Andy Fitzgerald

language + meaning + user experience architecture

A Cognitive Sciences Reading List for Designers

28 July, 2016
bookshelf with books

If you’ve ever done any contextual inquiry or usability testing, you’ve probably observed first hand the difference between what people say they will do and what they actually end up doing. Overlooked calls to action, bizarre navigation paths, mind-bogglingly irrational decisions — even the most sensible seeming users occasionally (or often) do things that “rationally” make little sense.

Which is to say that we all, on occasion (or often) do things that seem to make little rational sense.

And yet, on a day-to-day basis, this is how we successfully negotiate the complexities of our world. We use heuristics (aka rules-of-thumb) and limited...

In Pursuit of the Perfect UX Portfolio

7 November, 2015
portfolio home page

One of the more common questions I get from folks here in the Seattle UX community is about portfolios: How to create an effective portfolio? How much work should I show? What’s the one piece to include (for “x” job)?

I won’t pretend to have the perfect answers to these questions (hence the title “In Pursuit of…”). I don’t mind, however, sharing a few tips that I’ve found helpful in creating portfolios and interviewing and hiring folks based on them. As it happens, I’ve also recently finished a ground-up redesign of my own portfolio, so I can put some of...

Desiring Ecologies - Meaning-Making in the Network Wilderness

2 May, 2015

Here are the slides and a complete transcript of my 2015 Information Architecture Summit talk on information design for emerging organic networks. This is the latest iteration of a topic I had the honor and privilege to deliver at the Italian IA Summit in Bologna (as the Keynote talk), and at Seattle’s inaugural World IA Day event. In each of these cases, my goal was to explore how an ecological approach to information spaces can help us design more effectively in complex and unpredictable environments.

Talk Description

As networked information ecologies get more complex, interdependent, and unpredictable, designers must...

Architecting the Connected World

21 February, 2014

In the first two posts in this series, I examined the connection between information architecture and user interface design, and then looked closely at the opportunities and constraints inherent in information architecture as we’ve learned to practice it on the web. Here, I outline strategies and tactics that may help us think through these constraints and that may in turn help us lay the groundwork for an information architecture practice tailored and responsive to our increasingly connected physical environments.

The Challenge at Hand

NYU Media, Culture, and Communication professor Alexander Galloway examines the cultural and political impact of the Internet...

The Lingering Seduction of the Page

24 January, 2014

In an earlier post in this series, I examined the articulatory relationship between information architecture and user interface design, and argued that the tools that have emerged for constructing information architectures on the web will only get us so far when it comes to expressing information systems across diverse digital touchpoints. Here, I want to look more closely at these traditional web IA tools in order to tease out two things: (1) ways we might rely on these tools moving forward, and (2) ways we’ll need to expand our approach to IA as we design for the Internet...

Architecture, Design, and the Connected Environment

13 December, 2013

Just when it seems we’re starting to get our heads around the mobile revolution, another design challenge has risen up fiercer and larger right behind it: the Internet of Things. The rise in popularity of “wearables” and the growing activity around NFC and Bluetooth LE technologies are pushing the Internet of Things increasingly closer to the mainstream consumer market. Just as some challenges of mobile computing were pointedly addressed by responsive web design and adaptive content, we must carefully evaluate our approach to integration, implementation, and interface in this emerging context if we hope to see it become an enriching...

Language + Meaning + User Experience Architecture

19 August, 2013

There is an architectural concept called the “kitchen triangle” that I often use in talks and presentations. I use it to point out the difference between arguments and articulations of arguments. The gist of it is this: in order to create an effective kitchen, the sink, the stove and the refrigerator must each be placed no closer than 4 feet to each other, but no further than 9 feet apart. There must also be limited or no traffic through the center of the triangle.

In this example, the triangle is the argument: it presents a solution for how we use space...

Designing with Code

15 August, 2013

To code or not to code? For designers, that’s a very contentious question. Clients like designers who code because (among other reasons) that’s one less body on payroll. Design advocates, on the other hand, often see code as a technical limitation that stifles creativity. To make matters worse, the information ecologies we all work in refuse to stand still. By looking carefully at some of our favorite arguments, however – and by taking them within the context of our ever-evolving digital landscape – we can begin to make a case for when working in code makes sense.

Several years ago,

The Trouble with Systems

1 July, 2013

Much virtual ink has been spilled in the last year or two over the importance of thinking about information design in terms of systems as opposed to thinking of it as a set of carefully laid out maps.

In a 2012 blog post on Embodied Responsiveness, Andrew Hinton observed that “rather than trying to pre-program and map out every possible scenario, we need systems that respond intelligently by the very nature of their architectures.” Stephen Hay (Responsive Design Workflow, 2013) and Sara Wachter-Boettcher (Content Everywhere, 2012) have likewise called out the need to stop thinking about web design...


Hi. I’m Andy. I’m a user experience architect based in Seattle. You've found a little spot I've carved out to think and write about the connections between language, meaning, and user experience architecture. Please do have a browse around – and do leave a comment if anything you find here piques your interest.


Let's Connect

Want to work with me – or just reach out and say hi? Drop me a note or connect with me on the socials. I’d love to hear from you!

This site hand-made in beautiful Seattle, WA.