My Blog

How do you do IA?

17 May, 2019    

Being an information architect is hard. I think two of the biggest challenges to working as an IA are that we often work independently and every project is different. It’s hard to learn from others and getting experience takes time. There are definitely things that each IA can learn from looking at the practice of…


What did linked data ever do for us anyway? – from BBC Academy

3 September, 2018    

Linked data is the super-structure over which content is stretched and experiences flow. It can switch our taxonomic thinking into ontological thinking. So we can move beyond classifying content using just hierarchies and start describing the real world richness that connects our content together. Linked data can power the online journeys of the future, and…


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…


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…


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…


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…


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…


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…


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…


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…


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…


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….


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.


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…