Improving Debian's marketing
After a discussion with just now, I have signed up to
debian-publicity, and will continue these discussion there.
My concern about that list is that it seems very low traffic, so I
wanted to gather some opinions on my initial ideas here (I'll also
post this there). This is fairly freeform thinking, but born out of a
belief that Debian does not have the news profile it should.
a) Debian did have a press archive at
http://www.debian.org/News/press/. This has not been updated since
2005. The problem with this is that the project does not have a
central overview of how it is viewed in the media, and thus it is
difficult to come up with a sane media strategy at first. A simple
selection of major RSS feeds with the appropriate word filters will
produce a rough list, and it can then be filtered down to a
representative sample. I'm happy to handle this if people think this
is useful. One thing to note is that this will also include negative
press by default - normally I'd suggest a private summary (maybe
through debian-publicity) that included these, and a public press
showcase with only the positive pieces. Where do other people stand
b) The Debian website. At the moment, it seems somewhat developer
focused. Most people who randomly come upon the site (tested on my
non-technical partner, for example) will likely find this quite
unwelcoming compared to many other consumer-aimed websites. Looking
at mozilla.com, we can see that the front page is dominated by
clipart, with gradients to soften the coloured elements and only a few
links to choose from, with the download like heavily signposted with a
green highlight to make my eye settle on it. When I go to debian.org,
I count 108(!) links on the front page in a largely undifferentiated
mass, meaning that my time to process what I need goes way up. In my
opinion, the front page needs streamlining down to a few main choices.
What does the user want to do when they come to debian.org?
Well, the front page is almost always visited by the first time or
casual website user, as regular users bookmark at the exact page they
want, not the website root. From this, we can guess that the user
* To download Debian, probably by getting an ISO unless jigdo is made
*really* simple for them.
* To see about the features that Debian offers.
* To look for sources of help from the Debian community.
These things have to be immediately available to them. A case study
of where I think the current website is perhaps more suitable for
technical users is the Download section on the side at the moment.
This currently has 5 links, with one to the main "Getting Debian"
page, and 4 links to ways to do so (with no explanation as to what
these are). This could all be reduced to one "Get Debian" link on the
main page, perhaps with highlighting of some kind.
There is also room to generally sugar it up for people - an RSS feed
for debian-announce would be infinitely superior for people to sign up
to compared with the three-step email list, and thus is likely to
actually be used by journalists et al.
I think the site would not be too difficult to make more attractive -
look at what slashdot have done with only CSS. Is there a web
design/branding team to discuss this with? (and if not, maybe there
should be one).
c) Debian Weekly News: In my opinion, Debian need to *generate* news
for people to write about. It is fine to have announcements for major
releases, but starting to have items that originate with the project
gives journalists something to work from. I think that a few example
conversions to Debian would be great to spark things off, and maybe an
indepth look at how Extremadura (for those that don't know, they run a
Debian derivative in schools there) or Bhutan (an interesting,
newsworthy place, and one that media that does not normally do tech
would be interested in - no tech allowed in the country to their own
Debian-based distro...that's an interesting story just from the
political angle) is working out. This can be
combined with developer interviews, and maybe the now defunct Deb a
Day could be reborn as Deb of the Week, complete with a snazzy
screenshot. The key here is to look on DWN as something not only for
the community, but something to communicate a message about that
community to people currently outside of it such as journalists and
the merely idly interested. Debian Weekly News should aim to excite
people about Debian, and if we can make it something that is worthy of
it, should have stories replace the purely announcement based news on
the front page, I think.
d) Another idea is getting people on to some media expert lists so
they are called upon when talking heads are needed for software
patents issues etc. This would support the freedom-related goals of
Debian, and also provide exposure for it.
e) Infastructure. A dedicated section of the wiki for
marketing/branding ideas, and maybe a marketing team made up of both
technical and non-technical guys to generate ideas.
Opinions? I'd really welcome some feedback on this.
"To any truly impartial person, it would be obvious that I am right."