My Interview on IATV Radio

I was honored to be interviewed by Jan Jursa for IATV Radio in his last episode. Check out the interview here:

IATV Radio: Show 011 – Four Shots

I’d like to follow up here with a few of the topics we covered in this post.


Jan asked me directly about changes in web navigation — or in navigation in general — that I’ve noticed since the arrival of the iPhone, in particular. For sure, Designing Web Navigation is not the most up-to-date book anymore. It’s 5 years old by now: an eternity in web years. Still, many of the principles of web design I laid out in the book apply.

But since 2007 I’ve been try to identify new navigation  patterns and capture them on my blog. Here ere are some relevant posts:

More importantly, I’ve been investigating and teaching faceted navigation quite intensively. See my extensive list of posts on faceted navigation.

There are many more important changes I’ve had on my radar as well, but I haven’t written about the yet.


I’ve been presenting, teaching and writing about alignment diagrams for the last two years. See my presentation from the Euro IA conference on Alignment Diagrams as well as a full-length article authored by Paul Kahn and myself called “Locating Value with Alignment Diagrams.” Most recently I published an article on Boxes and Arrows simply called “Alignment Diagrams.”

As Jan pointed out, I’ll be giving a workshop on alignment diagrams at the IA Konferenz in Essen, Germany on May 10. You can sign up for the half-day workshop on the conference website.

In the interview, we talked about how alignment diagrams help UX specialist do what I call “swim upstream.” By this I mean two things.

  1. First, we need to “swim upstream” in project timelines. Alignment diagrams really need to be done well before a project even starts.
  2. Second, alignment diagrams speak to a broader set of stakeholders. To be most effective, you should try to target them to the highest ranking audience you can.

A related topic I didn’t mention in the interview is that of the “air sandwich.” This is a term Nilofer Merchant uses in her book The New How (O’Reilly, 2009). It describes the disconnect between the top and bottom layers of an organization. Alignment Diagrams can help here, too. Read my post on the “air sandwich” and alignment diagrams for more on that.


If first got interested in innovation in reading the works of Everett Rogers’s and his diffusion of innovation theory. Since then, I’ve been reading, writing and presenting on various innovation topics. Here is a list of posts on this blog tagged with “innovation.”

Jan asked — and rightfully so — “why do we even need innovation? Why not just design and create great products that work?” It reminded me of a quote from Scott Berkun. I wasn’t able to cite the quote precisely in the interview, but I paraphrased it fairly accurately.

Here’s the full quote from Scott in an interview for UIE:

I think innovation is overrated. Customers don’t care about how innovative you are. They just want to be happy and satisfied. And that’s about good design.

The best advice I can give is to focus on people and their problems. Few great innovators worried about anything else. The fact that they found a new idea had more to do with their passion for solving someone’s problem than anything else. Innovation is a huge distraction these days. That’s one of the myths I hope people will understand how to dispel from reading the book or attending my seminars.

Strong words from someone who has spent years researching innovation. And I couldn’t agree more.

Thanks again, Jan, for having me on IA TV Radio.  

About Jim Kalbach

Head of Customer Experience at MURAL

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