Processes for User-Centered Design and Development: The Omeka Curator Dashboard Project

Processes for User-Centered Design and Development: The Omeka Curator Dashboard Project

Susan Chesley Perry (University of California – Santa Cruz, USA) and Jessica Waggoner (University of California – Santa Cruz, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2676-6.ch002
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The authors discuss user-centered design and agile project management using the development of the Omeka Curator Dashboard as a case study. The University of California, Santa Cruz University Library developed a suite of 15 plugins for the Omeka open source content management system. This chapter describes the library's use of agile principles and methods for the management of this project, detailing the creation of user stories and acceptance criteria. This chapter also outlines the usability testing conducted by the library in the form of online surveys and moderated field tests. The authors conclude that user-focused, inclusive, and iterative development are key components to the success of the software development process.
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Libraries and archives are increasingly focusing their staff expertise on curating and disseminating the digitized primary source materials in their archival collections. As part of this effort, archivists and curators see an increased need to engage and connect researchers directly to those materials (Theimer, 2010). Crowdsourcing transcriptions and other descriptive information is one way to engage users, but as Trevor Owens (2012) of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) stated in his blog post, crowdsourcing transcription or tagging should not be considered the ultimate end goal. Instead the goal of participatory archives projects should be to improve user engagement and understanding of the institution and its collections. The 2015 NMC Horizon Report: Museum Edition states that two short-term trends for museums and archives include the expansion of the concept of patrons to include both in-person and virtual visitors and the increasing focus on participatory experiences on-site and online (p. 16). The report further explains one of the significant challenges facing museums is the need to improve digital literacy of museum professionals (p. 24). The authors of this chapter assert that libraries and archives face that same challenge. The director of the Scholars’ Lab at the University of Virginia Library, Bethany Nowviskie calls on libraries with research and development teams to engage in “creative, iterative, unfettered, informal, (even gonzo?) development of digital scholarly interfaces and content” (p. 55). Digital humanist Cris Alen Sula describes a model where libraries can truly engage digital humanities scholars and support their projects by promoting skills and leveraging the user-centered service paradigm accepted by most libraries (p. 24). Faced with the challenge of developing systems to support digital humanists and to engage users with digital content while keeping that development creative and iterative, the UC Santa Cruz University Library chose the agile development approach to managing software projects. Agile methodologies assert that the user is always the final authority on product quality, and quick iterations of developed functions allow for frequent and prompt feedback from those users (Beyer, Holtzblatt, & Baker, 2004, p. 56). Following is an explanation of the functions the UC Santa Cruz team developed in order to facilitate engaged user participation with the digital archive and a step-by-step approach to developing those functions for the Omeka open source content management system.

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