The Umbrella of UX

There was an interesting question posted to the IxDA mailing list yesterday:

Can we say that Usability, User centered design,
Information Architecture and interaction design fall under the umbrella
of User experience design?

I offered a perspective on Rohit’s question. Wonder how this’ll land.

Hi Rohit,

What follows is pretty parsimonious, but I suppose that’s what email lists are for?


There are some folks who use Use Experience as their umbrella construct or philosophical approach to the making of communications systems and artifacts. For these folks, “doing the information architecture” is a project phase or part of a project phase, one that is sometimes blended with “doing the interaction design.” And all of it is done with the experience of the user as the drum major at the front of the parade, and experience as the explicit designed-for outcome. Their business card says whatever it needs to say – they’re not hung up on titles, but instead are passionate about users and about how to make stuff that’s awesome by prizing experience in the design and development process.


There are also some folks who are called User Experience Designers, who see User Experience Design (capital D) as the name for the umbrella and as their preferred name for the nascent field of practice. Many of these folks used to be or would have been called IA or IxD in a similar job 5 years ago. They use UXD instead of IA or IxD because that’s what we call it now, and see the other initials as more or less interchangeable but less advantageous in conversation, publishing, tribal identity etc.


More exotically, there are some folks who (still) use Information Architecture as their umbrella construct or philosophical approach to the making of communications systems and artifacts. For these folks, the work is about understanding, and the philosophy is that understanding precedes action. Their work is akin to the work of other architects, only the structures they create are made of information. In shaping the forms that comprise the structures of an information architecture, they’re balancing and aligning business priorities, user priorities, aesthetic implications, matters of choreography… And all of it is done with Understanding as the drum major at the front of the parade, and performance as the explicit designed-for outcome. Their business card says whatever it needs to say – they’re not hung up on titles (ok, some of them are), but instead are passionate about the “what” of their projects and about how to ensure the stuff they work on is awesome by providing structures of language and information which enshrine the “what” of the project or enterprise in ways that designers and developers can then work within as they come up with the “how”‘s of the project.


Best wishes,

Dan K

17. February 2011 by dan
Categories: Teaching Information Architecture, User Experience Design | Tags: , | 2 comments

Logo Studies for The Understanding Group

Note, this post has moved to TUG’s blog: MakingThingsBe.Gd.

28. January 2011 by dan
Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , | 2 comments

Repost: 2009 Conversation with Richard Saul Wurman

Recordings of my first telephone conversation with Richard Saul Wurman:

17. December 2010 by dan
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Giving A Talk at Lansing IxDA Chapter Kickoff

Update: Proud to announce that Michigan’s own Dan Klyn (@danklyn) will be our new guest speaker Sept 16. Don’t miss it! than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

10. September 2010 by dan
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Lovely Quote from Dan Saffer’s Twitter

A beautiful design always contains some unexpected combination that shocks us with its appropriateness. W. Brian Arthurless than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

09. September 2010 by dan
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I’m Running For A Seat On The IA Institute Board

Here is my position statement. If you’re a member of the IAI you should have received your ballot via email last night or this morning.


Position Statement: IA and IAI Could Be Much Muchier

I’ve spent the first third of my career (depending on how you do the math) as an information architect enjoying the benefits of membership in the Institute, having inherited a fertile field within which to grow and develop my practice and point of view.

As I look ahead to the next third, and to the third which follows, I’m confident that people like me can continue to do interesting and rewarding work that’s deeply informed by and tantamount to information architecture. That being said, I have a number of concerns about the current disposition of the field of IA. I believe that many clients, analysts, business leaders and even other “web professionals” have lost the thread when it comes to IA. I believe that IA began as and can continue to be something “much muchier” than what it is widely understood to be and mean today. I’m very fortunate to have an “iSchool” teaching gig that provides me with some influence to shape individual practitioners’ perceptions of what IA is, where it came from, and where it’s going. And I’m currently developing the plans for an IA archive, symposium and exhibition at the University of Michigan School of Information, all of which is predicated on the idea that it’s good and important to raise the profile of IA and enhance its influence in academia and beyond.

Boldly, I will confide to you the voters that I desire additional influence.

I aspire to be instrumental in the leadership, policy-making and programming of the IAI for the next two years, and to steward this responsibility in ways that bring meaningful and enduring benefit to the field of IA and to practicing and prospective information architects. And while I believe that the IAI’s forums and events ought to be compelling enough to draw interest and attendance from related disciplines and acronyms, I think a(nother) seat on this board that’s always asking “what’s in this for information architects” and “how does this advance the profession of information architecture” can make a significant difference in how the Institute presents itself, serves members and positions its events and annual conference. Mr. Unger and the departing boardmembers have made operational improvements and have laid or strengthened the foundations for a number of important initiatives. I believe that the time is ripe (given the unprecedented number of open seats) for bold action to leverage this excellent foundation and then tighten the focus of the IAI to be… wait for it: Information Architecture. Bridges to related disciplines are good, but I have to admit that JJG’s remark in Memphis still stings me:

“the IAs are so busy declaring peace that they don’t even realize that they’ve already lost the war.”

This doubling-down on IA for IA’s sake is something that I would seek to make happen via respectful discussion and democratic voting processes among the members of the board. If the majority of the board is content to keep the rudder approximately where it’s been for the previous term with regard to the IA-centricity and posture of the Institute, I would be content to act as respectful troublemaker, requiring the majority to at least see and possibly understand what an IA-centric way forward would look like when it’s poised to move in a different direction.

Full disclosure: if you elect me to this board and the other directors collude with me to advance this Much Muchier IA platform, I think we should expect that the Institute will lose some members who’re put off by a bolder IA-centricity and posture on the part of the IAI.

I’m OK with this.

I sincerely appreciate being nominated to and being considered for election to the IAI board.

Dan Klyn

09. September 2010 by dan
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Shari Thurow on SEO and IA

Building an information architecture and navigation system based on keyword research is crazy

24. August 2010 by dan
Categories: Information Architecture Design, Information Architecture Strategy | Tags: | Leave a comment

Two Recent Publications, And An Upcoming Panel

A few weeks ago I was honored by a request from beloved former colleagues at Q LTD to write something for their newsletter and blog – the piece I wrote is called Wildly Appropriate and it contains the story of where I got the name for my blog (spoiler: it’s a castoff from a naming session with the Q crew).

I was similarly honored by a request from Thom Haller to write a little thing for the ASIS&T Bulletin special Information Architecture issue. You can read that piece on the ASIS&T site – it’s titled A Posting for a Job That Does Not Exist, based on a true story! The whole issue is packed with good stuff, including a piece about the relationship of IA research and IA practice by Andrea Resmini and Keith Instone.

Last but not least, this week saw the announcement of an ambitious (not to mention huge) panel at IDEA2010 that I’ve had the good fortune to help create. The title of the panel is (How Is This All) Going To Work, and the lineup of speakers is smashing. Philly. Tons of brilliant people. Autumn. How can this not be amazing?

19. August 2010 by dan
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Ignite Your UX Sales Pitch (from IUE2010)

Due to some choreographical issues, I was unable to attend the “Ignite Your UX Sales Pitch” session at IUE2010. The event organizers were very kind to show my slides in my absence – here they are in a PDF format if you’re curious to see what I came up with. Oh, and the original session description these slides were prepared for is as follows:

Ignite Your Sales Pitch!

A common refrain in the UX world is “But no one really *believes* in UX!” So how do you recruit believers? Or at least convince them to give you a chance to prove the value of UX?

Presenters are invited to share a 5-minute version of their UX sales pitch in a format using 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds.

03. August 2010 by dan
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Closing Keynote at IUE2010: The Nature of Information Architecture

Thank-you to everyone who stuck around for the closing keynote at Internet User Experience 2010 – it was an honor and real pleasure to share some of the work that I’ve been doing over the past year to such a warm and familiar audience.

Wurman's sand castles. @danklyn #iue2010  on Twitpic

You can download my slides here: click to access

Update: a newer, hopefully improved version of this talk is available here.

02. August 2010 by dan
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