Design is Changing Shopping (for the Better)

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Technology changes at the speed of light. Just when a shopping experience is updated for the latest craze, something new arrives on the scene and uproots the way people shop online. Even though this happens all the time, some design trends can give hints at how the landscape of eCommerce changes from year to year. Paying attention to these improvements allows us to stay on top of consumer needs and make educated guesses about where and when the next big thing happens. 

The number of people shopping online increases massively every year, especially in 2020 during the global pandemic. Online retailers can expect increased orders, and stores not yet online should get their websites up and running to meet this demand. 

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Architectural Intelligence: Part 2

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We are pleased to present a few more sections from Molly Wright Steenson’s brilliant book detailing the rich history of Digital Architecture. The book covers five influential architects who insisted on working to forward digital approaches, and proceeded to create the design path for a lot of modern digital design, including the origins of Information Architecture.

In Part 2 of these book excerpts Molly covers the early history of Boxes and Arrows alongside a few events and details from the early IA community.

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Moving from Corporate to Contract

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Working as a full time in house employee definitely has its benefits; camaraderie, stability, and the support of a team are alluring aspects for many designers. Yet, it also has many drawbacks. If you’re frustrated with the politics, tired of endless meetings, or you just want creative freedom and increased income, contract work can be an appealing option.

But how do you actually start freelancing?

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Architectural Intelligence: Part 1

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We are pleased to present a few sections from Molly Wright Steenson’s brilliant book detailing the rich history of Digital Architecture. The book covers five influential architects who insisted on working to forward digital approaches, and proceeded to create the design path for a lot of modern digital design, including the origins of Information Architecture.

In Part 1 of these book excerpts Molly covers the history of how Information Architecture emerged as a practice and the beginnings of what we know of as IA today.

Continue reading Architectural Intelligence: Part 1

We are a community

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Message from the publishers

As a native Texan in the Pacific Northwest, and a transplant Texan from Southern California, we are very aware of the significance of today’s date: Juneteenth. And we celebrate its significance and reflect on what it means to us. We’re left asking ourselves how we can be better allies. We know we haven’t done enough. We are educating ourselves on how to do more.

Boxes and Arrows has always been a platform for community.  We are a Latinx owned, volunteer run publication, and we stand with the community in proclaiming loudly that Black Lives Matter. Over the past three weeks we have watched events unfold showing the effects of systemic racism and police brutality. It is difficult. It is emotional. We are deeply affected. We’ve huddled closely to our families, and marched beside members of our communities to send a clear message that change must happen now.

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Taking Research out of the Lab

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To date, usability testing has been largely confined to usability labs. This ensures a controlled environment where users can interact with products or designs and researchers can field questions. The downside of this is not being able to get the context of use of what you are testing. But a recent project for a life science organization cemented the idea that taking user research out of the usability lab yields the best results.

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Focus on Usage Maturity: Part II

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Meet Users Where They Are, Draw Them Deeper In

If we want users to remain our users, we ought to entice them deeper into our design ecosystem.

Attempts to extend or expand users’ usage, frequently results in designs complicated by added features, and functions. My user experience research has informed digital and physical designs often with an emphasis on correcting the usability of such complexities. Users interact with the things we design at varying levels of usage maturity. Usage maturity is a measure of users’ comfort and familiarity with, and degree of use of a product, process, or place. 

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Information Architecture Expert Panel – Part One

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The Structure of Complexity

With the 2020 events for World IA Day (est. 2012) and the IA Conference (est. as IA Summit in 2000) approaching, the team here at Boxes and Arrows is taking this opportunity to highlight the importance of Information Architecture (IA). We reached out to some pillars of the IA community to ask them for their thoughts on, where information architecture is today, and where it’s going. Their response was so enthusiastic that we will be breaking this into multiple posts.

My thanks to the generosity of Abby Covert, Peter Morville, Jorge Arango, Donna Spencer, Madonnalisa Chan, Dan Klyn, Andy Fitzgerald, Grace Lau, Dan Brown, Andrew Hinton, Lou Rosenfeld, and Boxes and Arrows patron saint, Christina Wodtke. The time and insights they provided to bring this post together are very appreciated.

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An Out of the Box Rebranding

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Just before the 2020 new year, we decided it was a good time to refresh the Boxes and Arrows brand identity, a time to start a fresh decade with a fresh logo. And, after a few weeks at the drawing board, we’re liking the results. 

To us, the new, dynamic, and pleasingly symmetrical icon—a box made of arrows—represents the emerging dimensions of information spaces, greater interconnected continuity between people, and an ever-expanding collection of knowledge which we hope to bring to our readers. 

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Focus on Usage Maturity: Part I

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Designing for All Users by Starting at the Beginning

Far too often, products are designed to meet the needs of the typical user. As a user experience researcher, I’m always cautious about defining the “typical user” for any of the digital or physical products I work on. My UX research has included work on business processes, websites, services, software platforms, digital games, physical products,  and physical properties.

I prefer to use a usage maturity matrix and design to meet the range of functional priorities of our users.

  • Usage maturity is a measure of users’ comfort and familiarity with and degree of use of a product.
  • A usage maturity matrix defines the functional priorities at each level of usage maturity.
  • The matrix lists beginning, proficient, and advanced level functional priorities and can expand to include novice and expert levels to account for greater complexity.
Continue reading Focus on Usage Maturity: Part I