me how a whole community and developers together left Mambo to create Joomla. As a projects becomes bigger other than development and maintenance it becomes important to handle other aspects of the project. Here take a look at some of the key people who are responsible for Joomla. If you notice out of the 17 key founding members only 9-10 of them are developers and project managers below is a list of other roles.
- Sites & Infrastructure Coordinator : Forum Admin
- Shop Team Lead
- Fundraising Team Lead
- Documentation Working Group Coordinator
- Events Team Lead
- Design & Accessibility Working Group Coordinator
- Quality & Testing Working Group Coordinator
- Translations Coordinator
- Marketing & Media Team Lead
Hey even have a honour roll that shows the list of previous Key members and their roles. the same goes for Mozilla FireFox because the roles and responsibilities have been divided among a few key community members the whole project benefits since these key members can focus on their roles. Have you seen The FireFox Campus Edition website do you think a developer came up with this idea? very unlikely. I love the design and plus what a great way to attract students to use FireFox. All they had to do was create a funky looking WebPage and repackage FireFox with some cool/useful extensions. Shows how important marketing and media is for any projects.
Another thing I really liked about Joomla was their forum which is massive and well organised and structured with a ton of volunteers. All the developers, Volunteers have real pictures in their profiles.
The problem with most Open Source projects is they are started by developers who continue to follow the same process even when the’ve grown big without realizing the need to expand and evolve, they rather take refuge in a restricted mailing lists far from the noobs.
Hey WordPress Devs you need to learn a few things here.