What? It should never be versus. One is no more important to the User Experience (UX) then the other. It should be Information Architecture (IA) AND Interaction Design (IxD). It seems that Information Architecture (and of course Look and Feel) is always at the forefront of the conversation when we discuss User Experience. Interaction Design appears to be more of an afterthought, something that just kind of happens when we roll over to the production phase, you know, “we can play with it later to see what works.”
In practice they should both be considered and planned for from the onset of a project. They need to be thought-out as something that is co-dependent. We need them to relate to one another and be in complete harmony. If this is achieved we will create a rich, meaningful and effective experience for our users.
Also, there is a lot of upside for the project stakeholders. They will see higher conversion rates, lower costs of acquisitions and increased customer loyalty. Not only will it create more revenue, but there will be a cost savings when it comes to development and maintenance — larger profits. As you can see there is a huge advantage when addressing this early on in a project.
Sounds good right, but what is the best way to cement this relationship? First off, you need be a strong advocate for this philosophy and talk about it in your initial meetings. Put it on the table and start that conversation as early as possible. You will find after you have made your case that the buy-in will be there, once again — larger profits for the stakeholders.
So, the decision makers have bought-in, now it is time to create this Zen-like-harmony. We have our models and task flows fleshed out — for the most part. Sketches are being produced. Conversations are started. We are gathering great feedback. There is a lot of positive back and forth. Now it is time to create the wireframes. This is where the real magic happens.
One of the best ways to build the relationship between IA and IxD is within the wireframe. Although both IA and IxD are being thought of early on, the wireframe gives us the opportunity to visually communicate our: structure, information layout, work flows, behaviors, use cases and how they relate.
Most times when wireframes are being produced they do not take into consideration Interaction Design. At least not to the depth and scope they should. But of course, as we mentioned earlier, Interaction Design is usually left out of the conversation until much later — an afterthought. By adding a little more depth in our wireframes we will be able to achieve this blissful union.
Our users will be happier for it. Our stakeholders will be wealthier for it, and just maybe we might get a pat on the back for it. But that is all right if we don’t, because we know that we have made the world a better place because of it. After all we are saving the world one application at a time!