After establishing design principles based on good assessment data, I typically turn to some quick pen-and-paper sketching to wrap my mind around design problems and areas of potential confusion. These sketches are quick, low-fidelity, and really only meant to inform small-group conversations with those closest to the project. Depending on the task at hand, I will sketch full pages, discrete interactions (such as a specific form element), or a narrative storyboard to visualize a potential user path.
After Erin has performed initial assessment activities, my first design task isn’t to jump right into HTML & CSS or select a color palette or even sketch with pen & paper. My starting point is instead the creation of short, pithy, abstract Design Principles that summarize key lessons learned from our pre-design assessment and will serve as a framework for the entire design phase.
Setting the Stage
For many of us, the availability of discovery services such as Primo, Summon, and EBSCOhost, has caused a major rethinking of the library catalog. After all, who out there isn’t excited about finally putting an end to one of our most frequently asked questions: “Why can’t I find articles in the catalog?”.
For me integrating articles had to be more than simply redefining the catalog itself. Today’s discovery services search across collections, but are not comprehensive resources and should be strategically placed next to more in-depth, subject-specific tools. Therefore, they are most effective when presented as one piece in a suite of services. For our users to navigate this kind of suite effectively, they needed a new research-oriented web page consolidating our online offerings and providing point of need instruction indicating how and when to use them.
As Erin mentioned in her last post, I serve as the U.Va. Library’s User Experience Web Developer. But what exactly is a UX developer and how is the role different from a web designer, front-end developer, or generalist programmer?
Perhaps foremost, a User Experience Developer allows assessment to lead design. When we set out to create a new tool or feature, we don’t start with sketches or Photoshop documents or the like, but with surveys, focus groups, and user testing.