Design & Discovery

The Design & Discovery department of the Library Information Technology (LIT) division provides expertise in program and project management, user experience research and design, digital accessibility, and front-end development. Our projects and initiatives involve staff from across LIT, the Library, the University of Michigan campus, and beyond. Contact the Design & Discovery team at design-discovery@umich.edu.

What We Do

Program and Project Management

We support an intentional strategic collection of library services, functions, or activities that span multiple departments and extended periods of time. We do:

  • Provide long-term planning, prioritization of strategic and tactical initiatives
  • Coordinate among LIT projects and resource stewardship initiatives, such as the Front Door project intake process
  • Design user-centered IT service models and cross-division workflows
  • Promote the adoption of technology policies and standards
  • Provide analytics-driven guidance for public discovery, access, and content systems
  • Lead research efforts in the use of internal library data

User Experience Research and Design

  • Promote user-centered design
  • Provide leadership and expertise in UX strategy
  • Assess and improve user workflows across the web presence
  • Provide analysis of UX research and web analytics to improve services

  • Conduct quantitative and qualitative user research

  • Offer expertise information architecture and content strategy

Digital Accessibility Expertise

  • Provide accessibility expertise to designers, developers, stakeholders
  • Develop team expertise on digital accessibility standards (WCAG, 508, ATAG, ARIA, EPUB) and accessible design best practices
  • Provide consistent, understandable and actionable web accessibility evaluations for library staff as needed
  • Provide consultations for LIT staff and create, maintain, and contribute to resources that promote a culture of incorporating accessibility into all development
  • Work closely with the Library Accessibility Specialist and the campus Council for Disability Concerns

Front-End Development

We create applications and employ mastery in front-end programming, user interface architecture, content management systems, and supporting web applications across our web presence. Our work powers infrastructure and services including:

  • Style guides, design systems, and supporting frameworks for use across IT applications
  • Content management systems like Drupal, Omeka, WordPress
  • The library website, library staff intranet, and many other library applications
  • Library Search, Course Reserves, MGet It, Favorites

Who We Are

  • Rachel Vacek, Head of Design & Discovery
  • Ken Varnum, Senior Program Manager for Discovery, Delivery, and Library Analytics
  • Heidi Burkhardt, Web Project Manager and Content Strategist
  • Ben Howell, User Experience and Accessibility Specialist
  • Robyn Ness, Senior User Experience Specialist (starts July 30th)
  • User Interface Designer (vacant, posting coming soon)
  • Albert Bertram, Web Applications Team Leader
  • Bridget Burke, Front-End Developer and Accessibility Specialist
  • Jonathan Earley, Front-End Developer and Accessibility Specialist
  • Nancy Moussa, Web Developer
  • Eliot Scott, Drupal Developer
  • Senior Front-End Developer (vacant, in middle of search process)
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Last modified: 07/10/2018