Information Architecture #1: Seek and You Will Find


While working through a new training workshop on “Information Architecture 101”, I remembered this series of articles I wrote. They are just as relevant now as they were when I first wrote them. Enjoy!

Originally posted on WeirdGuy:

Gathered information types.You have your templates redesigned, you have your content in place and you’ve launched your “new and improved” Web site. You have had some good traffic but you keep getting emails from users stating they have problems finding what they are looking for on your site.

What is the problem? The site makes sense to you. You know how items and sections are arranged and organized. Why do you continue to get these kinds of emails? Suddenly, you remember having heard someone use the term information architecture. You didn’t know exactly what it meant at the time and therefore discarded it as just another techno buzz-word.

Information Architecture (IA) is one of the more subtle yet profound disciplines in Web site development. At its basic level, IA specifies how users will find content on a site. It defines the organization, navigation, labeling and searching of content. IA can be…

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So You Want To Hire A UXer

I have been getting a lot of questions lately about what makes a good user experience designer. Unfortunately, the phrase “user experience” is gaining momentum but not a lot of clarity. We used to be called information architects, then usability specialists, and now user experience designers and customer experience designers.

While talking with a tech recruiter today I was reminded of a previous post. So here is a variation on the original. However, this speaks to the hiring criteria.

Check out Whitney Hess’ blog. I believe Whitney makes a good point that one way to understand what a good UXer is, means to have a clearer picture of what a good UXer is not. Especially, if you are hiring (or considering hiring) a UX designer, make sure you know exactly what you’re looking for. There is a big difference between a Web Designer and a UX Designer. There is a big difference between a Frontend Developer and UX Designer. For added information, see Whitney’s detailed post on these points below:

You’re not hiring a UXer if they…

  1. Don’t talk to users
  2. Can’t identify your target audience
  3. Don’t define the problem before trying to solve it
  4. Can’t articulate your users’ goals
  5. Don’t understand the importance of analytics
  6. Design in a vacuum
  7. Make design decisions based on personal preferences
  8. Don’t consider the business objectives
  9. Don’t use UX methodologies
  10. Don’t design for conditions and edge cases
  11. Can’t understand and talk to business stakeholders, creatives, and front-end/back-end developers
  12. Only think about the interface
  13. Never consider the ROI

Make sure the job description for your position includes these items or you’re looking for the wrong person. I hope this helps remove some of the fuzzy thinking and mystique behind hiring a good UXer. Enjoy!

Even For Grown-ups Work Must Be Fun

[Based off a previous post]

There seems to be this unspoken creed among adults in the working world that goes like this, “If you’re having fun at work you must not be working.” The insinuation is, if you are playing, you’re not getting work done, therefore, you’re wasting time. Likewise, the slogan “Work Hard, Play Hard” is often associated with two different environments 1) Work hard while at work 2) Play hard while at home (or on HR related corporate outtings). Why can’t these environments be the same? Why can’t they co-mingle?

The National Institute for Play says:

Corporate attitudes about play-on-the-job vary immensely. But, the knowledge and ethic to support play-based practices that create innovative, problem solving work teams are virtually non-existent in organizations today.

Executives running organizations do not have the information to understand the true nature of play. Even those who have a natural appreciation and temperament for the benefits of play see play and work as separate. Some believe that play is the opposite of work.

When it comes to business we have to be mature and serious. Right? Yet, we’re jealous of the people that “love what they do” and “cannot wait to get up each morning” because they are having fun at work.

Within some entrepreneurial organizations the concept of fun and play are emerging as viable and needed elements in employee development and competitive business growth. This is especially poignant when it comes to innovation and organizational learning. This is what I call “The Fun Factor” in learning. Below are listed several ways that establishing the catalyst of fun will benefit your life, your team, your work, and your bottom-line.

10 Benefits of the Fun Factor

  1. It is pleasurable and consequently opens the learner to additional learning.
  2. It minimizes defensiveness and a trust relationship is developed with the employee.
  3. It stimulates retention because what the employee likes and enjoys, he/she remembers and practices.
  4. It captures imagination and stirs the creative and innovative nature within the employee.
  5. It engages the employee, gets him/her interacting while not putting them to sleep with mundane routine.
  6. It excites and drives the employee to want to know more on a subject or topic.
  7. It energizes the employee and shapes departmental and corporate culture.
  8. It synergizes as the employee applies “fun approaches” to work.
  9. It changes outlook as the employee begins to see life from a positive aspect.
  10. It increases mental flexibility helping the employee cope with strenuous situations.

What other benefits have you seen? Comment below and let me know.

How UX can get the budget they want


Check out Alan’s post on selling UX to your leadership or potential client. Be warned – you first need to know the numbers and how that equates to the value you bring. Do your homework and then pitch your solution.

Originally posted on Clunky - Alastair Simpson:


If you want to get bigger budgets for your UX work, you have to look at the problem from the eyes of your manager and even their manager.  Just as you look at interfaces from the point of view of your users, what angle is your boss looking at the problem from?  And what is your hook that will make them sit up and listen to you?  An exit rate of 10% due to poorly formatted error messages and form fields? Or $2 million dollars in lost revenue?  Which is more compelling to your manager?  You have to frame your arguments in terms that will appeal to your boss, or face always feeling like they are never listening and you are not getting the budgets you deserve.

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UX Mentoring

I recently read a short piece by Oz at UX Beginner and feel he is spot-on! The article is about finding a UX Mentor.

Key take-aways for mentors:

  • Help set expectations
  • Be on the lookout for opportunities to network your mentee
  • Be on the lookout for possible job opportunities for your mentee

Key take-aways for mentees:

  • Drive the relationship
  • Show initiative
  • Be accountable to your mentor

Thanks Oz for your insights and this timely post. Read the full article for more details.

Google Soon To Add Mobile UX To Ranking Algorithm

The implications could be enormous for every site on the Web that competes for Google ranking. Good UX is more than look and feel. Make sure you have a seasoned UX professional on your team to maintain a strong Web presence.

Google can currently look at the user interface and not just see specific font sizes but see how a user would see the fonts on different mobile devices. Google is also able to see how a user will see how a page scrolls on a mobile interface; are the buttons large enough to click on; is the interface confusing to mobile users?

If the mobile version of a website has tiny fonts, once GoogleBot renders the page, it can see that because it actually renders the page as a user would. For example, if the HTML has a 14px font size, then once rendered with JavaScript and CSS, it might have modified those to 8px instead. This on a tiny view-port could lead to a bad user experience.

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