My Blog

Sitemaps and taxonomic thinking

3 March, 2015    

I used to love a good sitemap, all those boxes and arrows… lovely stuff. But now I’m not so sure. I think it’s good to occasionally take a step back from the bread and butter techniques and deliverables that you rely on and ask a few questions. Sometime I think we come to an old template or technique and use it unthinkingly, forgetting the thought and effort that went into…


Everyone makes IA – World IA Day 2015

22 February, 2015     /

This is a post inspired by my talk from World IA Day. On the day I had 20 minutes to fill – I did a magic trick and talked about an imaginary uncle. This post has the benefit of an edit, but recreates the central argument – everyone makes IA. Information architecture is everywhere, it’s a part of every project, every design includes it. But I think there’s often a…


Everyone makes IA – running a team away day

23 January, 2015     / / / /

Before you read this post. Choose a card. Remember it. In December 2014, just before Christmas, the UXA team at the BBC took on the challenge of convincing 120 UX designers that they all make information architecture. IA is a specialism. But it also underpins all user experiences. I wanted to give UX designers the confidence to consider IA more in their day-to-day work, and to ask IA questions when things get…


Reflective practice

21 November, 2014     / / / /

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably quite good at a few things. But if you are like me you probably sometimes have a hard time bragging about those things or even quite believing you possess them. This post is about the relationship between the things we do well (and not so well) and what we think and know about them. It’s about how self awareness and reflective practice can help you consolidate what you’re good at and get better at the other stuff.


Interact 2014 – Dan Ramsden

23 October, 2014    

Design like you’re right. Test like you’re wrong. And be careful what you throw away. Interact London is a UX design conference which brought together leading speakers with talks that explored the importance of design and the roles that User Experience and Information Architecture play in today’s digital society. I chose to talk about reflective practice and the importance of teaching in developing your own confidence, skills and experience. This…


Curations in space and time

30 June, 2014    

Information architecture is preoccupied with space. I work hard to understand the shape and nature of the information spaces I create online. I work even harder to try to imbue these spaces with meaning, making sense of the content individually and considering what will happen when these pieces are combined into a whole. I want to create the right kind of ‘wholes’. Because I learnt something when Alice fell down the rabbit hole….


What’s a UXA?

19 June, 2014    

I’m a User experience architect or UXA. UXAs are part of the BBC design team, but it’s a job title that can sometimes be difficult to decode – as I’ve learned when trying to describe what I do to family and friends. It’s fairly easy to imagine what a designer might do, but a user experience architect is a little less obvious. I wanted to share what UXAs do and…


UXAs make meaning using information architecture

Content discovery and consumption – delivering the virtuous circle

23 May, 2014     / /

The main challenges for online audiences of the future (and content publishers) isn’t finding content, it’s finding (and recommending) the right content. The homepage is dead. Or perhaps now every page is a homepage. But what does that tell us? This post is about three stages of the user experience – content discovery, consumption and continuation. In online experiences, discovery leads to consumption which sets the user off on a…


Designing navigation – the information to affordance ratio

25 April, 2014    

When you’re designing navigation you need to keep in mind that on the web, signposts don’t jump point, they also transport. The last time I had a big ‘navigation’ job on, I wrote about this. I observed that links on the web describe a destination and provide the means by which to travel there. Navigation is both information and affordance. When I wrote that post, I’d started to realise that…


UXAs at the BBC – The horizontal discipline

4 April, 2014     / / /

IAs are the connective tissue that connect and combine ‘verticals’ into experiences. Being a UXA is a difficult job and it requires a specific skill-set and mindset. But to be truly effective, the difficult challenges are the ones that we need to seek out. And we need to take responsibility.


Segovia Aqueduct

IAs are designers too – World IA Day 2014

16 February, 2014     /

On February 14th 2014 I spoke at World IA Day in Bristol. I talked about how an IA-mindset that can be shared across UX teams and organisations to seed IA-thinking throughout products and services. Rather than focus on the practice and process of IA, I wanted to talk about how IA theory can have an impact across experience design. Here is what I planned to say. I work for the…


Spaces vs. Places – structures in information architecture

15 January, 2014    

Since I joined the BBC’s knowledge and learning team I’ve been exploring the concept of “real-world information architecture”. It’s a term I inherited, and I’ve never been entirely satisfied that there’s a shared definition of what it means. I’ve struggled to create a definition, but I think over the years I’ve been thinking about it, it’s informed the IA philosophy that has emerged and shaped our products and services. This…


Design sprints and service design

7 January, 2014     / /

Previously I’ve written about design sprints and the lessons I learned from using them over two projects. This post is about the third time I’ve used design sprints, a five-day process of rapid idea generation and testing. For this project we combined the design sprints and service design tools to arrive at something that I think is pretty powerful. Human-centred product development One of the trends I’m tipping for 2014…


Structural information architecture

6 January, 2014     / /

Sometimes I use the terms internet the World Wide Web interchangeably. Both names focus on interconnection – strands woven together. But the majority of structural information architecture doesn’t stay true to the spirit of these metaphors. We’ve broken the promise of the web by building trees (and odd trees at that), not webs. How could we be more ambitious?