Call for Developers (Was: Re: The Website)

Charlie Root root at
Wed Mar 31 20:02:47 PST 2004

On Wed, Mar 31, 2004 at 06:27:31PM +0200, Devon H. O'Dell wrote:
> Please, if you're interested in helping, let me know.

	Can we have at least some of the dialogue concerning the
	website on the mailing lists. It would help to keep the
	discussions/themes/ideas from becoming volatile (in the
	sense of a new subscriber might miss the thread).

	I had a closer look at some of the sites mentioned - RedHat,
	SuSe. IBM, and m0n0wall. I started with a goal 'I want to
	download Linux' or 'I want to download software' and tried
	to get a sense of whats involved. I found it easiest to
	think of it in terms of a finite state machine with pages
	representing a state. The visual cues, information in
	proximity to those cues, and apparent target audience I
	listed as triggers for a state transition (click to the
	next state).

	What sticks out immediately is the rapid differentiation of
	customers into business and other groups. If I am a member
	of a particular group I get reinforcement of the sense that
	the product is targetted at the group I belong to.

	What also sticks out is the limited amount of thought required
	to get from one state to the next and the limited number of
	total steps in the process (in the case of RedHat - from
	'I want RedHat', to 'Buy' is 3 clicks). Also in RedHats case
	they have a neat shortcut - for anyone totally intimidated by
	whats presented after the first click they have a bright red
	1-800 number in the top/right corner. IBM employ a similar
	rapid differentiation method, they even go so far as to
	use carefully selected paradigms once they have enough
	info on what your group is (shopping carts, specials, vanity
	merchandise and 'managers choice' are prominent in the page
	designed for the home/home-office group). SuSe starts off well
	but seems to go awol along the way. Mandrake is not too bad.

	In the case of FreeBSD (and Debian). There isnt any
	differentiation. The information present seems to target
	developers and solution implementors. Theres also alot of mixing
	of information that is used by a 'decision maker' and 'solution
	implementor' in different ways. For instance - a listing of
	online CD/DVD retailers lets a decision maker know that there is
	commercial interest and that the product is usefull and sells.
	The same listing lets a solution implementor know where to
	go buy the product. The same listing lets a developer know
	that their effort is supported and that they will get credit and
	profit by what they do. But - presenting the same information
	with lists of CTM/ftp/mirror sites etc makes the decision maker
	process more difficult and immediately gives the sense that the
	site is in some way pushing developer oriented software.

	Now to products and services. IBM has a clearly defined way of
	differentiating the audience and then presenting them with the
	idea that they are buying a complete solution or service. RedHat
	do the same. But FreeBSD does not provide either a product
	targetting a specific application nor a service for a business.
	What it provides is a product that needs to be taylored to an
	application by an implementor and information on where to find
	third party services. One way of handling this is to differentiate
	the sites user and then - in the case of a businessman or
	decision maker - use case studies, news articles, etc that don't
	contain technical implementation details but do contain positive
	outcome statements particularly when these cases target a
	particular solution. Side by side with this should be the
	means to rapidly find technical oriented information so that
	responsibility for implementation can be delegated easily by
	the decision maker. An example of how this could work.

	A CEO hears about FreeBSD and visits
	he gets a visual cue that sends him through a series of states
	that provide easy to digest information and reinforces his ideas
	about himself and his business.
	now hes been differentiated and is targetted specifically by
	being presented with case studies and other information that
	tells him that others have done similar things and that a decision
	he is making is likely to be low risk, cost effective, and has a
	positive outcome.
	at this point he can click on a link that gives him implementation
	details (click: too hard, delegate to local implementori/CTO) or
	he can easily find some way to delegate responsibility to a
	third party for a solution (click: businesses that can implement
	the solution for him).

	ps: the m0n0wall website was a big help - particularly since i'd
	never visited the site and had no preconcieved ideas about the site.
	Can we get some feedback on other sites and maybe some of the ways
	they function?

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