One of the biggest things I’ve learned over the years in working on library web projects is that you can’t make assumptions that the teams, internal stakeholders, or higher-ups have a shared understanding of how the website work is done and priorities are set. Often, by the time this is figured out, a great deal of time and energy has been spent going around and around in circles. Establishing a set of shared guiding principles is a great way to make sure everyone is on the same page, or, in the worst case scenario, establish that the team isn’t actually able to agree so you can figure out where to go from there.
Guiding principles can be anything you want but I think they work best when they balance theoretical with practical. My approach to developing my guiding principles began by taking a step back to think about all the challenges, roadblocks, and repetitive conversations that naturally tend to occur in the process of designing and developing interfaces. With universal design principles and UX best practices in mind, I then developed themes and a vision for how we should be operating.
Having just started a new job in August at the University of Illinois Library, I decided to share this with the new team I’m working with to help jump start conversations and get a better understanding of how they like to work. After some great conversation and minor language adjustments to fit this new context, we were able to unanimously agree that we should formally adopt it.
I hope that others find it useful and make their own versions as well! If you do, please let me know!