Big Ideas

When resources are limited, the design must be optimized to make the best use of all resources. To account for this complexity, it is important to have a clear understanding of both sides of the design equation—what you have to work with and what you are trying to build.

Long before anyone was looking for “godfathers” of information architecture, our fellow species were wrestling with some of the same problems we face today. The real godfathers of information architecture, as it turns out, emerged a very long time ago with the earliest origins of life on this planet.

Jesse James Garrett’s “The Elements of User Experience” diagram has become rightly famous as a clear and simple model for the sorts of things that user experience professionals do. But as a model of user experience it presents an incomplete picture with some serious omissions—omissions I’ll try address with a more holistic model.

Somewhere in the process of evangelizing user-centered design, user experience professionals seem to have forgotten the value of vision-driven design, which can be equally important in making sites and software relevant and desirable. We need to integrate both approaches.

As users and builders demand more and more richness from the Web, we need to re-evaluate the technology that 99% of it is built on. It seems no matter how sophisticated our back ends get, the front ends remain stagnant. What other options are there? What are the requirements that we as user experience designers face that newer technologies miss the boat on?

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