In information architecture (IA) and user experience (UX) discussion lists there are bursts of manic activity that periodically break out. Hundreds of posts a day flood the lists; many of them at odds with each other and some quite angrily so. What is it that causes these periodic convulsions? DTDT.
It stands for ‘defining the damn thing’. Every so often some brave soul sticks his or her head over the parapet and launches a grenade in the form of either an attempted definition of IA/UX or questions a previous definition and a rapid chain reaction then occurs. Personally I think that it is incredibly difficult to define IA and UX as applied to web based activities as the requirements for IAs and UX professionals can vary greatly from case to case. This may in some part be due to –
- Each website design may have some unique features
- Drivers may be different for each site
- Clients expectations for deliverables may vary widely
- Ways of working may differ widely from company to company. What an IA or UX does in one agency may be very different to what’s expected in another
- Influencing factors in the environment may also vary greatly
- As IA and UX design are fairly new disciplines an overall consensus with regard to best practice in many areas has yet to be reached
I think that’s why the favourite answer that many IAs give to general questions is ‘It depends….’
But what about defining what we do with intranets? Could such a definition more easily include information architecture and user experience activities ? I think it’s a possibility. So wish me luck as I’m now going to stick my head over the parapet.