Hey Otwell responds to the Learning From The Sims article that opens with a slam at IA. We […]

Hey Otwell responds to the Learning From The Sims article that opens with a slam at IA.

We were discussing this at the IA Cocktail hour. Turns out an IA had written to her and discovered the author had had a bad experience with a certain “east coast firm” that left her with a bad taste of IA in her mouth. I’ve heard other stories about these people who have terrorized clients and designers with their auteur behavior. They are giving IA’s a bad name as bullies who push others around with their jargon and attitude. I’m sorry to say we occasionally see this in certain west coast firms also…

You know who you are.

Cut it out.

1. The client knows their business. Really. You didn’t go to business school. You didn’t spend x years studying hardware or book auctions or teen clothes buying habits. You may have spent a week in discovery doing so, but your client probably still knows more. Listen to them closely. Respect their opinions. If you disagree, instead of fighting try listening and asking questions.

2. The designers know their business. They went to design school. They came to the company and have probably lived through a few redesigns. Again, listen to what they are saying. They may know why you “just can’t use a dropdown menu there”. Collaborate. If designers understand how choices were made in your architecture, they will reflect that in their designs. If they don’t, they’ll do as they see fit– as they should.

3. You know your business. You have no need to show off by using a web of complex words. If a client doesn’t know what a heuristic is, go ahead and call it an expert review. Don’t say, “we’re going to do a cognitive walk through” say “we’re going to walk through each part of your site and write down any problems we think visitors to your site will have.” Same for wireframes, taxonomy, conceptual model…

4. Educate, don’t dictate. Never say “that’s how it has to be,” take the time to explain how you came to your decision. If you dictate, what happens when you leave the project? The client is left with a bunch of mysterious documents they never really understood. I’ve heard a lot of IA’s pondering why client x never used their solution for this or that… there are probably a lot of reasons for that, but I’ll bet one is they never really understood why the solution the architect came up was a good one.