USE Design Principles

Version 1, Published 18th October 2021


Users come in multiple forms when it comes to digital applications. Creating an application that is both people (developers, administrators, and patrons) and machine (servers, integrated applications, AI, etc.) readable is key to a mature user-centered design.

  • Accessible & Universal

  • Engaging & Intuitive

  • Inclusive & Equitable

Socially Responsible & Sustainable

Open-source applications rely upon community contributions/feedback to be helpful. Part of creating successful, sustainable web applications is catering to the needs of a broad, diverse user base. Adherence to best practices and standards helps achieve this goal, alongside prioritizing transparent documentation and a realistic understanding of what an application should, and is able to, achieve with given resources.

  • Prioritizes Standards & Best Practices

  • Clearly & Fully Documented

  • Realistic Resourcing

  • Transparent & Ethical


Applications should be engineered in a method that minimizes friction for all users, including developers and administrators. These digital products should be designed in a clear and consistent method, and aim to be flexible for applications and schemas it may interoperate with.

  • Minimal in Design & Latency

  • Consistent & Predictable

  • Modular & Interoperable


How well do you USE Design Principles? Measure it.

  • Use the below spreadsheet to:

    • Reflect and spark discussion with your team and/or users and patrons

    • Identify and prioritize areas for improvement and to inform your development roadmap (Beta version, view only or download to use)

Not sure what Successful application of USE Design Principles looks like for Samvera Apps?

  • Case Studies Forthcoming…



Below are some resources and templates that already exist outside of Samvera that can support you with adopting the USE Design Principles. Please let us know of any other resources you think would be helpful to list.

Contributor Acknowledgements:

Thank you to the following people, groups and companies that contributed to crafting the USE Design Principles.

  • UX Interest Group

    • @Adam J. Arling

    • @Carla Arton

    • @Lea Ann Bradford

    • @Heather Greer Klein

    • @christina chortaria

    • Norm Orstad

    • Dananji Withana

    • April Rieger

    • @Mat Jordan

  • @Jon Cameron and the Avalon Development Group

  • @Juliet Hardesty and the Hyrax Interest Group

  • @Kevin Kochanski and the Hyku Interest Group

  • Notch8

  • These principles were inspired by the University of Virginia Library Design Principles