why

I worked for Reed Elsevier for over 8 years in a variety of roles. Starting as a web designer I moved into design management, responsible for teams of designers. Prior to this I had my own agency creating digital experiences.

Whilst working as a digital art director I studied for a Masters degree in Design Practice, specializing in UCD techniques. After qualifying, I became an Information Architect and was responsible for the formulation of the business’ information architecture strategy, its implementation amongst several teams, and the redesign of several major industry websites.

I now work as a UX Director for Hello Group, responsible for methodology, business generation and new projects. On this blog I record findings as well as developments in information architecture, interaction design, and user experience.

Why IA?

When great design is seen it is often because the details have been thrashed out, poured over, the problem re-framed and refined. When I used to design websites there was always a nagging fear that I hadn’t quite got it right. I hadn’t listened to the user enough; maybe I had missed the point or tried to implement a design whim of mine.

I have designed print brochures, posters, packaging, software interfaces, and websites for B2B and B2C clients for over 15 years. Large-scale, small-scale, subscriptions only, free content, forums, emails and games – just about every type of online product. The work was always briefed, the business decisions had been made and I was the interaction and interface designer.

Sure, the work looked pretty enough but it did not fulfil my personal criteria of great design. I wanted to get the whole picture and this is where IA enables you to do just that. Specifically if you come in from a front end perspective, and know the value of user research and testing, then this job is so much more rewarding. Designing the structure, the way navigation is displayed and the page elements (all for the user) with evidence to back it up is as close to foolproof as you will get. As long as the recommendations of a strategy are listened to, and not diluted, then this is sound logic.

Perhaps because of this I love it. Sure, it is hard to get people to understand, listen and act but it’s worth it. A website is no different to other products; it must be designed using researched data as a foundation and creative solutions to help sell it. Giving the users what they want is surely the first rule of business, enabling them to find and interact with content must be the first rule of website design.

The vision of the semantic web is being realised and the opportunities are huge. Web analytics tools are becoming more powerful, the audience is more developed and interactive, and our understanding of them more complete. User’s pathways around sites are defined, their interactions transparent and it is so much easier to build quality user experiences.

There is no better time to be an IA.