This March, PatternFly community leadership developed a survey to gather feedback and ideas on how to make our various methods of communication better suit the needs of current and prospective community members. In this post, we’ll share the results and our interpretations, as well as actions we’ve already taken based on the feedback received.
Who came to the party?
The survey was intended to solicit feedback and opinions regarding the monthly PatternFly community meeting and various other communications. Respondents were also asked to provide basic background information, such as their discipline of practice and current role.
Invitations were sent via multiple channels: the PatternFly mailing list, a Red Hat user experience design (UXD) team member distribution list, and the #patternfly IRC channel on Freenode. The survey was also introduced during the March community meeting. Because many invitees were members of multiple channels, it’s estimated that approximately 120 individual people were invited to respond. Of those, twelve community members responded to the survey. Admittedly, a 10% response rate is less than ideal, but the input that we gained has been valued nonetheless.
PatternFly serves both designers and developers and we want to make sure our communications are useful for both groups. Respondents mostly identified themselves as designers (interaction or visual). Developers were probably too busy cranking out code to participate in the survey, but we’d still love to hear from them in the comments!
A fairly even split between individual contributor and leadership roles prevailed with our respondents. Knowing this, we will make sure that we include messaging for both audiences — nuts-and-bolts how-to content and future-looking information for planning.
What’s the news?
At any given point in time, PatternFly has many concurrently running projects discussed on many different avenues. To help members home in on just what they’re interested in, we wanted to make sure that we generate “Goldilocks” content: not too much, not too little, not too frequent, not too seldom, not irrelevant…juuust right.
Note: Values for the mean (average) and median (the point where half of the responses fell above and half fell below) were derived by converting points on the scale of interest to numerical values (e.g., “Not at all Interested” = 1, “Slightly Interested = 2, and so forth) The mode (most frequent response) required no conversion.
Respondents showed that they are working in the present and thinking about their future. Information on final, coded designs was the hottest topic, but they also want to learn more about in-progress designs. The survey also revealed that there is a lot of interest in learning about upcoming work. In future community meetings and other communications, we’ll continue sharing completed work, but also make a point to include our priorities and upcoming projects so that you can better plan your own work.
Starting with the most recent community meeting, the agenda has already had a makeover to support these findings. Agendas previously were organized by pattern and presenter, but going forward, topics will be organized into these categories so you can leave the call after you’ve heard what you want. (But we’d love for you to stay the entire time!)
A new item on the agenda, beginning with the March community meeting, is providing time to discuss requirements that aren’t currently supported in PatternFly. This has already paid off; in general, there was a big improvement in dialog on this topic.
There was only a slight interest in site and social media metrics amongst respondents. For the core members, watching our proverbial baby grow into a full-fledged community project is a joyous event, so seeing site traffic spike after a conference is probably more fun for us than for the community at large. In the future, we won’t spend time on this topic in the meeting, except for the occasional point of particular interest. More detailed information will continue to be reported to the Red Hat UXD team.
Unsurprisingly, with the majority of respondents being designers, code reviews on the agenda wasn’t that popular. Reviewing code was never explicitly part of the community meeting, and the survey results suggest that was the right approach.
How’d you hear about us?
Fine-tuning the content of the meeting and communications is an important task. But, the most interesting and relevant content in the world is only useful if it can be easily found and consumed by the intended readers. To that end, we wanted to make sure we were in touch with community members’ preferences about where they obtain their PatternFly information.
These two questions seem very similar, but actually approach the query from different angles. The former asks the respondent about the information source he or she uses the most, indicating that the selection is his or her preferred source. The latter question let respondents select multiple information sources, which lets us see whether and how much all our information sources are being used. The amalgam of these responses shows us that we should focus our reporting efforts on the PatternFly.org web site and the mailing list. Not much love was shown for social media; sorry Twitter!
Contributors work hard and are eager for designers and developers to consume the fruits of their labors, so it’s great to see that respondents reported being satisfied with how they learn about the previous month’s work. But, there is always room for improvement, so if there is a way we can make this content even better, we would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
When is a good time for you?
With community members from all corners of the globe, it’s gratifying to see that something as difficult as the meeting schedule generally meets respondents’ needs.
If you’d like to participate in PatternFly and can’t attend during that time slot (10 a.m. EST every 4 weeks starting with April 20, 2016), don’t despair! All community meetings are recorded and posted to https://www.patternfly.org/community/monthly-community-meeting/.
While a third of the respondents indicated that they’re unlikely to watch the recorded video if they were unable to attend, half responded that there would be a 50% chance that they would. While we will make the recorded video available even if interest was very low, it’s good to hear that some people are probably catching up on what they missed.
Where do we go from here?
If you’ve been a regular attendee of the community meeting or are a long-term PatternFly community member, you’ll see changes being rolled in over the next couple of months. If you’re new to PatternFly, what a great time to join! The content and messaging you encounter will be fresher and more on-point than ever.
If you missed the survey the first time around, we’d still love to hear from you. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Many thanks to my co-contributors on this article – Leslie Hinson and Patrick Cox.