image credit: Kate loves Bar Pt
I recently came across an article that had me questioning the validity of my position as an Experience Architect. A San Francisco-based Interaction Design Firm, Cooper (a la Alan Cooper) asked “Is Interaction Design a Dead-End Job?”
In fact, discussion around these topics has heated up of late. Jesse James Garret, the infamous experience designer who coined the term “Ajax,” recently made the bold statement that Information Architects (IAs) or Interaction Designers (IxDAs) do not exist. So where does that leave people like me who hold title of Senior Experience Architect on our business cards?
Both Cooper and Garrett arrive at the same conclusion. We’re User Experience Professionals with titles such as User Experience Designer/Architect/Planner … However you spin it, we think about the experience.
So what exactly does this mean?
Interaction Design as function is certainly not dead. Information Architecture as a function is also alive and well. The scope, however, has changed/expanded, and the functions are performed by more than just IAs or IxDAs. As a Senior Experience Architect, I work closely with and am sometimes mistaken for an Interaction Designer. An Experience Professional considers a task and all the touch points between a user and a technology. Our goal is to plan a seamless, intuitive experience from beginning to end. This entails structure, flow, and navigation. We also look at any interactive elements and try to make them obvious.
Lately, I’ve been following Dan Klyn who, among his many interesting observations, compares our architecture craft to that of a real architect. He quotes Walter Gropius who says, “Architecture is a mastery of space.” So, the question Klyn asks is, “User experience design implies a mastery of __________?”
I submit that it still implies a mastery of space, but the definition of space is expanded. Good architecture considers the structure, the space, how one enters and what one experiences in the space. Emotion and art is involved. Comprehensive architectural design affects the structure, way finding, interior design and emotion.
A writer might see my role differently than a designer. An engineer surely sees my work differently than a project manager. But, when done successfully, experience architecture serves all of their needs.
How do you define Information/Experience Architecture? Do you think it’s here to stay?