Making the complex clear. Shaping structures of communication. Arranging the parts so that they, and their whole, have meaning. This is the vital work of information architecture.
IA is central to my lens and process as a UX professional. And I can hardly talk about IA without also talking about content strategy. Together, these disciplines weave throughout my work. Here are a few examples.
Site and app architectures
I led the creation of new underlying structures for UPMC Health Plan’s member app and member website, from early conception to go-live implementation. Along the way, I secured buy-in and nurtured collective vision for strategic, evidence-based overhauls of how these digital places were organized, navigated, and named.
Content inventorying and auditing
Navigation and menu design
Once launched, the new architectures changed users’ relationships and behaviors with these products, impacting content findability, content usage, ease-of-use perceptions, and frequency of product usage.
In 2018, I choreographed a rollout to introduce UPMC Health Plan’s new design system, nicknamed “Orchid.” Our campaign included a series of newsletter-style emails leading up to and celebrating launch, informal Q&A sessions with teams with a stake in Orchid, and a roadshow with company leadership. The rollout sought to capitalize on interest and energy surrounding Orchid, while also educating about the nature and vision of a design system for UPMC Health Plan. The Orchid Design System is now in its third design cycle, with a dedicated and growing team.
In 2017, while serving as the UX lead of UPMC Health Plan’s member app, I shaped and guided decisions about how to deliver the right content to the right audiences. Our research and strategy work resulted in more tailored experiences for our Medicare, Medicaid, Commercial Group and Commercial Individual members.
In 2015, I served as content editor on the volunteer team of the 2015 Information Architecture Summit in Minneapolis. Working in this role under Content Strategist Carrie Hane, I was responsible for all conference web and social media content. I worked with content contributors, wrote and scheduled updates, planned a calendar of blog posts, and pushed to deliver information that would drive registrations and make for better attendee experiences.
As my teammate Rachel Alberico and I worked on a new homepage for UPMC Health Plan’s member site, it was one of our principles to approach decisions in a “content first” way. We ideated with real data and content wherever possible, and we recognized that the redesigned interface would live or die with the quality of its backstage content governance.
Toward that end, we drafted and shared guidelines for partners, contributors, and stakeholders. The guidelines helped introduce the new homepage template, and they acted like a user’s manual. First, they could direct the generation and publishing of content. And second, they could be a reference for decision-making when changes were requested or suggested.
The guidelines were a hit with collaborators across departments. “This is extremely helpful,” one from Marketing told us. “I really appreciate this. I also like the idea of a ‘user manual’ for stakeholders. That will be much easier to point to and reference.”
From macro to micro, I’ve been responsible for brainstorming, drafting, revising, editing, guiding, polishing, and publishing lots of different written content.
For interfaces: headlines, taglines, button and link text, menus, error messages, descriptions, tooltips, calls to action, all manner of microcopy
For products and services: body text, descriptions, and explanations for complicated insurance, wellness, employee-assistance products, events, programs, and services
For my teams: principles and values statements, job descriptions
Modeling and Mapping
Because good models and maps are priceless.