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Below is the original drafting work carried out and coordinated by the UX Interest Group in 2021.

The final USE Design Principles are located here, USE Design Principles


Samvera community packages run the gamut from Ruby gems, to generators, to Rails and Elixir applications, Node modules, JavaScript UI components and more. Thinking about a meaningful purpose the UX Interest Group could serve the community in 2021, the following questions have surfaced.

  • What does such a wide variety of Samvera code have in common, besides serving the digital repository needs of the Library/cultural heritage community?

  • What does it mean to be a “Samvera application”?

  • What if general criteria existed which Samverians (developers, product owners, managers, designers), could reference when designing and developing an app or module?


The UX Interest Group proposes crafting a set of Design Principles, which reflect the values and goals of the Samvera Community. In addition, perhaps these Design Principles could:


  • Backend Developers (current & future)

  • Front End Developers (current & future)

  • Administrative Users

  • End Users / Patrons (students, faculty, research, general public, etc.)

Samvera Design Principles (working draft)

Samvera is a vibrant and welcoming community of information and technology professionals who share challenges, build expertise, and create sustainable, best-in-class solutions, making the world’s digital collections accessible now and into the future.

What are the Principles?

Human-Centered. Efficient. Unified. Sustainable. Ethical.


Inclusive & Equitable

Accessible & Universal

Engaging & Unambiguous

  • How Welcoming/Approachable is the App?

  • Where/How does the app (unintentionally) leave any users out (culturally, language, eye-sight conditions, etc)?

  • How obvious is it How to request help or Report a problem?

  • How does the design translate well to multiple communities and account for cultural/institutional differences? Neurodiverse communities?

  • How does the user experience stay consistent across different devices?

  • How does the app empower the user to successfully complete their journey?

  • How familiar does the user interface feel?

  • How cluttered does the application feel?

  • How does the app stay responsive across viewport sizes?

  • How easy is it to find and manipulate any accessibility features?

  • How does the app use simple language (Ie. Explains all accronyms)?

  • How easy is it to translate to other languages for different users?

  • How easy is it to navigate without a mouse? with a touch screen?

  • Are used icons universally recognized for desired function?

  • What technical proficiency level does the app assume/require of its users?

For Developers:

  • Does the app follow WCAG requirements? At what level?

  • How does the app adapt to various devices?

  • How does the app actively engage/empower users?

  • How easy is it to switch from using another application to this application?

  • Where does the user feel friction when trying to complete a task?

  • How important and easy is it to share?

  • How does the user know this is the correct application to use for their need?

  • How does the application user interface promote focus and minimize distraction from the task?


Modular while functioning as a whole

Minimal (in design & latency)

Intuitive & Predictable

Configurability Balanced with Efficiency

  • How does the app take advantage of DRY principles (what is DRY)?

  • How is it logically separated?

  • Does the UI display more than is needed?

  • Can the action be carried out with fewer lines of code?

  • How easy is it to understand and follow with minimal to no training needed?

  • How easy is it for users to avoid and correct errors?

  • How does the app use consistent breadcrumbs & buttons placement?

  • How does the app use consistent color and icons?

  • Does the application create endless configurability/flexibility to the detriment of the workflow? Ie. Endless top folder creation instead of applying information architecture/minimum rules for information organization/categorization. Ie. Endless choice typically doesn’t lead to efficiency


Standards & Best-Practices

Consistent behavior patterns & functionality

Clearly documented (for designers and users)

  • Does the app use popular open-source libraries/packages?

  • How would the application continue to meet standards & best-practices if core developers left?

  • Does the app feel very different on any screens?

  • Where would a user find the app’s documentation?

  • Does the documentation branding and structure stay consistent throughout for the application and across Samvera or organization’s applications?

  • Where would a developer find the. app’s documentation?


Mindful of Trends

Maintenance Demands Match Resourcing Realities

Forward Thinking

  • Is the app built upon technologies less than 2 years old?

  • How would the application continue to be maintained if core developers left?

  • Who has access to the source code?

  • Are bug issues outweighing new feature issues?

  • Are there any trends in design you are considering incorporating reliant on Proprietary systems?



Mindful of Unintended Favouritism

Digital Safety & Wellbeing

  • Is the app’s codebase open source (for ease of Adoption & Integration)

  • Is the app Community driven/managed

  • Does the app have a visible public policy around User Data Collection and Analysis?

  • Does the app rely heavily on 3rd party modules (FB/Google/etc)?

  • Does the app assume the user has access to specific 3rd party modules?

  • Does the app prioritize security in code?

  • What risks are there of the app being used as an entry point for ransomware and other cybersecurity threats?

  • How does the application interface with other applications that may hold or process personal/high security/restricted data and what risks, if any, are introduced through that integration?

  • What does the user need to know about how the application acquires, uses, and stores personal/high security data before they use the application?


Contribution Acknowledgements for the Samvera Design Principles: