Consistency, reliability and comprehensiveness ensure that the project is under control and that all members of the project team are “on the same page”.
The Design Resource Center (DRC) Library system is the bottom line for all projects:
- Offers a common, easy-to-use and manageable design resource reference system
- Authorizes appropriate access (read, edit, create/delete)
- Acts as central clearing house for documentation and interface design standards
I first implemented the Design Resource Center for my employer in 1996 on a Lotus Notes platform. It’s still a fairly useful model for managing and sharing design collateral.View this case study in my portfolio: Instinet.
I also implemented the Design Resource Center for interactive development groups at Dow Jones Markets, Immersant, Morgan Stanley and Bunge Global Markets.
Organizes reference materials that are available to all teams and all projects.
Project Team Directory
maintains a list of enterprise developers, resource people & managers, their phone extension, their skill set, the projects in which they are involved.
Project Documentation Library
contains all project documentation that has been released for general reference.
Component Code Module Library
reusable code modules and appropriate documentation (may be accessed through a source control system). These generic functional modules might handle Logon, List Management, Layout Management, Library/Catalog Maintenance, etc.
Media Library Database
of reusable graphics, logos, icons, animations, video, photo images
User Interface Design Guidelines
describes user interface guidelines (colors, styles, fonts, terminology, etc.) and design conventions (layout, spacing, location of elements, use of components)
provides organizational structure and presentational stylesheet for any documents that are produced by the enterprise
defines of consistent terminology & acronyms; cross-referenced
maintains the library of print-based design documents (reference books, magazines, etc.)
Create unique workspace area on DRC Library, which contains basic reference information for each individual project. Maintained by the Project Manager. The team can easily share information about the project.
Project Contact List
Address book of immediate project members and other relevant people (marketing, clients, resource personnel, etc.), with phone, role definition, etc. for each.Project Timeline, Task List and MilestonesMaintained by Project Manager.
Project Documentation Library
Repository of relevant documents: Business Case, Business Requirements (as defined by use case), Design Specifications (screen shots, user interface, menus, etc), User Manual, Operations Manual, Glossary, Support Materials (graphics, flow charts, tables, reference materials). The Project documentation Library may be coupled to the source control system for the code development environment.
Project members and managers have appropriate access to documents during design phase. Upon project completion, project documents are released to the (public) Project Documentation Library for general reference.
Requirements Gathering & Ongoing Documentation
At the inception of a project the Interaction Architect works with Project Manager, Business Analyst and other appropriate actors to identify and document the “use cases” which are used to describe the functional features of the project. The documentation process begins with these findings.
The Interactive Architect integrates and complements documents as the project progresses, providing contributors with templates and ensuring that the project team conforms to process discipline.
The UxP Task List is a list of standard document deliverables that should be applicable to any project:
Project Team Roles Who’s Who on the Project and what they do
Business Requirements Document Template w/ Specific Guidelines
Best Practices Reference Guide: Usability standards; Patterns of behavior
Design Specifications Maps the site and its functionality (screenshots & workflow); guidelines for development
Documentation Guidelines Step-by-step guidance for capturing info
Component Module Construction
Design Managers use the documentation and the “use case” requirements gathering technique methods for identifying viable, re-usable program code objects. The DRC champion works with Site Developers and the Technical Architect to extract modules from existing code in re-usable form.
Programming Modules may simply be internal procedures or they may include user interface screen packages (For example: Logon, List Management, Layout Management, Library/Catalog Maintenance, etc).
Programming modules are submitted for documentation and release in the Programming Module Library section of the DRC Library.
Reusable Component Program Modules
The “use case” requirements identify viable programming objects.
Site Developers and the Technical Architect extract modules from existing code in re-usable form.
Programming Modules may simply be internal procedures or they may include user interface screen packages.
Programming modules are submitted for documentation and release in the Program Module Library section of the DRC Library.
These techniques are used- preferably in the early stages of a project – both to identify project requirements and to develop the user interface. The DRC champion may use high-end authoring tools or pencil & paper storyboarding to visualize the software interface.
- High-level Sitemap
Stylesheets, branding, ease of use, look and feel issues are mediated through the DRC. These serve as a consistent UI “template” throughout the design process and across projects.
- CSS StyleGuide
- Best Practices
- Stylesheet Themes
As a general rule, the user interface for the project software should be subjected to usability testing and feedback early in the project development process. This cycle should be reiterative throughout the project life and may include assessment by dedicated human factors professionals (Usability Analysts). The DRC may need to arrange the Usability Testing Lab service with an external agency or we may develop it as an in-house capability.
- Design Workshop
- User Assistance
Media includes: icons, illustrative graphics, flow charts & diagrams, photographic images, company logos, 3-D imagery, charts & graphs and Web materials. Media production work may require the hiring of production professionals on an “as needed” basis.
The DRC establishes and maintains a Media Production Studio, which provides media production services to all BIS projects.
The DRC oversees a formalized method for “signing off” on any media to be released as a part of a BIS project.
The DRC maintains a Media Library (in the DRC Library) for developer use.
- Branding / Icons
If we are to maintain a robust ongoing relationship with our clients, then the project may require ongoing support.
The DRC should be designing Project documentation with an eye towards implementing it as online help that is embedded within the finished product. The largest files in a professionally produced software product are in fact the Help files. This is a major development mandate and should be included in the project timeline and budget.
In certain instances a targeted task (such as installation) may be developed as a “wizard”, which has certain properties of a training module.
Education and Training
The documentation materials also provide the basis for development of Computer Based Training software, which may be oriented towards: end users, applications managers and support personnel (s.a. Marketing, Installation)
These training materials may be integrated with Online Help as “how to” tutorials or they may be developed as full-blown interactive training courses. Training materials naturally take advantage of media support (video, audio, graphics, animation).
The DRC is a terrific resource for providing high-end documentation, media and training materials for Marketing and Sales applications.
View the case study in my portfolio: Instinet
View a related proposal: Enterprise Design Center
Roots and Implications
As a part of the enterprise-wide standards mandate at Instinet, I had also provided the UI/UX perspective to the Customer Database Reconciliation project. Instinet’s customer information was employed by multiple applications, both internal and external. At that early point in the process, the data was maintained separately, reundantly, and often incompatably and incorrectly by each of the software applications.
Our challenge was to collect, clarify and define a common customer database that could be shared by all: Data Warehousing.
This was the sort of dynamic which emphasized the need for a Design Resource Center.
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