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ux is not optional

Apache OpemMeetings has been released, and just…look at the screenshots on the landing page.

File Explorer

That’s just a single example. If all of them looked like this — objectively not good but consistently not good — that might be something. But of course, none of the other screenshots look like this. They’re all awful in completely new ways.

Many years ago a coworker wanted to use some janky open source tool for some internal backoffice stuff we needed. It looked just as bad as this, but their reaction was something like: who cares what it looks like? It does what we need, and it’s free.

We build web applications.. We should have a developed aesthetic sense for the tools we build and live with every day! If I shipped something that looked like Apache OpenMeetings to my users, I’d be ashamed at best, and likely I’d lose some users.

Let me be clear: UX is hard. Complex UX is very hard, and making a complex workflow simple and beautiful is an entire career path, you can spend your life learning how to do it right. Apache OpenMeetings is likely volunteer-created, and very few UX masters are volunteering their expensive time.

But there’s a huge difference between “mastery” and “basically trying” and they didn’t shoot for either.

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