Paul Rissen is Data Architect for BBC News Online. He answered few questions about information architecture and the interest for journalism.
What are you doing at the BBC ?
Dan Ramsden : I’m responsible for leading the ‘user experience architecture’ (UXA) discipline at the BBC. Part of this role is determining how we can best use information architecture – and what other skills the team should have to be most effective.
The UX team at the BBC is about 130 people. Most of these professionals have some familiarity with IA. It’s our job to support these colleagues, undertake the more challenging bits of IA thinking and spot opportunities for greater alignment and efficiency in the IA we design.
Is your job a new one ?
The BBC has had a IA/UXA for many years (over 10). But the leadership role is relatively new and was created in 2012.
Are you working with journalists ?
Personally I work with journalists occasionally, but we have a dedicated UXA working within our news product. They will work more closely with journalists. We also have a UXA in our internal tools team. They work with production colleagues including journalists to understand workflows and improve the tools our journalists use.
Why do you say you’re an User Experience Architect, and not an Information Architect and/or a UX Designer ?
I think it just reflects a broadening of the concerns of the role. I think every good information architect is also a user-centred designer – they consider the experience that their experience will give rise to. I’m not sure we can actually design experiences. I think we create stimuli which prompt and curtail experiences. Every user experience is unique, even if the designed stimulus is the same. So I much prefer the idea of architecting a ‘space’ in which experiences happen, rather than ‘designing an entire experience.’*
Do IA and UX Design have an important place in discussions about the future of news in the UK ?
I hope so. I do think there’s already a lot of ‘experts’ in the field of news. Journalists tend to consider themselves the experts in their subject matter, so earning the respect and right to shape their understanding of the medium of the web requires dedication and persistence. I think the more we rely of machine generated aggregations and data to relate bits of content, the more we need to understand the IA that underpins these processes. I also think there are interesting developments currently underway around desegregation of content from publishers to platform providers. Do the moves from Apple, Facebook and Google to try to build news aggregating platforms support or threaten impartiality, independence, editorial integrity? They certainly allow audiences to compare and receive news from multiple sources easily, but are there downsides to this too?
* Dan wrote about these question on his blog here and here
David Putney is “UI/UX, visual designer and front-end web developper in the Boston area. He is specialized in designing and building beautiful and functional media and content-driven websites”.
What was your work about this subject ?
I worked in newspapers for 20 years and the last seven or so doing web content and web development. I designed several websites for the Boston Globe, including Cruxnow.com, BDCwire.com and betaboston.com. Although that last one was only sorta me. I didn’t do the logo.
Does Information Architecture and UX Design have an important place in discussions about the future of news in the US ?
It should, but it has been my own personal experience that the thinking at newspapers is that they are important and that readers like them, so reader concerns and experience almost always takes second place to the newspaper’s goals.
I may be generalizing too much with this, but the discussion almost never centers on “who can we make this great for readers?” It’s more like “we already have our readers, what can we do to them and get away with? »
You seem to be very pessimistic about the design of online news. Why ?
All I can relate is my own experience. I don’t have a wide view of the entire industry, but I can say that everywhere I’ve worked was pretty much the same. It was my experience that UX takes a back seat to other concerns, as I said above. Newspapers are in an existential struggle. Their revenue is in terminal decline and the end game is that they go out of business. It’s my opinion that many of them will. The situation is that online doesn’t make anywhere near what print did and news organizations will do *anything* to squeeze some more money out. That means they will put Taboola ads with horrifying images on their pages. They’ll load pages with with ad trackers. They’ll include autoplay ads. They’ll throw up paywalls in front of readers. The thinking is very much “what can we get out of readers?”
My experience at the Globe was that it was a huge, siloed, bureaucratic, sclerotic, dysfunctional organization that was still enamored with its past glories. Places like that tend to not make good decisions.
To go further on the subject, read “The news business”, an article by Davis Putney
Dans le web depuis 1998, François Le Gall – producteur interactif chez Camera Talk Productions – nous raconte l’arrivée de l’UX design (design d’expérience utilisateur) dans ses projets webdocumentaires.
WeDoData est un studio de dataviz et datajournalisme, fondé par Karen Bastien et François Prosper. Je me suis entretenu avec Karen Bastien en juin 2015 sur la présence du design expérience utilisateur chez eux.
Le groupe Nice-Matin a mis en ligne la bêta de ses nouveaux sites nicematin.com et varmatin.com. L’objectif ? Inclure les internautes dans le processus d’amélioration en les faisant réagir sur un groupe Facebook. Damien Allemand, chef du service digital du groupe Nice-Matin, revient sur la démarche et la collaboration avec les internautes.
[Interview réalisée fin septembre]
This is the seventh interview of the « Ux & Journalism » series. Alexandra Schmidt is UX Designer. Before, she worked as a journalist.
Cette interview est la septième de la série « UX & Journalisme ». Retrouvez les autres dans la catégorie éponyme.
Alexandra Schmidt est UX designer et fut journaliste auparavant.
/! Interview en anglais uniquement.
Cette interview est la sixième de la série « UX & journalism ». Retrouvez les autres dans la catégorie éponyme. Journalism++ est une franchise d’agences de data-journalisme basées à Paris, Berlin, Cologne, Porto, Amsterdam et Stockholm. Les questions ont été envoyées à l’agence de Berlin, fondée par Nicolas Kayser-Bril, Anne-Lise Bouyer et Pierre Romera. Continuer la lecture de Journalism++ : « Nous utilisons les bonnes pratiques d’UX »
Cette interview est la cinquième de la série « UX & journalism ». Retrouvez les autres dans la catégorie éponyme.
Les Jours est « le nouveau média en ligne qui creuse ses obsessions au cœur de l’actualité et ne les lâche pas ».
Cette interview est la quatrième de la série « UX & journalism ». Retrouvez les autres dans la catégorie éponyme.
Flavien Plouzennec est ex responsable de la rédaction web de Nice-Matin. Il est aujourd’hui UX designer à Dublin.