To provide recommendations on the design and engineering of the v1 Athens product.
Athens is the first open-source product to embrace UX and end-user design. Successful open-source software has historically been for developers or enterprises. The open-source end-user products that do exist are Linux apps like OfficeLibre and GIMP, where UX has not been a driving factor.
Open-Source Product Management, which aligns design, engineering, and the self-sustainability of a project, is a new concept. Decisions (and mistakes) will need to be made to learn what works.
That said, the beginning of most projects look the same, regardless if they are open-source or close-source, regardless if it's engineering or design.
First, the infrastructure, architecture, and scaffolding that everything rests on needs to be established. This is typically done by principals and architects with decades of experience.
For design, the infrastructure is composed of the design system, principles, and processes.
For engineering, the infrastructure is composed of the core frameworks, libraries, and components. The core components generally inform the code organization.
Once the infrastructure is set up, it will be vastly easier for any engineers and designers to contribute.
Until the infrastructure is set up, contributing will be a challenge for both juniors and seniors alike (and this code might get refactored anyway).
Going forward, we hope contributions can be made in a more bottom-up and distributed way. But given the amount of uncertainty and unmapped complexity in the project, these are my recommendations for how to proceed.