Wednesday, June 25, 2008

User Experience

My job title is Senior Information Architect (IA); it is a component of what in the web world is called the User Experience (UX) arena.

I have a slightly easier time getting people to pronounce my name correctly that I do getting them to understand what I do for a living. Here's a representative conversation along those lines -- apocryphal, but entirely plausible.


Web Novice: What do you do for a living?

Information Architect: Well…it’s tough to describe, but you can say that I make web sites.

WN: Great! I need a web site for my business on the side. How much would you charge to make it?

IA: Um…it depends on what you want to do.

WN: Just a simple web site where I can show products from my shop.

IA: OK, I don’t program code. But I could design an interface for it…

WN: Oh, so you’re an artist? I thought you actually made the web sites.

IA: Sort of, but I’m not a graphics person; I focus on the functions of the site.

WN: (long pause, confused look) So you design web pages, but you’re not an artist. And you make web pages, but you’re not a programmer.

IA: That’s right.

WN: So what is it that you do again?


The IA is the professional who focuses on how to make an online solution work best for the end-user -- key words are usability, human factors, user interface, web design, organizing, taxonomy. It is about empowering decision-makers by providing them with the information and tools they need to take care of business. I enjoy the work very much, and I recommend the job highly.

U.S. News & World Report listed "Usability/User Experience Specialist" as one of the 20 best careers to have for 2008.

UX Words of Wisdom:

* The user is the stakeholder with ultimate veto power.

* Information is the currency of decision-makers.
- Chris Brantley, IEEE web master

* Where is the wisdom? Lost in the knowledge.
Where is the knowledge? Lost in the information.
The Rock (paraphrased), T.S. Eliot

No comments: