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Lifecycle of a Digital Project

Planning the Project

Digital projects tell stories, make arguments, answer questions, or develop theories.​  Thinking through the scope, purpose and sources included any project, and then documenting those decisions will help communicate the plan to team members, administrators, potential donors, funders and your audience.  Following are some questions to ask at the beginning of a project to help define that scope and purpose.

Purpose Statement

  • What is your research question?  What's the story you're trying to tell?
  • What is the purpose of the exhibit or project? Examples include a class assignment, research project, exhibit?
  • How long will it be available on the web? What will you do with it after you're finished?
  • Who is your audience?
  • How will you answer the research question or tell the story? Examples include building digital exhibits, text mining, plotting texts and images on a map, tracking changes or developments over time using a timeline, and interactive games.


  • Do you have rights to use materials from the web or to publish digitized items?
  • Are the items covered by copyright or are they in the public domain?
  • Does your use of the items falls within Fair Use?
  • Do you have enough information to cite and attribute your sources?

Answers have implications for the inventory, digitization, and access phases of the project.

The Lifecycle of a Digital Project

Workshop materials

  • Project Planning Checklist
  • Hands-On Exercise
  • Presentation (PDF)


Presented during the:

Digital Exhibit Building Symposium
September 14, 2016
McHenry Library, UC Santa Cruz

Content Selection

  • What primary and secondary sources will be displayed in the exhibit or project and how will you obtain them?
  • Is the material coming from the web?
  • Are you creating your own material for display?  
  • Are you digitizing previously published items?

Answers have implications for the inventory, digitization, access, and preservation phases of the project.

Digital Projects Consultation