--- Originally posted on the Adaptive Path Blog ---
About a year ago, Jesse came to me and suggested I change my title from Information Architect to User Experience Designer. He gave a number of reasons, but none of them resonated with me. I clearly remember commiserating with some dear friends at the IA Summit 2008 about this proposed change in title.
I didn’t want to give up the title. I considered myself an information architect first and foremost. I’ve called myself an IA for nine years now. I was proud of the name. It was who I was. So I didn’t change it.
In Memphis this past weekend, at the IA Summit 2009, I spent a lot of time talking with first time attendees and those new to the field of information architecture. I hosted a round table at lunch for those new to IA. They were a great table, with tons of questions.
One of the things they really wanted to know was how to become a great IA. My answers surprised me. I didn’t tell them that they had to master multi-faceted classification or be able to generate thesauri and controlled vocabularies from scratch. I didn’t tell them about stencils and templates for making better wireframes.
I told them how important it was to listen to the customers of the organizations they would be working for and to deeply understand their behaviors and motivations. I told them to be champions for the user. I told them to listen to the pain of their clients, and think about how their designs could ease it. I told them not to go in shouting about CVs and classification and indexing and how their clients were doing it all wrong. Be subtle, I said. Listen for their needs. Present classifications and metadata and all that cool stuff as the way to get your designs implemented, not as an end in and of itself.
And I realized I wasn’t telling them how to do good information architecture. I was telling them how to do good user experience design. I realized while I love IA, and it is my core competency, it is also only a small part of what I do.
For that reason, I am taking on the title of User Experience Designer.