My Blog

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 –…


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…


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…


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.


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…


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…


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…


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…


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……


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…


Unexplored trajectories in experience design

12 May, 2013     / / / /

Experiences provoke responses as you move through them. They’re interactive and the level and type of interaction fluctuates. Designing experiences asks us to think about this ebb and flow, consider the categories of interaction and engineer an experience that will channel and shape the user response. We afford experiences. But users create them. Forrest Gump told us that life is like a box of chocolates. He didn’t provide too much…


Invisible art, intrinsic motivation

8 May, 2013     / /

10,000 hours Imagine waking up at 8am practising something for 12 hours, going to bed, getting up in the morning and doing it all over again. Imagine eating soup, wearing the same pants everyday* and avoiding all distractions. Imagine that you take weekends off, but use them to visit your Aunty Doris, who you hate.  According to some ‘experts’ you can adopt this sort of lifestyle and master a skill…


The invisible man

You don’t get anything for free

1 May, 2013     /

We’re doing more and more with content these days. There was a time when you wrote a page for the web and that was that. Hyperlinking created the webbyness of the net. But basically, a page was on the web, with a URL to locate it, and that was that. Since search engines came along and started breaking pages up and detecting meaning, the experience of the web has started…


Turtles all the way down

15 April, 2013    

For some time I’ve had this bon mots rattling around in my head, like an earworm, infinitely repeating as if it knew it’s own meaning. When this happens it usually means either that my brain has made a decision and it’s waiting for the rest of me to realise, or it’s a request for more brain resources on a particularly tricky problem. I like to think that it’s the brain…