My Blog

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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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

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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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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Learning online

16 January, 2013    

One size fits all? Motivation in learning can be enhanced by setting clear expectations and defining a direction of travel, creating a sense of where you are going and how far into the ‘ideal’ journey that you are. But the ‘ideal learning journey’ will vary depending on who you are. Learning has a lot to do with context. An expert in a field of study has a detailed mental model, a…

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