Demystifying IA/UX/UI: Part 1

To understand Information Architecture, User Experience, and User Interface (IA/UX/UI) it may be helpful to begin from the broader scope of Interaction Design. Per the IxDA (Interaction Design Association), Interaction Design defines the structure and behavior of interactive systems. Interaction Designers strive to create meaningful relationships between people and the products and services they use—from computers and mobile devices to appliances and beyond.

Interaction Design defines the structure and behavior of interactive systems.

Does this sound familiar? Do you create advertising, applications, augmented reality, communications, content, educations, events, packaging, products, promotions, signage, social media, surveys, virtual reality, or wayfinding? Does your work impact customers, employees, users aka… people? Whether a user (code for person/human) is internal or external to your company, chances are the answer is yes. Many of you like myself have been architects, creative directors, communicators, designers, developers, educators, engineers, marketers, product designers, technologists, etc., and have used your expertise including Information Architecture, User Experience, and User Interface Design. But not so long ago we just called it “good design” as all successful solutions include IA/UX/UI best practices. Why? Because we are problem solvers who use research to analyze problems and opportunties from end-to-end to inform us on how to deliver a solution that benefits the USER, and how that translates to driving impact.

Unfortunately with the ‘siloing’ of skills, team members may not have foundational knowledge or hands-on experience with each of these skills, which limits the facilitation of interconnected workflows to deliver cohesive solutions. So let’s demystify these “skills” and into real-world applications with which many of you are already quite familiar.

Interaction Design focuses on a person NOT the technology.

Whether you are designing a candy dispenser in the shape of a tube so toddlers can hold it and open & close it with ease

  • A medical device that fits in your back pocket to encourage young people with diabetes to check their blood sugar.
  • A cell phone with bigger buttons, numbers, and a screen display so senior citizens can actually use it.
  • A coupon to be cut out of an FSI ad (Free Standing Insert) or the QR Code (Quick Response) to be scanned with a smartphone and presented to the cashier for savings.
  • The back of a cereal box with glorious games so you eat your way through a honeycombed breakfast with dreams of adventures to be continued on any number of digital devices.
  • A parking meter that takes coins, credit cards, or Apple Pay.

All of the above are examples of Interaction & Experience Design and require the expertise of good designers who are sometimes called Information Architects, User Experience Designers, or User Interface Designers. And sometimes that designer may have worked on solutions that required using the unique mindsets and skills of each of these roles.

Remember Interaction Design is about people, how they feel, what they know, and what they do… and what they WANT to do.

But wait, there’s more…
Depending on the complexity of a project, the list of specific and transitional skill sets to meet the needs and the nuances of each Interaction Experience can be quite expansive. Check out Demystifying IA/UX/UI Part 2 to learn more!

“I never gave up painting, I just changed my palette.” ~ Ray Eames