Why I am no longer calling myself an information architect,

| 1 Comment

--- 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.

1 Comment

Speaking as someone who started out as a jack of all trades about 8 years ago and has refined my role over the years - I now have the job title of User Experience Architect.

I am happy with this and would also be happy with User Experience Designer.

You've hit the nail on the head - and I think it is important to recognise all the IA activities which we conduct on projects are all with the users in mind. And to do this successfully,the core skills of being a good listener and having empathy so we can better understand behaviors and motivations is what make you even better at your job.

I think these 2 job titles are becoming pretty much accepted now, just search for User Experience Architect and User Experience Designer to see jobs popping up all over the place.


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This page contains a single entry by Chiara published on March 23, 2009 9:31 AM.

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