FOSS Backstage Design – The power of adding a story to your demo

Join René Kriegler, OSC’s Director of E-commerce Search, at a new event – FOSS Backstage Design.

How can open source projects that deal with complicated and niche concepts like search query rewriting become easy to understand and approachable to users? We’ll share how we solved this problem by a powerful demo, videos, katas and finally telling the story of Pete, the search product manager.

Some open source projects deal with complicated concepts that can be hard to understand and that cover a niche problem. There is an entry barrier to those projects, which can only be overcome by demonstrating and educating potential users about the benefits of the software and about how to actually use it.

In this talk, we will show how we solved this problem for a set of search-related open source softwares. Each of the libraries deals with a very specific problem, such as query rewriting and search result evaluation. We finally decided to create a separate open source project, “Chorus”, that shows how these components work together in a demo online shop.

We created the persona of Pete – a search product manager who was given the task to improve a company’s e-commerce search. In as series of videos, we explained how Pete solves specific problems by help of our software and we added a series of katas that explain to developers how to implement specific solutions. The feedback that we have received indicates that this has made the concepts behind our software much more approachable.

We think that the idea of combining a meaningful demo application with telling a story that empathises with the actual day-to-day work of a relevant user group might inspire other open source projects and help them improve the user experience and adoption of their software.

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