Skills

Over 5 years and several dozen IA projects, I’ve developed a rigorous process that delivers effective, evidence based creative solutions. I’m proud that clients have never been less than happy with the quality of my work.

What is this process, and why are they so impressed?

Domain knowledge

To make recommendations that make sense and are effective, a good IA needs to understand the client’s business, including the often complex internal political landscape, as well as they do. Acquiring this domain knowledge can be the hardest part of a project.

Researching the healthcare industry, and the structure and politics of the NHS, for a recent project for the Healthcare Commission was particularly challenging. But my efforts paid-off: I read about relevant new legislation that caused me to broaden the target audience to include members of the public.

With my receptivity, eagerness to learn, and willingness to talk to people, acquiring domain knowledge is a process I enjoy and excel at.

Research

Who are your users and what do they want from your site? Only research with stakeholders and the target audience can fully answer these questions.

At the start of my work with the Royal College of Nursing I first used an online survey to research user demographics. Then I interviewed over 30 respondents about their usage patterns, goals and frustrations with the site. Next I composed detailed personas: portraits of the site’s typical users. These made clear the diverse behaviours that our solution needed to support, and provided a concrete guide from which to recruit user test participants.

Card sort and sitemap

Reorganising content, particularly in a large site, can rapidly grow out of control. By teasing-out how typical users naturally prefer to organise content, card sorting guarantees that the resulting site map will work for the broadest possible base of users.

For my work with NICE I conducted card sorting workshops with every main target audience. By aggregating the results I was able to create a navigation and labeling scheme that effectively directed users to what they were looking for.

As always, the sitemaps I then created laid out the structure with an easy-to-understand clarity.

Wireframing

To visualise a new web site, wireframes show pared-down versions of key pages with all the functional elements and correct labeling present, but none of the graphic design.

In my work wireframing the stakeholder mapping tool for the COI, authenticity and accuracy were vital to ensure functionality was water-tight. My attention to detail and systematic approach guaranteed that this was the case.

User testing

Refining a proposed architecture is the secret to good information design. By iterating to address the problems identified in usability testing, the creases in the user experience can be smoothed away.

I tested my sign-up process for holiday property rental company French Connections, with dozens of difficult-to-please silver surfers. The result was a conceptually complex journey broken down into simple, meaningful, easy-to-follow steps for the users, and a huge burden lifted from their admin team.

Done with my skills? Read IA case studies >