Archives for category: Information Architecture

Between June 2013 and March 2014, I was honored to serve as part of the Chair Committee for the Information Architecture Summit. It happened to be the event’s fifteenth anniversary. This being the third time I worked on the event, I wanted to give it a little 15th birthday present.

What would a fifteen year old IA conference want more than some documentation of all this grassroots glory!?!?

I set out to find out what had happened the past 14 years. Then throughout the planning process, I created diagrams and information graphics that helped the team and our community understand the interior workings of the beloved community event. I have collected them all below along with some photos of them in action at Poster night. Read the rest of this entry »


“And you may ask yourself – Well…How did I get here?” – The Talking Heads

This summer marks my tenth year as a practicing information architect. It is not surprising that a decade of reflection would yield some lessons, but instead of lessons I want to share with you the story I told at this year’s IAI Annual Meeting.

This is the story of how the last ten years unfolded for me.  Read the rest of this entry »

Today in my thesis class at SVA I had the students complete an assignment that initially felt simple, but was in my opinion one of the more complex tasks that I have asked them to do.

I asked them to anticipate the top 3 questions that could be asked of them about their work based on how they plan to present it. Then I asked them to answer those questions clearly and post the resulting document to their public blog.

Given that my thesis is around how to bring the concept of information architecture to new audiences, I documented the top 3 questions I currently get as a result of introducing IA. I can’t speak for my students, but this assignment was really exciting, challenging and rewarding to accomplish. I urge any of you working on something big out there to try this same method.

Read the rest of this entry »

To the Moon!

“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.”  – Buddha Read the rest of this entry »

I am an Information Architect

I am proud to be teaching Information Architecture at Parsons this semester. It has been one hell of a ride thus far, and I feel like it is a good time to tell you all a bit about the class and what the students are chewing on. Read the rest of this entry »

Slides from a class I put together for college kids on understanding the roles and results of user experience. Enjoy!

I just had the great pleasure of delivering this talk on systems based thinking at The Wharton Web Conference. I am leaving Philly with lots of ideas about what I want to write and speak about next based on the comments and questions from the audience.

Oh yea, and I got to meet Steve Wozniak!

Below are links to the materials from the workshop I just taught at General Assembly called “Understanding Information Architecture”

Also here were my favorite 3 questions:

Q: How do you deal with drastic lack of consensus between stakeholders after interviewing them about what they want?

A: First, make sure you aren’t focusing on asking what they want. Make sure you are asking questions that get at what they need. I like to talk about fears, hopes and clear goals. Also try to highlight those differences in person and use tools like collaborative design to work through the problem until clarity is reached and consensus can occur.

Q: What about organizational silos getting in the way, any ideas for combating that?

A: Try identifying people who have similar roles but in different silos and interview them together in prep for group work. Then make sure in a group setting that people from the same silos don’t just sit and work together. Also make sure strategic and design work coming from the process is not presented in silos.

Q: How is IA different than UX? Where does one start and the other stop?

A: User Experience isn’t a thing you do; it’s the result of making a lot of decisions about what to invest in and how things should work. Great user experiences are best enabled by making deliberate decisions about what is being designed and built and why.

Information Architecture is a useful lens to use in the process of deciding what should be designed and built and why. Information Architecture is about making things clear. Information Architecture is a set of tools and techniques to not only help make those decisions, but also to communicate them efficiently to those producing the elements of the potential user experience.

Like other fields there are a lot of shared tools, so it is fruitless to discuss which disciplines own which deliverables. Many of the tools I use are borrowed from Improv Comedy, Behavioral Psychology and Industrial Design. And I expect that set of tools to keep changing while my goal as an IA will not. I make the unclear, clear.

I look forward to your feedback as I continue to develop this class.

findable, accessible, clear, communicative, useful, credible, controllable, valuable, learnable and delightfulIt is late spring 2011 and I am sitting in Dan Klyn’s kitchen. It smells like blueberry pie and startup rollercoaster tracks. Dan and Bob are three months into their new company, The Understanding Group. It is my first week full time; I am living out of a suitcase on my way to New York City. We have a client that we recently started to work with and we are excitedly discussing the heuristic assessment that we are about to start for them.

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Here are the slides from my talk at Interaction 12 in Dublin. If this content resonates with you, feel free to download and use my deck to teach these principles to others (and please drop me a tweet to tell me how it went)
Also, for those interested: I plan to have the matching poster out by IA Summit time. So stay tuned for news on that.