Design overview

Visual design only supports content, it is not the main show. Design guidance is based on University Relations requirements and guidelines as well as University Libraries Communications branding (staff access only).

Who should use this guide

Libraries designers and developers creating web applications and websites within and beyond Web Development’s primary portfolio.

What services are within scope

All online spaces with a University Libraries presence including but not limited to: the main website, HSL website, LibGuides (open or WYSIWYG code blocks only), Drupal Lite websites where Libraries is a primary partner.

Design principles

Adapted from Mike Monteiro’s designer’s code of ethics.

A designer is first and foremost a human being.
As a human being, designers are part of the social contract. Work done by a designer impacts other people and can either help or hurt them.
Every human being on this planet is obligated to do our best to leave this planet in better shape than we found it. Designers don’t get to opt out.
A designer is responsible for the work they put into the world
The work designers bring into the world is their legacy. It will outlive them. And it will speak for them.
When designers knowingly produce work that is intended to harm, they are abdicating our responsibility. When they ignorantly produce work that harms others because they didn’t consider the full ramifications of that work, they are doubly guilty.
A designer values impact over form
Fear the consequences of the work more than love the cleverness of the ideas.
A designer owes the people who hire them not just their labor, but their counsel
The designer’ job is not just to produce that work but to evaluate the impact of that work; to relay the impact of that work to the employer. And should that impact be negative, relay that to the client along with a way, if possible, to eliminate the negative impact of the work.
A designer welcomes criticism
Encourage criticism in order to create better work in the future.
A designer strives to know their audience
Design is the intentional solution to a problem within a set of constraints. To know whether designers are properly solving those problems, meet the people who are having them.
Empathy is a pretty word for exclusion. To know how women would use something being designed, get a woman on the team that’s designing it.
A designer does not believe in edge cases
For years people who weren’t crucial to a products’ success were “edge cases”. Designers were marginalizing people, making a decision that there were people in the world whose problems weren’t worth solving.
A designer is part of a professional community
Designers are part of a professional community and the way they do their job and handle themselves professionally affects everyone in that community.
A designer welcomes a diverse and competitive field
A designer keeps their ego in check, knows when to shut up and listen, is aware of their own biases and welcomes having them checked, and fights to make room for those who have been silenced.
A designer takes time for self-reflection
Take the time for self-reflection every few months. Evaluate recent decisions. Are you staying true to who you are? Have you veered off course? Correct it.

Further reading

Overload, clutter, and confusion are not attributes of information, they are failures of design.