Elements and forces in IA | acidlabs
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Elements and forces in IA

Elements and forces in IA

As information architects, we’ve all seen Jesse James Garrett’s seminal Elements of User Experience diagram.

JJG’s Elements of User Experience

It’s the classic tool used to contextualise the material and environment IAs are working with when assisting in the development of projects designed for web-based delivery. And, it covers the full range of needs, from the very high overall business and user goals, right through the end delivery of the system.

On the other hand, not so many of us will have seen this.

Forces of User Experience

Now, this is interesting!

Not that I’m saying Jesse’s original diagram isn’t, but Richard Dalton’s Forces of User Experience re-imagining of Jesse’s original is a useful tool for getting a handle on the influences acting across all planes of user experience from the strategy plane.

In particular, I can see this version being useful in aiding IAs working at the strategic end of projects – unfortunately something that can happen all too rarely, but that should always be the case – understand and speak to the 40000′ view of user and business requirements. It also neatly illustrates that each plane in the elements acts upon the others – no one plane acts on a single other, and it’s not a serial set of elements or forces.

I think also, that it’s a useful tool in helping to imagine how senior management and other influentials whose work is entirely focussed on the strategy plane are thinking, and how us IAs might be able to help them understand what their thinking affects.

In my experience, the earlier an IA can get involved in a project and the more strategically they are able to think, the better the tactical approach to the other planes can be. Early, influential thinking can be the maker or breaker of a project.

Stephen Collins
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