Understanding the Evolution of UX: Expanding Upon the Foundation of Information Architecture

  • Richard Saul Wurman’s 1989 book, Information Anxiety, became more popular and served as a go-to resource for those to seeking to learn more about the discipline and its inner workings.
  • Wurman also wrote the book Information Architects,” published in 1997. He was the first to coin the phrase “information architecture.”
  • First published in 1998 and currently in its 4th edition, published in 2015, Louis Rosenfield and Peter Morville authored what is arguably the most visible and most popular books on the subject of information architecture. Information Architecture: For the Web and Beyondbecame a staple for many early practitioners of the discipline and has even been used as a textbook for related courses.
  • In 2003, the first edition of Christina Wodtke’s “Information Architecture: Blueprints for the Web was published. This well-written book was another personal favorite of mine that helped me during the massive early years of self-taught learning experiences. Wodtke was a co-founder of the Information Architecture Institute — one of the first associations dedicated to the well-being and advancement of practitioners. NOTE: Unfortunately, the IAI was dissolved in 2019.
  • In 2011, Andrea Resmini and Luca Rosati wrote “Pervasive Information Architecture: Designing Cross-Channel User Experiences.” This book goes above and beyond by including coverage on such topics as multi-channel and cross-channel design efforts and consistency, both of which were not covered as much or with as much attention in the past and are both critical today. They also introduce the concept of “place-making,” which builds upon the IA-related concept of wayfinding.
  • In 2014, Abby Covert penned “How to Make Sense of Any Mess,” one of the easiest and most practical reads I have ever had the pleasure of perusing. One of the things I appreciate the most about this work is the holistic thinking reflected in its pages. I feel it does a fantastic job of going beyond the main subject to help challenge people to engage in greater levels of critical thinking.
  • Also in 2014, Andrew Hinton’s Understanding Context: Environment, Language, and Information Architecture was published. Like Covert and Resmini and Rosati, this book does a masterful job of delving into topics that provide additional insights into key IA-related topics such as context, perception, cognition, affordance, and the importance of understanding the environment, all of which are critical to optimal user experiences.
  • Our early and initial efforts were focused on information architecture and its products — nomenclature, taxonomies, and findability. This, coupled with brochure-ware sites sufficed in the earlier days of the Web.
  • It became quite obvious that one could not produce sound nomenclatures and taxonomies without considering heuristics and usability.
  • Building upon the evolutionary mindset, it became critical to validate design direction through formative and summative research methods and methodologies.
  • Elements of interaction design naturally integrated into workflows. After all, if there is an interface, there will be interaction; hence, best practices associated with interaction design needed to be considered in order to optimize experiences.
  1. Heuristics/Usability
  2. Information Architecture
  3. UX Research
  4. Interface & Interaction Design
The Landscape of UX (© 2016, Darren Hood. All rights reserved)


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UX Uncensored

UX Uncensored

Darren Hood: UX pro (27+ yrs), adjunct professor, TEDx and conference speaker, author (97 Things UX book), host of The World of UX podcast, & “pure UX” advocate