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TUG is Growing … and Growing!

Somesh Rahul, information architect

Somesh Rahul is an information architect at The Understanding Group

We’d like to introduce you to our newest information architect, Somesh Rahul. He began working with us over a year ago as an intern while completing his Master of Information Science degree at the University of Michigan. We’re thrilled he accepted our full time offer.

We’re also continuing to grow, and we are looking for new team members. Our most pressing need is for a User Experience Researcher, but we’re also looking for information architects of all levels of experience to work in our Ann Arbor or Grand Rapids office. If you are a collaborative, team player who is passionate about using information architecture to improve user experience, please send us an email at describing why you’d like to join our team, and include a resume (or link to your LinkedIn profile).

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Milanese Website Built with Understanding

a headshot of Kaarin Hoff

by Kaarin Hoff

On a stroll through Milan, Italy, Kaarin gets a taste of “la dolce vita,” and marvels at how an Italian department store’s website embodies the essence of its customers’ desired shopping experience.

Read more about how an Italian department store understands its customers’ values.

Smart Chainsaw Juggling: Is Your Company’s Complexity Essential, or Just Artificial?

a headshot of Daniel O'Neil

by Daniel O’Neil

We all need to deal with complexity. But not all complexity is created equal. In this article, Daniel explores the difference between essential complexity—which is there because it serves a purpose—and artificial complexity—which doesn’t (although maybe it did at one point, but not anymore).

Read more about how you can distinguish essential business complexity from the artificial with models.



a headshot of Dan Klyn

by Dan Klyn

Dan draws upon the oeuvre of Richard Saul Wurman’s work for his talk at the first GIANT Conference (and in doing so, gives a preview of his book, Five Patterns from the work of Richard Saul Wurman, to be released in spring 2015).

What’s RSW’s secret to making things be good?


On Making Meaning

Meaning is at the center of what TUG does. We found these articles interesting in relation to each other: each author discusses an approach to the creation of meaning, some with pictures, some with symbols, others with words and color.

17 Skeuomorphs That Show Retro Is Always In

by Judith B. Herman

Seeing Herman’s pictures of real-life skeuomorphs—something that creates meaning by both referencing and standing in for something else—we can’t help but remember Marshall McLuhan’s law of media: while each new medium retrieves some prior one, it also sends it into obsolescence. Check out these design throwbacks and how they act as shortcuts to meaning.

Remembering, as an Extreme Sport

by Benedict Carey

Extreme memory athletes universally use “memory palaces” for remembering, thereby demonstrating how humans visually create mental places to store and retrieve information. This practice illustrates Richard Saul Wurman’s observation that, “the only way you understand something is in relation to something you already understand.” Read more about how some people use “knowledge as scaffolding” for memorization.

Brand Design: Using Semiotics to Build Memorable Brand Experiences

by Dyfed “Fred” Richards

Richards discusses how semiotics–the use of signs and symbols to convey meaning–is used in branding. The trick, he says, is to know when to use conventions without becoming a cliche. Read more about how category conventions convey meaning.

The Container Model and Blended Content

by Nick Haley

For its new beta site, The Guardian starts with content: “With the container model, we move away from thinking about specific pages on the site and how they might be filled with content; instead we start first with the content and each page is simply seen as a series of containers.” Learn more about their new content curation and presentation.

I’d Hire an English Major over a Unicorn Any Day

by Thomas Wendt

In this article, Wendt weighs in on the unicorn debate, offering an alternative take on the contentious issue: Maybe the real unicorns aren’t designers who code, but rather designers who “can think on the level of systems, culture, and meaning.” Is it time to rethink the unicorn?


UX Thursday – Detroit

June 26 – Detroit
Ducks, Weenies, and Decorated Sheds by Dan Klyn

UX Strat

September 7-9 – Boulder, CO
Strategy and Structure: Doing It Right, and How You’d Know
by Dan Klyn


September 25-26 – Chicago
Because of McLuhan by Dan Klyn


Find out how you can put the what before the how on your next website redesign or e-commerce optimization project.

Contact Bob Royce at today to learn how information architecture can bring structure to your world and understanding to your site visitors.

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