doldrumsOnce I have my intention set and more specific goals I want to reach with my work: then what? There are seemingly endless executions that can be derived from a single purpose. Where should I even start? So creeps in another opportunity for smart people to get in their own way. I am learning that it takes a tremendous amount of work and courage to get from why to what. Read the rest of this entry »


Some people (designer types mostly) call the carpets of Las Vegas “gaudy” or “eye sores”, while others describe them as “beautiful” and “lively”. Las Vegas businesses strike a great symbiosis between users’ aesthetic desires and a business’ need to disguise spills and other stain laden mishaps that might happen in a place like Las Vegas.

In my third week teaching at SVA Products of Design, I wanted the students to start fielding the challenges involved in communicating intent. We discussed how for every word that might describe where you intend to go, there will be a word that you should in-turn be walking away from directionally.  Read the rest of this entry »

Make Something

My second class at SVA Products of Design was intended to be about communicating intent. I had a short lecture and group activity prepared and everything. However, upon arriving at school, there was a blizzard of questions about the intent not of their thesis projects, but instead for the thesis class itself.

In creation of the syllabus I shared here with you all last week, I had used the words “make something” to express a weekly prompt for the students to get up from their writing desks and actually make something to better relate to their thesis subject. Read the rest of this entry »

Afraid of Light

“Beyond a doubt truth bears the same relation to falsehood as light to darkness.”

– Da Vinci

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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 »


“If your work isn’t what you love, then something isn’t right.”

– The Talking Heads

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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.