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Written by Sarah Levis   
Wednesday, 29 June 2011

LDSTech Website Project

LDSTech is one of the many community projects available. The goal of the LDSTech project is to improve the development and design of the overall LDSTech website. Although the LDSTech website has several elements (a blog, wiki, and forum), the project team is focusing most of its energy on the new Projects area of LDSTech.

Tom DeForest, an interaction designer, is the project lead for the LDSTech website project team. His team works on the site's user interface, trying to make the LDSTech website as user-friendly as possible. Currently Tom’s team is trying to make sure the interface of the new Projects tab allows users to intuitively access all the tab’s capabilities.

The Projects Tab

The Projects tab is a major addition to the site. Through the Projects tab, community members can join projects that interest them, and project leads can manage their projects.

The Projects tab on LDSTech

The Projects tab is constantly being improved with new features. For example, when a member joins a project from the list of community projects available under the Projects tab, he or she automatically becomes an Observer on the team. As an Observer, he or she has access both to JIRA, which contains bug tracking information for the project, and to the Subversion (SVN) code repository, where the source code is stored for the application.


The new volunteer can even download the source code and start to make changes. However, as an Observer, the new volunteer cannot upload or commit the code to SVN until a project lead changes the volunteer’s role from Observer to Developer. At that point the volunteer has full rights to commit code.

This auto-provisioning of JIRA and SVN allows new volunteers to get up and running quickly, with little technical administration from the project lead. In the future, new users will automatically be added to an e-mail list for the project as well.

Other New Administrative Features

The Projects tab contains other administrative functions for community teams. The project description page lists all team members and their contact information. You can click a team member’s name to see basic information about the team member, such as his or her location and picture. This information appears for team members who voluntarily decide to add the information and photos in their profiles. In the future, team members will be able to add short descriptions of themselves as well.

From the Projects tab, project leads can add and remove members, e-mail all members at once, find new members that match the skillsets of their projects, edit their project information (such as the project wiki page and description), change team member roles, and more.

All of this project management functionality has been added within the last few months, and it significantly enhances the ability of community projects to get the resources and information they need to move their projects forward.

The ongoing work of Tom’s LDSTech community project is to find a way to infuse the whole process with push-button simplicity so that both volunteers and project leads can get up and running without confusion. As such, the goal of the LDSTech community project team isn’t an independent project—it’s a project whose success makes all other community projects more successful.

Usability Testing

It’s difficult to know which areas of the site are hard to use unless people are willing to report back on what aspects of the interface are confusing. Tom says the team really needs feedback from website users about the site’s usability. The team invites all community members to test the Project tab’s capabilities.

After logging in to the test environment (see login details on the wiki), click Projects and you’ll see the following interface:

LDSTech test site interface

As you test the interface, think about scenarios that may come up when you use the Projects tab, and evaluate the usability of the site in these scenarios. Some of these scenarios may include the following:

  • Starting and performing administrative actions on a project (sending e-mail messages to all group members, changing group member roles, adding and deleting group member).
  • Joining a project and accessing information about the project and the team (accessing JIRA and SVN, seeing changes to your rights once your role changes).
  • Having the system match you up with a project according to the skills you identify on the Skills tab.

You can evaluate the usability by asking yourself these questions as you test:

  • Are you able to understand what you’re supposed to do as you use the website?
  • Are there an appropriate number of steps in each process?
  • Is it intuitive what each link or button is supposed to do?

If the answer to any of the above questions is “No,” what would you change to make it “Yes”? You can also provide feedback about other aspects, such as color, typography, tab size, and so on.

This feedback will help the team build a website that gives community members and leaders access to tools they need as easily and efficiently as possible.

Become a Part of LDSTech

You don’t have to be a computer expert to join the LDSTech team. The team needs people with all skill levels, from tech novices to tech gurus. Additionally, the team needs people with specific skills in quality assurance, PHP development, database management, and design.

The LDS Tech team meets via internet once weekly, and the project teams may meet through the week as well. For more information about attending the meetings, see the LDSTech team’s wiki page.

If you’re interested in getting involved with the LDSTech project, sign in with your LDS Account in the sidebar, and then click Projects at the top. Click the Projects subtab to see a list of all community projects. Scroll down and click LDSTech in the left column. Then click Join.


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