SXSW 2010: Sketching your own IA Process

by Chris Fahey ( & )

Data driven design

This is what people used to say was the way to work, and design. However, Real design is informed guesswork.” Be willing to take risks. Test. Make changes and learn from your mistakes.

Data-Inspired Design 

Is a better way to approach your designs

Mind Mapping:

Example: Asked a group of people what they did through the day, then tracked their behavior. From that data they created a time map infographic to help them find similarities between the people/users.

Create Personas: Figure out the different types of ideal users. Some examples would be:

  1. Temporary Visitors
  2. Occasional Repeat Visitors
  3. New Visitors
  4. Long-Term Users

A great example video about creating personas is:

Designers/Marketers should think of themselves more as “Researchers.”




"There Are No Templates"
"Try asking people what they DON’T want on their website/marketing"
"Ask how many patients/users they have"
"Brainstorm user personas"

Give your website/product/Interface it’s own persona/personality. An example he gave was a website that when you clicked on "forgot my password" another option pops up that says, "Just kidding I Remember Now."


Different types of Personas/Personalities/Styles:

  1. Editorial
  2. Dashboard
  3. Cinematic
  4. Flow

Basic idea is to try and attack a design in various ways.

3 different approaches to a design:

LISTENING: The Critique

Under Over Debate

First example was the “under over" debate. In other words it’s not about who’s right and who’s wrong, but rather think of it as personal preference, compromise, and team work.

You should have frequent check-ins with other people who are invested in the project. Maintain open communication between designers & copywriters throughout the entire process. Don’t think write or wrong, but rather different perspectives. "Prototype as if you are right. Listen as if you were wrong."

Things to remember:

  • Do research
  • Plan to change your plan
  • Think of your process as a story
  • Deliverables are for design team (not client)
  • Throw away the template (Don’t try the “same” things every time. Stop & try to invent something NEW)