My Blog

Pace layers, effort/impact and futures cones — three diagrams to help you plan as a UX architect

2 June, 2017    

How do you think about and plan your portfolio of projects when you’re part of an internal design team? It’s sometimes hard to spot achievements in my job. It can also be tricky to plan where I can have most impact. Much of the work of an IA is relatively invisible. IAs spend their time exploring edge-cases, identifying and adjusting variables, mapping dependencies. It’s rarely sexy. It’s rarer still that…

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Reflective practice in information architecture, IA Summit 2017

28 March, 2017    

Photo credit Peter Morville Using the model At IA Summit in 2017 I shared a model that I’ve been using to consciously focus my attention on the challenges I face and the value I bring to teams and projects. The model is in the shape of a fish — a rough approximation of the divergent and convergent process I go through on most projects. I use the fish as the basis for reflective practice…

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Not necessarily navigation

21 February, 2017    

If you want to understand something, look towards the boundaries* The edges of things are interesting. IAs should be comfortable identifying that distinct boundary that marks the end of one thing and the beginning of another. We know the power of thinking about the ‘thingness’ that makes a thing the thing that it is. But we also know the power of the seams and loose joins we can use to…

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Foggy finding – navigation with persistence

21 February, 2017    

You can’t always get what you want… Information is a delicate, immaterial thing. Information-rich environments present challenges – to designers and actors navigating them. Environments intersect and overlap. Actors have different needs at different times. Information changes. Content and the spaces that contain it alter and evolve. The means to access information vary. Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things….

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Delightful discovery – navigating the unknown

8 February, 2017    

The world is full of wonders yet to be discovered. Good navigation often results in discovery – ask John Mandeville. Sometimes we want to encourage and support an explorer mindset in our audience. We create new content, features and services. Information architects must be able to empower actors to find them. My second category focuses on discovery. Delightful Discovery sees actors getting knowledge, learning, gaining sight or finding out about…

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A model for navigation and information-seeking

27 January, 2017    

Navigation is both a noun and a verb. Navigation describes the activity and behaviour of moving with intent. And, at least on the web, it’s the word we most often reach for to describe the tools that enable this movement. As an information architect I want people to be able to move through and across the structures I design. I care about navigation – both the behaviour and the bits…

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Concurrent information architecture

6 January, 2017    

I often think of information architecture as providing ‘direction’ – it defines an axis along which an experience should flow. IA lays the foundation for a design – so it prescribes some of the shapes that will emerge as a product or service is designed and built. But I like to think it also helps to shape the experience contained in those places – it points and provides a direction to follow…

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Space-Time // Experience-architecture

31 October, 2016    

At UX New Zealand Jason Cranford Teague shared some of his thinking on temporal design. Jason argued for an extension of UX practice and design thinking to consider the experience and evolution of designs in time. This is a subject close to my heart. I’ve been talking about Trajectories, time and experience architecture for a few years now. So I thought I’d share my notes of Jason’s talk. It was…

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Time, space and information architecture

19 September, 2016    

Information architects create places made out of information, so thinking spatially has always been a big part of what we do. But IA isn’t just about space. IAs should always be thinking about the experiences that their spaces contain. Experiences happen in time. I’ve spent some time thinking about time and space, so that I can be a better information architect. [This is the development and refinement of some ideas…

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Talking about IA at conferences – Most of what we do is invisible

9 May, 2016    

Most of what we do is invisible. A lot of the time I’m manipulating ideas, concepts, data and information, rather than pixels. A lot of the time I’m adjusting and reframing constraints, nudging at assumptions to rearrange them to play more nicely with my ambitions. A lot of the time I’m staring at a spreadsheet. My work is a mixture of the immaterial and the unglamorous. It makes presenting it…

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Mind the gap – Taxonomies, tags and trajectories at the BBC

7 May, 2016    

In this post I talk about the dangers of ignoring gaps, the importance of making the invisible stuff in projects more visible – assumptions, the connections and relationships, the dependencies and possibilities. I also discuss the structures we make and the ways we can understand and explain the experiences they contain.

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User journeys, Trajectories and Transitions for UX designers

23 October, 2015    

This post is about gaps. I think gaps are where most of the interesting design challenges are lurking, particularly if you’re interested in information architecture. Information architecture is fundamentally interested in gaps — gaps between problems and solutions, between products and audiences, between perfection and pragmatism. Gaps invite us to think about the differences that cause them and the connections that might bridge them. Gaps keep us in a job. This article is…

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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…

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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…

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