IAI Workshop for IASummit 2009: Beyond Findability

Now that the workshop has come and gone, I’m here to say that it went swimmingly, if I do blog so myself.

My colleagues did some great work — hopefully it’ll all be up on Slideshare at some point. But here are the slides I contributed. Alas, there are no “speaker notes” with these — but most of the points are pretty clear. I would love to blog about some of the slides sometime soon — but whenever I promise to blog about something, I almost guarantee I won’t get around to it. So I’ll just say “it would be cool if I blogged about this…” 🙂

Just one more blog plug for the workshop some of us are doing before the IA Summit in Memphis this year.

See the Pre-Con Page at the Conference Site.
Register Here

For those of you who may be attending the IA Summit in Memphis this year, let me encourage you to look into the IA Institute’s pre-conference workshop called “Beyond Findability: Reframing IA Practice & Strategy for Turbulent Times.”

A few things I want to make clear about the session:

– We’re making it relevant for any UX design people, not just those who self-identify as “Information Architects.” In fact, part of the workshop is about how different practitioner communities can better collaborate & complement other approaches.
– By “Turbulent times” we don’t just mean the economy, but the turbulence of technological change — the incredibly rapid evolution of how people use the stuff we make.
– It’s not a how-to/tutorial-style workshop, but meant to spark some challenging conversation and push the evolution of our professions ahead a little faster.
– There will, however, be some practical take-away content that you should be able to stick on a cube wall and make use of immediately.
– It’s not “anti-Findability” — but looks at what IA in particular brings to design *beyond* the conventional understanding of the practice.
– We’re hoping experienced design professionals will attend, not just newer folks; the content is meant to be somewhat high-level and advanced, but you should be able to get value from it no matter where you are in your career.

Here’s the quickie blurb:

This workshop aims to take your IA practice to a higher level of understanding, performance and impact. Learn about contextual models and scalable frameworks, design collaboration tactics, and how to wield more influence at the “strategy table.”

If you have any specific questions about it, please feel free to hit me up with an email!

*Note: the IA Summit itself is produced by ASIS&T, not the IA Institute.

Beyond Findability Seminar at IA Summit 2009

In case you were wondering which of the fabulous IA Summit 2009 pre-conference seminars to spend your hard-earned (or hard-begged) money on, look no further than “Beyond Findability: Reframing IA Practice & Strategy for Turbulent Times

It’s being presented by the IA Institute, and includes some very smart, experienced people in the UX/IA world: Livia Labate, Joe Lamantia and Matthew Milan. In addition, it includes little old me.

Hit that link to learn more about the workshop. I’m excited about it — we’ll be digging into some meaty subjects, and stretching our brains about IA. Yet we’ll manage to have lots of practical take-aways and fascinating conversations too.


In 2008 I had the distinct honor to present the closing plenary for the IA Summit in Miami, FL. Here’s the talk in its entirety. Unfortunately the podcast version was lost, so there’s no audio version, but 99% of what I had to say is in the notes.

NOTE: To make sense of this, you’ll need to read the notes in full-screen mode. (Or download the 6 MB PDF version.)

(Thanks to David Fiorito for compressing it down from its formerly gigantic size!)

Giving this talk at the IA Summit was humbling and a blast; I’m so grateful for the positive response, and the patience with these still-forming ideas.

If you’re after some resources on Communities of Practice and the like, see the post about the previous year’s presentation which has lots of meaty links and references.

Personas and the Role of Design Docs up at B&A

So, my article is up… thanks to all the excellent editors who pushed me to finish the dang thing over the last seven months. Procrastination is a fine art, my friends.

Personas and the Role of Design Documentation – Boxes and Arrows

Here’s a nugget:

A persona document can be very useful for design—and for some teams even essential. But it’s only an explicit, surface record of a shared understanding based on primary experience. It’s not the persona itself, and doesn’t come close to taking the place of the original experience that spawned it.

Without that understanding, the deliverables are just documents, empty husks. Taken alone, they may fulfill a deadline, but they don’t feed the imagination.

Edited to Add:

Already I’m getting some great feedback, and I’m realizing that I may not have made things quite clear enough in the article.

The article is meant as a corrective statement, to a degree. I focus so strongly on what I see as the *first* priority of methods and documentation in design work—shared artifacts for the design process, because I think this has gotten lost in the conventional wisdom of “documents for stakeholders.” So, I amped up my point in the other direction, trying to drag the pendulum more toward the center.

I was careful to point out that stakeholder communication is also, of course, a very important goal. But it is a SEPARATE goal. It may even require creating separate deliverables to achieve!

We too often get caught up in using documentation as a tool for convincing other people, rather than tools for collaborative design among the practitioners. I may have overstated my case, though, and, alas, obscured these caveats I scattered throughout.

In short: I wanted to emphasize that personas are first and foremost the act of empathetic imagination for design; and I wanted to emphasize that all design documentation is first and foremost an artifact/tool for collaborative reflection, shared understanding and iteration. As long as we remember these things, we can then go on to make all the persona descriptions and slick stakeholder deliverables we want and need to get the rest of the job done.

Maybe I should’ve used that “in short” statement in the article? But, I guess if I’d kept revising, it’d have taken me another six months!

Please do keep the feedback coming, though. Mostly, I’m wanting to spark conversations like these!

UX Week 2007

UPDATE: See this one on SlideShare. You need to see it full-screen to read the notes.

This is my official plug for the Adaptive Path UX Week in Washington, DC, August 13-17.

I’ll be speaking on Monday, on User Experience Design as set of Communities of Practice. Basically, an abbreviated and somewhat tweaked version of what I presented at the IA Summit this year.

Hey, DC in August! I hear the hotel has excellent air conditioning 🙂