Okay, this isn’t going to be a very lengthy post… or one that’s all that well thought out… but I wanted to get it down before I forgot it. Anyways, recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the work I’ve been doing at Urban Outfitters and what “label” it falls under. It’s also a question I get quite often (“what do you do there if it’s not just web design?”). So, with that in mind, I think I’ve come to understand the following…
Information Architecture (IA)
Information Architecture is pretty straightforward. Ultimately, it’s about organizing and prioritizing the information that will appear on a website (hierarchies, grouping of elements, structuring content, etc). And the final deliverable should be a pretty “basic” and easy-to-understand wireframe.
Interaction Design (IxD)
The best way I’ve been able to sum up Interaction Design is that it is “Blueprinting User Behavior”. It’s a combination of Information Architecture and Storyboarding. You tend to do the basic set of IA wireframes, but then add a set of storyboards to map out how users will interact with various features on the site. You may also even do some html prototyping of the interactive elements on the site just to get a “feel” for how these pieces will work.
User Experience Design (UX)
To me, UX Design is the PINNACLE of web design work. It not only encompasses Information Architecture and Interaction Design (and of course good old web design), but also Marketing, Copy, Branding, Customer Service, etc, etc. It’s everything that a user interacts with, and centered around (or related to) your website. So, for example, let us suppose you are shopping at an online store… and let us suppose you are buying something. From the order confirmation emails – to the copy on the site – to the design & features – to the way the product is packed and shipped… they ALL make up parts of User Experience Design. It’s A LOT to think about, plan for, and coordinate.
So, where does my work for Urban Outfitters fit in? Honestly, I’m still not sure. But my best guess (at this point) is 1/3 User Experience Design, 1/3 Web Design, and 1/3 Front-End Development.