Terms (A–Z)

information architecture

A design discipline that defines the structure of digital information spaces—including Web sites, intranets, online publications, applications, and other digital products—with the goal of supporting findability and usability. Information architecture encompasses the creation of taxonomies of the hierarchical and associative relationships that exist between content objects; controlled vocabularies that effectively communicate the nature of and relationships between content objects; labeling for navigation systems that makes information browsable; metadata, retrieval algorithms, and query syntaxes that produce useful search results; and the content and format of both individual search results and sets of results. Good information architectures make information easier to navigate, search, and manage, balance breadth and depth appropriately, and enable users to readily find the information that they need. Typical information architecture deliverables include content inventories, wireframes, site maps, and flow diagrams.—Pabini Gabriel-Petit

interaction design

A design discipline that defines workflows that support users’ goals and tasks, the affordances through which digital products and services communicate their functionality and interactivity to users, the ways in which users can interact with those affordances, products’ behaviors in response to user interactions, and the methods by which products indicate state changes. Good interaction design facilitates people’s performing tasks and ensures that digital products are both learnable and usable by reducing complexity as much as possible, preventing user error, adhering to standards when appropriate, and through achieving consistency across an entire product or product line. Typical interaction design deliverables include specifications, wireframes, usage scenarios, and prototypes.—Pabini Gabriel-Petit

user experience

Comprehends all aspects of digital products and services that users experience directly—and perceive, learn, and use—including products’ form, behavior, and content, but also encompassing users’ broader brand experience and the response that experience evokes in them. Key factors contributing to the quality of users’ experience of products are learnability, usability, usefulness, and aesthetic appeal.—Pabini Gabriel-Petit

user experience design

A holistic, multidisciplinary approach to the design of user interfaces for digital products, defining their form, behavior, and content. User experience design integrates interaction design, industrial design, information architecture, information design, visual interface design, user assistance design, and user-centered design, ensuring coherence and consistency across all of these design dimensions.—Pabini Gabriel-Petit