Emotion has always played a role in how humans make sense of the world, yet taxonomies, categorization and information architecture practice tend to privilege logic over affect. While UX methods like card sorting and tree testing don’t necessarily dictate to users what criteria they must use to create categories and arrange content (especially if its open or hybrid card sorting), these methods are still generally considered quantitative and encourage users to think logically, especially if asked to reason out how or why they sorted content in a particular way. However, this privileging of logic in human sense-making and thus of information architecture and design has always been limited, and the compounding effects of a global pandemic; rises in racist violence and oppression against trans folks; limits on reproductive freedom; and the ever-increasingly impossible-to-deny degradation of our natural environment and the effects of climate change only make the limits of this view all the more obvious.
In this talk, we’ll discuss what it might look like to not only abide or allow for emotion in information architecture, but account for it, embrace it, and actively seek it out. What would an IA of joy look like? Or sorrow? Of rage? Of justice or radical empathy? I’ll include some examples of conducting UX interviews, card sorts and other quantitative and qualitative UX methods in ways that intentionally mine for emotional and affective states, as well as practical methods for mapping these out and translating them into actionable data and designs that reflect more resonant and human IA and systems.
About the speakers
Ashley Brewer is the Senior Web and UX Librarian for Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries. She has 10 years of experience in web and enterprise technology development and UX research and design in libraries and higher education. Critical UX is foundational to her approach, seeking to center inclusion, belonging, accessibility and reparative justice in the design and development cycle and to be continually reflective and responsive about UX tools, methods and practice. She writes, speaks and presents on CritUX; human-centered design; mindful relationships with technology; and innovative organizational strategies to foster a “culture of UX,” to meet organizations where they are in incorporating UX-thinking and practice. Grounded by her background in the arts and humanities, she’s a skeptical technologist and a gentle gadfly.