UI, UX, IA and Gamification in Context

Everything we use – including software applications, machinery/equipment, and processes/services – has a User Experience (UX) component. The user experience of a product or service is what the user feels, thinks and experiences in the course of interacting with this product or service.

The UX universe encompasses the two disciplines of User Interface (UI) design and Information Architecture (IA).

UI is concerned with the mechanics of HOW the user would interact with the product or service. It takes into account issues of accessibility and usability (manifested as controls such as buttons and levers), and new disciplines like Gamification (manifested as engagement mechanisms such as earning points, comparing scores and enjoying rewards.)

AI is concerned with how information is structured and organised. It is about WHAT information is on offer. IA affects the ability of users to comprehend the content inherent in a service or product, as well as to create cognitive wayfinding maps through the content. IA is especially relevant to information systems where landmarks are virtual and intangible. Having said that, it also has a place in product design - the IA of a microwave oven’s menu system can directly affect its usability for example.