Improving the new Quasar website with the contribution of the community
How we and the Quasar team put hard criticism to good use
By Niccolò Maria Menozzi
In December 2022 Razvan Stoenescu published a beta version of the new website on a dedicated subdomain to collect early feedback. Since then the website underwent many fixes and on 28th March it was officially released. In this article we will go over some important phases of this project and the role the community had in defining the final version of the UI.
The renewal of Quasar branding, its official website, and technical documentation has been ongoing for years now. Dreamonkey has been involved in the process from its early stages, as we offered to contribute as part of our technical sponsorship efforts. We initially wished to create a solid project that was nevertheless lean and well-outlined, but we now acknowledge that, although we never thought it would be a walk in the park, it became a long evolutionary process instead. Of course evolution is in the very fiber of Dreamonkey, but it was a challenging ride. Everything started in 2020 with a survey, things then started to get rolling in 2021 with a new logo and the first beta saw the light in December 2022, after a closed-door review and a preview for sponsors, both occurring in the same year. We supported and performed these activities on a volunteer basis, pouring in our UX design expertise over the Quasar team efforts.
Although the community liked and even loved the survey and rebrand, with the release of the beta of our site, things got a bit complicated.
A year-long wait for the Quasar Beta
Things don’t always go as planned, but those who keep at it and don’t get discouraged can obtain results. As we mentioned in our 2022 company report, the Quasar official roadmap included the release of the new site back in 2021, just a few months after the release of the new logo, in line with what had already been done.
More or less in the same period some unexpected work and personal events and engagements came up which forced both us and the Quasar team to drastically slow planning and development times. So it was that, with internal board meetings, changes of heart, disagreements and desires for improvement while trying to match up our schedules, months passed and the beta finally came out shortly after the end of 2022.
We hoped we were finally at the end of a long and challenging process, but we were in for a bit of a shock. Indeed, the early feedback from the community on Github, between the end of December and the start of 2023 went from lukewarm to outright critical, if not almost hostile.
Community feedback from criticism to suggestions
Color contrasts that were too intense, too much information, texts that were too long or short, large or small, unreadable fonts, a graphic style that was too old fashioned, unnecessary decorative details, etc. We collected a substantial list of aspects that, according to part of the community, needed to be changed. It was clear that, despite all the effort put into the project, the result had been affected by choices that were perhaps too audacious, along with planning issues that came up in 2022.
It did not help that our attempt to communicate the objectives of the Quasar rebranding process, from the survey to the beta release, obviously did not reach the whole of the community. It’s true that the awareness around this sort of initiative can help users accept changes, but it’s not an easy task, especially when dealing with an open-source community-driven project, for which there isn’t the backing of a large enterprise with unlimited budget.
Being many of the reported issues related to UI/UX decisions for which Dreamonkey was directly responsible, we certainly did not shy away from a good dose of healthy self-criticism and we undertook a further revision process guided by Razvan himself, which led to the March release. We revised the most creative typographical aspects we experimented with that got negative feedback. With these changes and removing some unpopular stylistic elements (for example some blue glow effects), we brought the Docs section closer to the users’ comfort zone.
Some thoughts about this experience
After this harsh reality check, we came away with some considerations often forgotten when you are exposed to the online judgment of many people, almost always strangers.
First of all, listening to criticism. When you are too deeply immersed in a project, you may lose that external point of view, fresh and unconditioned, which allows you to identify those ideas that work according to internal logic and convictions, but won’t hold up when exposed to a less “protected” environment.
We are also aware that you can’t please everyone all of the time and often those who are dissatisfied are louder than those who aren’t, especially when dealing with early adopters. This can create the impression that the work done needs a complete overhaul but, as unpleasant as this experience may seem, if the project has been designed using logic and professionalism, it probably isn’t the case.
The fact that criticism can be contradictory shows that the evaluation process of users has a subjective element that is difficult to cancel out. On this topic, tests and data collected with rigorous methods are usually more reliable to understand the satisfaction and impact on the users.
Criticism must be dealt with humbly, but with detachment, making an effort to understand the point of view and competence of those who offer it and why they do so. This is a good way to distinguish problems from opinions. The former are concrete, the latter obviously subjective, based on personal expectations, or taste.
This revision process is a complex activity, which contains an element of subjectivity itself, but we realize that it is unavoidable. Accepting all criticism sometimes meaning accepting everything and its opposite, at the same time means watering down the identity that makes us unique. In fact, in cases like these, this identity is a motor for change and a resource to discover new ways to understand communication and aesthetic-functional criteria.
Finally, the decision to use the beta as a test of the official release was a good one, allowing the Quasar team to address the problems outlined by the most constructive comments of the most vocal part of the community, before releasing it to the wider public.
Now that the site has been officially released, we are pleased to observe mostly positive feedback and that the overall satisfaction level drastically improved when compared to the beta phase.
Intentions for the future of Quasar
As we already mentioned, this official release does not mark the end of this project. On the contrary, it kicks off a new phase of improvement and expansion that will allow us to refine the UI/UX and improve the way in which Quasar tells its story, over and over.
We know for sure that an important step in the following months will be to create a new survey to collect more precise data on user satisfaction regarding the new site and to evaluate community suggestions.