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.
“IA is all around us and is mostly practiced by people who don’t even know they are doing it.”
“Information architecture is the way we arrange the parts of something to make sense as a whole, whether that be arranging screens in a mobile application or arranging various pieces of signage at a baseball stadium. IA involves the careful consideration of the language you use and the structures you enable for users to understand something. So IA is all around us and is mostly practiced by people who don’t even know they are doing it.”
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.
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.
In the spring of 2002, Christina Wodtke and David Bloxom had a three-buck-chuck infused afternoon and came up with Boxes and Arrows.
That kid is now 17 and, like a teenager heading off to college, Boxes and Arrows — and, more importantly, its staff of three — is going to take a little time to think about things to come. This means migrating our hosting, adopting a new look, and optimizing our content, along with solving any technical issues of the past.
We’ll be back in January 2020, ready for adulting and ready to make everyone proud.
Looking through my parents’ storage boxes, I found letters that my mother and father sent one another prior to my existence. This unfathomable world was decades away from mobile phones, public internet connectivity, and social networking. Along with explanations of humorous or ordinary everyday episodes and proclamations of love, the letters included doodles, crossed out words, and long postscriptums. I don’t know if my mother or father ever dabbed some perfume on their letters hoping to evoke butterflies in the other’s stomach; it would not have been out of place.
My parents may not have thought about it, but their craftsmanship likely had an impact on the recipient. Perhaps my dad’s use of smiley faces (predating by 45 years when the word “emoji” was selected as Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year) made my mom smile. Maybe crooked handwriting or spelling mistakes hinted that one of them was anxious or hurried. The intuitive idea that the recipient of a letter responds not just to the dictionary meaning of the words within but also to the tone, paper, calligraphy, neatness, and presentation would be wrapped up by the behavioral science concept that “context matters.” When my parents customized their letters they were in control of said context. They manipulated the context to amplify their love or neutralize a piece of sad news. Continue reading Don’t Send Personal Messages Through LinkedIn (Unless You Want People to Hate You)