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Jargon, compatibility major stumbling blocks for new Ubuntu users

By   |  June 18, 2010

Jargon that they didn’t understand, insecurity over compatibility with Microsoft Office and a lack of visual feedback when performing desktop actions were the key stumbling blocks for first-time Ubuntu users.

This is according to results from recent usability testing by the Ubuntu design team.

According to the team one of the main areas of concerns for new users was compatibility with Microsoft Office. “Most all our participants habitually used Microsoft Office. As they explored OpenOffice, one of their main concerns was the degree of its compatibility with other software.”

File formats

Another concern for users when using OpenOffice was the ODF format. User said that they were concerned about how a format that they didn’t know would affect their documents.

Another concern from users not used to Ubuntu was a perceived lack of feedback when performing system actions. “Our participants needed to be reassured that their actions had an impact on the system. Constant feedback on how (or whether) the system was responding was crucial to their sense of being in control,” said Charline Poirier.


Jargon and application names they were unfamiliar with also tripped up new users. The design team says that terms such as ‘Gwibber’, ’broadcast’, ’terminal’ and ‘server’ were words they were unsure of. Some users even suggested that the language of Ubuntu suggested the desktop “was meant really for expert users rather than for them”.

Jargon was also a problem for users trying to install a new printer. Terms such as ‘Enter device URI’, ‘Host’, ‘Queue’, ‘LPD network’, ‘Samba’ and ‘SMB’ were unfamiliar to most users.

Similarly users stumbled when trying to install applications such as Flash when they were asked to choose between downloading YUM, .tar, .gy, .rpm, .deb or APT versions.


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