User-centered open source projects

Accepted Session
Short Form
Scheduled: Wednesday, June 22, 2016 from 4:45 – 5:30pm in B304


Open-source projects often struggle with finding contributors and getting off of the ground. Lessons learned all point to putting the user first.


Open-source projects often struggle with finding contributors and getting off of the ground. Communities, such as Github and PyPi, are host to redundant projects and libraries. In the development space, how do you distinguish your project from others, get people excited to contribute to it, and ultimately create a successful open source project? The answer is to apply user-centered design techniques to the development of your project. User-centered design is usually applied to web applications and products on the front-end of a website, but these techniques can be applied to open source libraries. In user-centered open source projects, your users are those who type `pip install $your_library`.

In this talk, Jackie will illustrate some user-centered techniques that have been used on her own project — Mesa (, along with other successful open source projects. This talk will include a survey of interviews with a focus on successful techniques, along with additional user-centered design techniques that could be leveraged to inspire increased community engagement into your project.


user-centered design, users

Speaking experience

Jackie speaks at multiple conferences per year. Most recently, keynote for DjangoCon 2015, Scipy 2015, & Pycon 2015.


  • Dcfemtech awards 2016 richkesslerphotography (24 of 157)


    Jackie is a Technical Fellow at Capital One. She is also one of the authors of Mesa, a Python-based agent based modeling library. She loves data, teaching, and coding. She is currently working on her Ph.D in Computational Social Science at George Mason University. She has worked in finance, government, and journalism, with a general focus on public service. She is a co-founder of 18F, was a Presidential Innovation Fellow, and has worked at The Washington Post. She is the co-author of the O’Reilly book, Data Wrangling with Python, and she leads Women Data Scientists DC and PyLadies DC. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband and three dogs.


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