Research Methodology


The world is complex. Information is subjective. Customer Experience is key.

"Information is going everywhere, bleeding out of what we thought was cyberspace and back into the real world: increasingly, many tasks we perform every day not only constantly require us to move between different media, but actually have us move from the digital to the physical environment and back. Computation is everywhere, and so are search and interaction. It's time to move beyond the computer screen to design information spaces in these new ubiquitous ecologies.” 
                                                    — A. Resmini & L. Rosati (2009)

Nowadays webs, mobile applications and products are the everyday challenge of a big community of professionals: information architects, user experience designers, web developers, developers, digital marketers, social media experts, visual designers, among others. What do they have in common? They are responsible for the experience of users and customers in complex information ecosystems.


About happiness

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines:

Hap·pi·ness noun \ˈha-pē-nəs\
> the state of being happy
> an experience that makes you happy.

"All men seek happiness. This is without exception. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. This is the motive of every action of every man, even those who hang themselves."
— B. Pascal (1623-1662)

We all want to be happy... It may seem cheesy (perhaps even wrong) to talk about happiness, because everyone has a different interpretation. So how, exactly, do we go about it? When you search for happiness as a topic in TED Talks, the definition changes depending on if a psychologist, a journalist or a monk answers.  So, depending on the topic and context, it's possible to define a happiness framework.

We are inspired by the following concepts:

  • “… badly designed devices can induce frustration and anger, a feeling of helplessness and despair, and possibly even hate. Well-designed devices can induce pride and enjoyment, a feeling of being in control and pleasure—possibly even love and attachment.”
        — Don Norman (The Design of Everyday Things, 2013)
  • The idea of Martin Seligman, Ph.D.'s Well-being Theory. This theory considers these to be the main elements for a person's well-being: Positive emotion, engagement, positive relationships, meaning, and accomplishment.
"Well-being theory is plural in method as well as substance: positive emotion is a subjective variable, defined by what you think and feel. Meaning, relationships, and accomplishment have both subjective and objective components, since you can believe you have meaning, good relationships, and high accomplishment and be wrong, even deluded. The upshot of this is that well-being cannot exist just in your own head: well-being is a combination of feeling good as well as actually having meaning, good relationships, and accomplishment. The way we choose our course in life is to maximize all five of these elements." 
— Martin Seligman, 2011

Research Goals

1. Information Architecture and Happiness

The IA Institute defines IA as

  1. The structural design of shared information environments.
  2. The art and science of organizing and labeling web sites, intranets, online communities and software to support usability and findability.
  3. An emerging community of practice focused on bringing principles of design and architecture to the digital landscape.

This research explores what the relationships and links between Information Architecture and Happiness are in these three spheres.

The Shared Information Environment

Characteristics of happy environments, exploring how to avoid pain points and how to design for engagement.

How user engagement and happiness are measured.

About the Art & Science of IA Practice

How IA is involved in projects in today's complex environment. 

  • What kind of complexity - 'mess' affects a project and how teams deal with it.
  • Can we find IA in Lean or Agile environments?

  • Which elements are used to bring consensus to the project mess.

  • Which tools are used to define strategy.

  • Which tools define/design the solution.

  • What is the most difficult part.

The Professionals

  • How happy is the IA community 
  • What makes an IA happy
  • Are IAs happier than other designers or creators or innovators ( Users / customers / consumers, IA, UX, Developers, Product Managers, Innovators)

We have divided the research in 3 surveys, one for each IA sphere. Let's see which sphere attracts more participants.  

The connection between these 3 spheres is made in how happiness is measured in information environments, and how that affects feelings of accomplishment and meaningfulness.

2. Does a heterogeneous community share the same views?

The community of professionals dedicated to building shared information spaces is very heterogeneous. We are wondering how many professionals know about IA. 

We also want to explore where the differences between the points of view are: about the indicators of a happy information environment, the way of working, or how the work we do affects us personally.

Online Survey Methodology


The target population is heterogeneous and broad, so it's difficult to measure. As we try to reach professionals, we have selected active groups around the globe to invite them to participate. 

IA and UX Forums - Communities

Innovation Forums/communities

  • @iainstitute (13.079)
  • IA Institute LinkedIn group (7900 members)
  • @IxDA (35.540)


Product & Startup Forums - Communities

  • GA?
  • @MindTheProduct


How we can visualize how many participants we have??

How many posts we have done??

What we do with people that are in several communities?! (manage url origin)

3 surveys.

Each survey covers one of the 3 spheres of the IA definition.