Mozfest 2021: UX Clinic

For Mozfest 2021, the UX Clinic was organised by Simply Secure staff members and others that are part of the community that Simply Secure maintains for designers working in the intersection of design, human rights, technology and open source. There were a number of ‘rooms’ that the clinic visitors could rotate around after ntroductions were given about our experience and interests as designers in the FLOSS space and the Human Rights technology space. There was enough time to rotate to two different ‘clinic helper’ spaces and have a group discussion in 10-15 minutes or have a 1-2-1 (if there were no other clinic visitors that needed help.

Two conversation examples

The space that I (Eriol Fox) helped with had two primary topics that we covered:

Radical Engineers

The topic around how to ask for design help and how, as a person not deeply knowledgeable about different design practices and skills, to better understand what you want to ask for.

A community member from Radical Engineers came to ask advice on what kind of designer they needed to look for and what different design ‘job titles’ can mean.

They were really struggling with how to ask for what they wanted in a quick and concise way while navigating the ever growing number of design job titles and terms! After discussing what they needed we talked about a particular kind of designer that can do ‘Motion graphics’ which can be part infographics and visulisation skills with the skills of being able to animate and make those graphics and visulisations come to life. We spoke about the differences in designers and graphics creators skill sets and tools they use to create what the Radical Engineers wanted, which included a conversation about the prevelance of proprietory tools like Adobes tools in order to acheive design work like this and how there are still viable open source alternatives which are about SVG and code based animations. I reminded the Radical Engineers of the dominance of proprietary tools in designers lives and how there will be some designers that can create what they need using OSS tools but perhaps they can consider the time scales that they needs this work to include those designers time and support to learn about OSS ways to make motion graphics in the case that the designers that are interested are used to proprietary tools.

Digital Grassroots

The second conversation we had was centred around mentoring and methods for mentoring in OSS that have worked in the past.

A person who works at Digital Grassroots came in to ask about how they can grow and create a community feeling around mentoring and how to encourage participation in broader mentoring conversations.

The advice that I (Eriol) gave around mentoring is how important it was to grow an authentic relationship between the mentor and mentee and to encourage mentee to mentee communication and support networks too. I’ve found when mentoring OSS technologists around design considerations and open source design contributors the best way to support these individuals is to talk about what they are doing with technology, design and OSS but also talk about the other things they are passionate about and thinking about as the build their tech and contribute to OSS. Our lives as people are not as removed from the work (both paid and OSS volunteer) as we think or hope and being abe to acknowledge this as a mentor and making it clear the mentee knows you value their health and growth makes for a relationship based on care and empathy. This in turn, helps the mentees to extend the same empathy and compassion to the people that use their technology tools and OSS.

The other helpers in the Mozfest 2021 UX Clinic had conversations around accesibility, usability and inclusion across various OSS technologies and human rights projects as well as specifically giving UX feedback for a wildlife preservation photography website. Going over flows for uploading photos and providing geographical information and metadata, as well as editing the photos.