A lot of the work I’ve been doing lately is under the heading of “Expert in User Experience” or “Information Architect” – which depending on who is in the room, depicts which title I’m being referred to as.
There have been a few clients who want to know… what the heck does all that mean exactly?
As soon as I give deliverables, it’s clear what it is that I’m contributing to the projects (and the response is usually pretty great), but until then… their interactions with me speak of a general “unsure but hopeful”.
I was curious to know – what did it look like if they looked up the titles (via the internet)? Especially the information architect title. What I found… didn’t exactly match what I did. To some degree, it matched, but quite largely – there were things that I was providing that went far beyond what others were doing who were titled “IA”, and some of what they were doing… I’d much prefer to not do very often!
So what the heck was I doing and what was it called? Well – I landed on IxD – interaction design. Taking psychology, a little bit of marketing magic, and coupling that together in design patterns which play nicely with the way the human mind works to prevent problems and increase understanding on a subconscious level – which, if done right, results in a boost in productivity and/or adoption/conversion rates. It’s part of what makes the iphone so intuitive that a 3 yr old can figure out the basics in under 2 minutes.
That sounds an aweful lot like UX, right?
Well the funny thing is, UX is a bigger picture than IxD. UX encompasses people on all fronts. Content strategy, Search Engine gurus, Business Dev, Business Strategists, IAs, IxDs, integrators, designers, developers, analytics experts(to name a few)… the whole kit-and-kaboottle. User experience is a whole-team operative which focuses on the entire experience. From the speed of content delivery, to the emotional output of the visuals and copy.
To me, UX is the bigger picture. It’s the words and how they’re delivered. It’s the unspoken promise delivered by quality technology. It’s the way the evangelists talk about their products and it’s the discussions that are had over a cup of coffee while a friend shares the cool new technology that’s been slapped on their wrist or installed on their smart phone. It goes beyond and yet is entangled with “brand identity”.
Interaction Design (IxD) is part of UX – but should be carefully presented to not confuse. IxD is not another way to say UX. It’s a gear whose cogs are interlocked with many other gears’ cogs.
I’m sure I’ll have more to post on this later…
What is UX to you? What about IxD?
Sub-note: This post was a direct response to a tweet posted by a friend and coworker.