When you cross the bridge from research and strategy into design, the landscape shifts quite dramatically. The emphasis moves from process to deliverables, as your clients and colleagues expect you to begin producing a clear, well-defined information architecture.
This can be an uneasy transition. You must relinquish the white lab coat of the researcher, leave behind the ivory tower of the strategist, and forge into the exposed territory of creativity and design. As you commit your ideas to paper, it can be scary to realize there’s no going back. You are now actively shaping what will become the user experience. Your fears and discomforts will be diminished if you’ve had the time and resources to do the research and develop a strategy; if you’re pushed straight into design, as is too often the case, you’ll be entering the uneasy realm of intuition and gut instinct.
It’s difficult to write about design because the work in this phase is so strongly defined by context and influenced by tacit knowledge. You may be working closely with a graphic designer to create a small web site from the ground up. Or you may be building a controlled vocabulary and site index as part of an enterprise-level redesign that involves more than a hundred people. The design decisions you make and the deliverables you produce will be informed by the total sum of your experience.
In short, we’re talking about the creative process. The information architect paints on a vast, ...