Foundation/User Experience Working Group

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The user experience working group is a proposal by Nickb to form a working group that can help OSM develop better user experiences.

Status: This working group has not yet been formulated (no members chosen and meetings held) It's currently just an idea. The idea was put forward in Aug 2009.

Do we need user experience working group?

The direction of user experience related development is currently entirely in the hands of those who develop the OpenStreetMap software and website (and those who oversee code commits). Changes and improvements are made iteratively and often in response to community concerns raised on the various Contact channels (e.g. trac) This works fairly well, but usability is still a massive area for improvement. Perhaps a working group can help focus minds and take a more "big picture" view for design decisions related to UX.

It is worth noting that there exists a school of thought in OSM which says that making a end-user (non-mapper) friendly website is, while laudable, not a goal to which the project should allocate resources ("we're not aiming to be a better Google Maps, we're aiming to be a better Navteq"); people who adhere to this thinking say that while OSM should offer tools for mappers, it should not necessarily have typical end-user things like routing or online communities based on location or something like that. The counter-argument is that by winning a large number of end-users, OSM could perhaps make some of them into mappers. The discussion takes place, intermittently, on the talk mailing list. In any case it is clear that good user experience for new mappers is important.

First pass Mission Statement:

To give advice and guidance to make the OpenStreetMap tools and website universally accessible and useful, thereby broadening the OpenStreetMap community and enhancing the depth and breadth of map data made available by OpenStreetMap


  • Advising OpenStreetMap developers on best practices and approaches to developing user interfaces for OpenStreetMap tools and websites
  • All elements of UX relating to the use of OpenStreetMap tools and websites

Examples: - Main website of OpenStreetMap. Possible scope of work here could involve re-thinking how a website can support both an online community and real-world groups that are based around maps and location - OpenStreetMap Editor "Potlatch". Possible scope of work here is significant, for example: should the same tool be used by new and experienced mappers. How can a mapping tool reflect the diversity of the communities that use it (eg cyclists mapping cycle paths, hikers mapping hiking trails). - The Map itself - with an ever increasing dataset, contributions from people from different cultural backgrounds, how can a map reflect the diversity of languages, cultures and data that exist within OSM