Episode 76 of The Informed Life podcast features a conversation with Dan Brown. Dan is the co-founder of EightShapes, a UX design studio based in Washington, D.C. He’s the author of Communicating Design, Designing Together, and Practical Design Discovery.

Our conversation focused on Dan’s Information Architecture Lenses, a deck of cards he created to help designers “interrogate IA decisions.” Why is such a deck needed? Because designers are missing a particular set of tools:

We’ve got tools that help us test IA, like tree testing. We’ve got tools that help us do some investigation, like card sorting. And everyone will talk about how they use spreadsheets to think about categorization. But I think the complexity and the abstractness of the spaces in which we work, make it difficult for us to really meaningfully have tools to help us do the work.

Dan’s cards are meant to encourage conversation — either between the designer and other people or between the designer and him- or herself. As Dan put it,

the intent is to give you that voice — to give you the voice of another designer who might look at this thing and ask these kinds of questions, because you’re too close to [the work] to ask them yourself.

The lenses have manifested in other media besides cards. Recently, Dan shared a series of interviews called “A Lens A Day,” which he released on YouTube and as a podcast. (I was honored to be part of the series talking about Inverse Implication.) These interviews offer fascinating perspectives on the state of information architecture in 2021.

And there’s more to come. In our interview, Dan offers a peek at what might be next for him and the lenses. If you’re intrigued by information architecture, it behooves you to listen to our conversation and buy a deck of Dan’s cards.

The Informed Life episode 76: Dan Brown on IA Lenses


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