My Blog

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…

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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…

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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…

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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?

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Design sprints – what I’ve learned at the BBC

18 December, 2013    

As a user experience architect at the BBC I get involved in lots of different types of design projects. This year our team has been experimenting with a way of developing ideas using a method called ‘design sprints’. Inspired by Google Ventures (and described here), we’ve been exploring how we can use this approach to develop ideas, test them, fail fast and learn lots. I’m going to share what I’ve…

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Lots of ideas

Trends for 2014 – Storytelling in UX design

18 December, 2013     / /

After reviewing submissions for IA Summit 2014 it occurred to me that this might be a good opportunity to think about trends for the coming year. This is the final trend, and probably not so much a trend as the way I like to think about the world generally, but it helps out at work too. I’ve already written about search and being ambitious, everyone and everything. Today is about storytelling…

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Motivation and need in experience design

21 October, 2013     / / /

The shape of experiences are defined by the time and spaces they occupy, and even Doctor Who knows that moving through time and space requires energy. But real people don’t have two hearts and a TARDIS to push them forward through the space and time of the experiences we design. Real people are either pushed or pulled through experiences by other forces. Information architecture needs to get to grips with…

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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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Hick’s Law – a matter of choice

19 September, 2013     /

Bill Hicks has obtained legendary status in the world of stand up comedy. At least part of this is probably down to the fact that he died young. There are recordings of Hicks, but relatively few. We don’t have much on which to build a picture of who he was, but what we have is good. This ‘Hicks Law’ reveals an important truth – the value of quality over quantity….

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Choice, scarcity and motivation in information architecture

18 September, 2013     / /

I love choices. But like most things, they suffer from the law of diminishing returns, or more accurately the laws of ‘diminishing marginal utility.’ The web of today (and tomorrow) is a web of choice. Almost limitless storage and the ease of publication means that there is more and more content out there to choose from. Functionally rich interfaces also run the risk of splitting the attention of the user…

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Too many choices can be bewildering.

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