My Blog

What’s a user experience architect at the BBC do?

1 October, 2013     /

What is information architecture? In my experience it’s a question that information architects aren’t too confident answering. It’s ironic that for a professional discipline so focused on classification we sometimes have a hard time describing what it is we do. I make information architecture. I’m a user experience architect at the BBC. But how can you judge whether an IA or UXA, at the BBC or anywhere else, is doing their…

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Using stories in user experience architecture

18 September, 2013    

There are lots of things to focus on when you’re designing something. I think there are three layers of abstraction to most digital design challenges. The simplest is the interface – deciding what things look like. Interaction design turns 2d designs into something with both form and function. But there is another layer – the layer of experience. This is where the serious work of design happens. User experience architecture…

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Why there’s no such thing as metadata

10 September, 2013     / /

I like Jean-Francois Lyotard – mainly because of his name, I think. And I tend to think of him every time I hear people talking about metadata. Lyotard had a problem with meta-narrative – grand narratives that pull us all together and make sense of the world. Lyotard said this class of thing, stories about stories didn’t really exist anymore. There shouldn’t be grand narratives that we treat as special…

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Jean-Francois_Lyotard

The shape of things to come – redundancy in information architecture

28 August, 2013     /

Lots of products are the result of compromise. There’s a Venn diagram I trot out that describes how I work to create experiences that combine business priorities with user needs. User experiences sit in the sweet spot where these two sets of requirements are most closely aligned. Information architecture creates systems that combine these two perspectives, it builds a space in which consensus can thrive because everyone sharing the space…

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Things change requiring redundancy in information architecture.

Information architecture principles

27 August, 2013     /

Information architecture attempts to create spaces from ideas. We take mental models and try to build digital structures that formalise these thoughts. Sometimes it seems like we’re creating spaces which force users to adopt a specific perspective. From these fixed perspectives they can move around our sites and products. But really, we only ever provide half the picture. The structures that we design are a means to an end –…

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Mystic Meg - the future-fortelling lady

Information architecture and omnipresence

2 August, 2013     / / /

Information architecture often creates structured, domain-centric spaces. Putting a page (especially an aggregation) at the end of a link in a menu creates a ‘space’ and implies this is where the content lives. I know that sometimes, structure is good. Structure helps users. But what about when things live in multiple places, or serve multiple user needs? Is there a way to do information architecture and experience design that is less about…

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Malcesine and information architecture

Trajectories at the BBC – after two days*

12 July, 2013     / / /

Steve Benford describes Trajectories as offering a new way of thinking about the design of extended user experiences. I think the more ways we have to think about the design of experiences the better. Structured methods for interrogating the result of our designs forces us to move our focus from the design of objects to the design of experiences. I think this is the real potential in trajectories. From interface…

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Walls and ladders – branded online experiences and navigation

3 July, 2013     / / /

Navigation is both a noun and a verb. It’s the furniture that people use as they move through online experiences, and the experience – the journey. This post is about how the furniture can affect the experience to create branded online experiences and navigation.

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My experience design manifesto

17 June, 2013    

My experience design manifesto is based on the idea of experiences being floopy, gloopy things suspended in the flowing stream of our lives. Picture life as a river, and imagine cleaning a paintbrush in it (which isn’t very environmentally friendly and the imaginary version of yourself should feel ashamed of being bullied into it by a blog post). The speed of the water pulls the colour from the brush and…

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Linked data – a beginners guide

11 June, 2013     / /

“Linked data is the superstructure over which content is stretched” I said this once, but I didn’t really elaborate on this definition. I moved quickly onto the benefits of Linked data. In this post I’m going to try to go right back the basics and describe exactly what linked data is. So what is linked data? I like to think of the internet as being made up of two separate…

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User experience architect or Information architect?

24 May, 2013     / / /

Something about me changed recently. My job title changed and I went from being an Information architect (IA) to being a User Experience architect (UXA). But what’s in a name? I think words matter. Good words become invisible, when the symbol so closely resembles the reality it stands for that translation becomes unconscious and things just make sense. But choose the wrong word and it sticks out like a sore…

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Heuristics isn’t a dirty word

23 May, 2013     / /

Jargon annoys me. Especially when someone tries to “namify” a process in a way that seeks to own and obscure the method rather than reveal it. I’d love to find it funny and be flippant that professional practise gets obscured by jargon. But too often giving a name to a process implies that the thing is an artefact, a finished product, rather than a living process. I remember being on…

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What did linked data ever do for us anyway?

20 May, 2013    

I’ve recently written about navigation, user journeys and content, and I haven’t really mentioned linked data all that much. That’s a shame. Because linked data is the super-structure over which content is stretched and experiences flow. Linked data can power the online journeys of the future. It can switch our taxonomic thinking into ontological thinking. And it can turn the telescoping corridors of the web into grand cathedrals. Here’s how……

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What’s navigation anyway?

16 May, 2013     /

Navigation is a funny old thing. Maybe it’s because it’s both a noun and a verb. Navigation is the action we take as we traverse the web. It’s also the furniture that enables us to make those journeys. I’m currently interested in the different types of navigation (noun). Navigation, in the form of menus, buttons, interfaces and other things makes the web work. Lots of the time these are the…

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