A Miracle at Christmas

When it gets to this time of year I start thinking about what I’ve achieved in the last 12 months, and what the next year might hold.

I’m not a great believer in New Year’s resolutions. But I thought it might be fun for us all to take part in an experiment that should commit us to making a change to the way we do UX in 2017.

Personally, I’d like everyone in UX to make 2017 the year when they think a little more often, and for a little longer, about the information architecture in their design.

Information architecture exists in every design. Every time we define the objects and stuff in our design we’re producing information architecture. But this ontological thinking—identifying the objects and the parts in play—is only the beginning of thinking like an IA.

The next stage of IA involves thinking about the relationships. How can those things and parts be connected to build systems, services and ultimately experiences that are greater than the sum of their parts?

Once we’ve thought about ontology (the things) and taxonomy (the relationships) we can start to consider the way the parts interact, move and are used by our audiences.

We’ve all got some responsibility for information architecture. Experts should do the hardest and most complex IA thinking. But spotting the opportunities for these experts to work on, and listening to them when they’ve done their work is a responsibility we all share.

So as we head into 2017 I want to make you a deal. I’ve designed a little experiment, and if the experiment works I want you to commit to considering at least one principle of information architecture in 2017 – although you should think about all four.

To take part you’ll need to download my ‘IA Christmas card’.  Print it out to make an IA Christmas card and then press play on the video below to follow my instructions.

The video is 7 minutes long, but please stick with it. Hopefully the end will bring you a bit of IA Christmas magic.



  1. Download the IA Christmas Card
  2. Print it out (or sketch your own copy)
  3. Follow along with the video below
  4. Tada!


Dan Ramsden

Dan Ramsden

As Creative Director for UX architecture (UXA) at the BBC, Dan leads a team of IA specialists. He’s responsible for defining the professional practice of UXA at the BBC and ensuring that the organisation is creating information architecture that delivers the best possible experiences to its editors and audiences. Dan has previously worked for agencies and ran a theatre company. He now designs labels, vocabularies, URLs, navigation, strategies and processes. He lives just outside Sheffield (UK) with a wife, a child and a cat called Rosa.

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