Much virtual ink has been spilled in the last year or two over the importance of thinking about information design in terms of systems as opposed to thinking of it as a set of carefully laid out maps.
In a 2012 blog post on Embodied Responsiveness, Andrew Hinton observed that “rather than trying to pre-program and map out every possible scenario, we need systems that respond intelligently by the very nature of their architectures.” Stephen Hay (Responsive Design Workflow, 2013) and Sara Wachter-Boettcher (Content Everywhere, 2012) have likewise called out the need to stop thinking about web design in terms of pages and start thinking about it as a system, as a cohesive, interrelated whole. ... continue reading
To code or not to code? For designers, that’s a very contentious question. Clients like designers who code because (among other reasons) that’s one less body on payroll. Design advocates, on the other hand, often see code as a technical limitation that stifles creativity. To make matters worse, the information ecologies we all work in refuse to stand still. By looking carefully at some of our favorite arguments, however – and by taking them within the context of our ever-evolving digital landscape – we can begin to make a case for when working in code makes sense. ... continue reading
Just when it seems we’re starting to get our heads around the mobile revolution, another design challenge has risen up fiercer and larger right behind it: the Internet of Things. The rise in popularity of “wearables” and the growing activity around NFC and Bluetooth LE technologies are pushing the Internet of Things increasingly closer to the mainstream consumer market. Just as some challenges of mobile computing were pointedly addressed by responsive web design and adaptive content, we must carefully evaluate our approach to integration, implementation, and interface in this emerging context if we hope to see it become an enriching part people’s daily lives (and not just another source of anger and frustration).
It is with this goal in mind that I would like to offer a series of posts as one starting point for a conversation about user interface design, user experience design, and information architecture for connected environments. I’ll begin by discussing the functional relationship between user interface design and information architecture, and by drawing out some implications of this relationship for user experience as a whole. ... continue reading
In an earlier post in this series, I examined the articulatory relationship between information architecture and user interface design, and argued that the tools that have emerged for constructing information architectures on the web will only get us so far when it comes to expressing information systems across diverse digital touchpoints. Here, I want to look more closely at these traditional web IA tools in order to tease out two things: (1) ways we might rely on these tools moving forward, and (2) ways we’ll need to expand our approach to IA as we design for the Internet of Things. ... continue reading
In the first two posts in this series, I examined the connection between information architecture and user interface design, and then looked closely at the opportunities and constraints inherent in information architecture as we’ve learned to practice it on the web. Here, I outline strategies and tactics that may help us think through these constraints and that may in turn help us lay the groundwork for an information architecture practice tailored and responsive to our increasingly connected physical environments. ... continue reading
Here are the slides and a complete transcript of my 2015 Information Architecture Summit talk on information design for emerging organic networks. This is the latest iteration of a topic I had the honor and privilege to deliver at the Italian IA Summit in Bologna (as the Keynote talk), and at Seattle’s inaugural World IA Day event. In each of these cases, my goal was to explore how an ecological approach to information spaces can help us design more effectively in complex and unpredictable environments. ... continue reading
This last February I had the honor of giving the opening keynote at World IA Day in Zurich, Switzerland. Here are the slides and a complete transcript of my talk, “Designing for the Human Scale.” ... continue reading
Here is a video and complete transcript of my 2018 Information Architecture Summit talk on prototyping information architecture with dynamic content, “Prototyping Information Architecture,” delivered in March 2018 in Chicago. ... continue reading
At the IA Summit earlier this year I had the pleasure of chatting with the brilliant and affable Carrie Hane over lunch about structured content, prototyping, and connected data approaches to IA. One of the things that had us both in a bit of a quandary was what to do about “the site map.” Being an “organizer,” that neat hierarchy of tidy boxes and connections has a lot of appeal. And clients love them: they get to see where all their stuff goes! But when designing large scale digital content organization systems (you know, “websites”) for dynamic, evolving collections of content, creating that map of “where everything goes” seems to have become, in equal measures, increasingly laborious, and increasingly short lived. ... continue reading
Over the last several years I’ve become an ardent advocate of “structured content design.” This is the process of designing digital resources (like websites and apps) from the content out, as opposed to creating interaction and visual design first, then shoehorning the content into it right before (or right after) launch.
A structured content approach to digital work has a number of advantages over typical “interface first” processes: ... continue reading