Eric Reiss

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Eric Reiss in 2010

Eric Reiss (born 1954) is an American business and information architecture theorist, consultant and author, known for his work in the field of information architecture, usability, and service design.[1][2] In 2010, he was named in a blog as "One of the Top 10 European Content Strategists to Watch".[3] In 2019 he sued the Information Architecture Institute following being asked to step down due to multiple accusations of sexual harassment.[4][5]


Early life and education[edit]

Born in San Antonio, Texas in 1954, his family relocated to St. Louis prior to his first birthday when his father accepted a position at Washington University School of Medicine. Reiss is the son of two prominent physicians who played pivotal roles in bringing about the nuclear test-ban treaty of 1963 (see Linus Pauling "Activism"). His Viennese-born father, Eric Reiss, M.D., performed early and groundbreaking research on parathyroid hormone (PTH). His mother, Louise Zibold Reiss, M.D., as Director of the Baby Tooth Survey, was involved in mapping levels of radioactive Strontium-90 in the U.S. food chain secondary to nuclear fallout.[6][7] His family moved to the Chicago suburb of Highland Park in 1964. He was active in theatre and the performing arts while at Highland Park High School from 1968–1972. During this time, Reiss started restoring player pianos and jukeboxes. He formed his first company, Reiss Player Piano Service, at age 16.

Reiss returned to St. Louis to study at Washington University in St. Louis in 1972. A ragtime pianist, Reiss was Musical Director on the Goldenrod Showboat on the Mississippi River levee during much of 1975, where he also participated in the National Ragtime Festival along with Trebor Tichenor, Dave Jason, Terry Waldo, and the Black Eagle Jazz Band. In 1976, he received his BA degree, having studied Performing Arts and Political Science.

Career in Scandinavian theater world[edit]

After his graduation, Eric Reiss moved to Copenhagen, Denmark to become a stage director at the Royal Danish Theatre. He was originally apprenticed in the fall of 1976 to Danish director Sam Besekow, where he assisted with the production of Eduardo De Filippo's play Saturday, Sunday, Monday. In early 1977, Reiss was granted full director status by the theater. In 1977, his original play, Marionettes, was awarded first prize at the Illinois One-Act Play Festival.[8]

Following a 10-year career in the Scandinavian theater world, publication of the first Danish-language adventure game (Skabet),[9] and a short stint studying Egyptology, Reiss' first book, The Compleat Talking Machine (ISBN 1-886606-18-8) led to a career change in 1986 when he migrated from theater to professional writing.

Career in business-to-business communications[edit]

Reiss wrote the talking machine book, now in its fifth edition (10th printing).[10] Reiss has since worked almost exclusively in developing business-to-business communications materials and marketing strategies.

With the advent of PC-based multimedia in the late 80s and the World Wide Web a few years later, Reiss combined his knowledge of theater, communication, and computers to build interactive business tools. In early 1997, he developed an on-line communications concept for his employer, Cross-Border Communications. The resulting microsite, Rick's Cafe, was an interactive precursor to a blog and was subsequently voted Macromedia Site of the Week.

Reiss is currently CEO of the Copenhagen-based FatDUX Group ApS, which designs online and offline interactive experiences. He is a past president of the Information Architecture Institute, served as Chair of the European Information Architecture Summit - EuroIA from 2005-2014, and is on the Advisory Board of the Copenhagen Business School (Department of Informatics) and the Romanian Institute of Information Architecture. Between 2009-2011, Reiss was an Associate Professor of Usability and Design at IE Business School (formerly Instituto de Empresa) in Madrid, Spain, where he received several awards for his teaching, including the "Best Professor" prize in 2009.[11][12]

Personal life[edit]

Reiss is still active as a performer and musician, working regularly with Vivienne McKee's London Toast Theatre in Copenhagen. He was also a regular on the MTV-produced candid-camera show, Rent Fup, during the season 1998–1999. Other acting credits include the Danish film, Miraklet i Valby (1989) and off-screen dubbing for Lars von Trier's Dancer in the Dark (2000).

Reiss and his wife Dorthe make their home in Copenhagen, Denmark. He holds citizenship from Denmark, Germany, and the United States.


Eric Reiss at Polish IA Summit Warsaw, 2010.

Reiss is the author of Practical Information Architecture (ISBN 0-201-72590-8), Web Dogma '06.[13] and Usable Usability (ISBN 978-1118185476). He has also contributed to several other books and publications, including Designing Web Navigation (ISBN 978-0-596-52810-2), Pervasive Information Architecture (ISBN 978-0123820945), Designing the Conversation (ISBN 0-321-88672-0), Speaker Camp (ISBN 0-321-96112-9) and commentary to the online Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction.[14]

Reiss was President of the Information Architecture Institute for two terms and was a founder of the European Information Architecture Summit and served as Chair from 2005-2014 until he was asked to step down after multiple accusations of sexual harassment.[5] Reiss once publicly responded to certain complaints by stating on Twitter, “Would you believe that someone actually accused me of violating a code of conduct? Sexual harassment — because I said ‘tits.’” On March 20, 2019 Reiss filed a petition for discovery against the Information Architecture Institute. Judge Patricia O‘Brian Sheahan dismissed the motion.[15] On June 6, 2019 Reiss filed a general chancery claim in the Circuit Court of Cook County. The Information Architecture Institute as well as previous Information Architecture conference co-chairs, Colleen Chaflant, Nataniel Davis, Amy Jimenez Marquez, Stuart Maxwell, Bibiana Nunes, and Adam Polansky were issued summons to appear on July 1, 2019.[4]

In 2024, the User Experience Professionals Association awarded Reiss a Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was rescinded 11 hours after the announcement, and resulted in a public letter of condemnation and demand for certain reforms within the user experience community.

Selected publications[edit]

  • Reiss, Eric L. The compleat talking machine: a guide to the restoration of antique phonographs, 1986.
  • Reiss, Eric L. Practical information architecture: a hands-on approach to structuring successful websites. Pearson Education, 2000.
  • Reiss, Eric. Usable usability: simple steps for making stuff better. John Wiley & Sons, 2012.

Articles, a selection:


  1. ^ Resmini, Andrea, and Luca Rosati. Pervasive information architecture: designing cross-channel user experiences. Elsevier, 2011.
  2. ^ Haller, Thom. "Overview: Information architecture." Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 39.1 (2012): 8-8.
  3. ^ Boye, Janus. "10-european-content-strategists-to-watch" Archived 2021-02-01 at the Wayback Machine, Boye & Co, March 11, 2011. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
  4. ^ a b Reiss, Eric v. Information Architecture Institute (Cook County Circuit Court 06/28/2019), Text.
  5. ^ a b Wodtke, Christina "Tweaking the Moral UI" Archived 2019-01-26 at the Wayback Machine, A List Apart, December 16, 2014. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  6. ^ Hevesi, Dennis. "Dr. Louise Reiss, Who Helped Ban Atomic Testing, Dies at 90", The New York Times, January 10, 2011. Accessed January 10, 2011.
  7. ^ Sorkin, Michael D. "Louise Reiss: headed historic Baby Tooth Survey in St. Louis", St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 7, 2011. Retrieved January 10, 2011.
  8. ^ Chicago Tribune, August 28, 1977. "One-act plays have revival in Illinois" Not available online.
  9. ^ Infoseek, Sinclair "Skabet for the Sinclair Spectrum", Retrieved September 3, 2011.
  10. ^ Sonoran Publishing. "Compleat Talking Machine, 5th Edition", Sonoran Publishing. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
  11. ^ Resmini, Andrea. "El Pato y el Profesor" Archived 2011-08-29 at the Wayback Machine, FatDUX blog, March 29, 2009. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
  12. ^ Kiprin, Borislav. "Web Dogma 2006", Borislav Kiprin, April 6, 2010. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
  13. ^ Danzico, Liz "Dogmas are Meant to be Broken" Archived 2006-09-18 at the Wayback Machine, Boxes and Arrows, May 31, 2006. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
  14. ^ Hassenzahl, Marc "User Experience and Experience Design", Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction, Ongoing publication. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
  15. ^ Reiss, Eric v. Information Architecture Institute (Cook County Circuit Court 03/20/2019), Text.

External links[edit]