Round Up from IA Summit 2006

Just got back from lovely Vancouver where I attended the IA Summit 06 (Mar 23-27). I really meant to blog during the event. But I always found someone interesting to talk to or somewhere lovely in Vancouver to explore. I was also on a panel discussing Challenges to Wireframing with Rich Internet Applications.

As a quick aside, I do not believe I have visited a friendlier city. Smiling, friendly, helpful and always accommodating. And what an incredibly beautiful city. The 2010 Winter Olympics will be there as well as just north in Whistler. I got a chance to drive half-way to Whistler to the lovely town of Squamish. Mountains, sea, waterfall-- splendid beauty.

Ok now back to the summit.

Big Thoughts
So not really sure I came away with a lot of new revelations. But several ideas were reinforced.

  • Make good design viral
    Not his words, but my take from Jared Spool's talk on the Role of IAs in User Experience: The best organizations propogate good design by education & adminstration rather than by review or consulting. Both consultation & review become bottlenecks. I have often been in centralized groups (as I am now at Yahoo!) and I find that sharing knowledge and creating many avenues for sharing best practices to be the secret to new and wonderful ideas forming. Here were some of his tips:
    • Have a clear vision of success
    • Disseminate user knowledge and feedback quickly
    • Use design problems as teachable moments. People that find problems get kudos.
    • Make collecting feedback inexpensive
    • Share learning
    • Make good design the path of least resistance
  • Embrace Change
    I didn't really hear anyone say this but there are some in the Information Architecture community that are a little fearful of the changes that are happening with the move from content being central to interaction being more central. I say to them go read Who Moves My Cheese? and go embrace change. Jared mentioned that if you are going to be an IA specialist you will need to find companies large enough to have an economy to support your specialization. [hey there are folks who only do surgery on the hand-- they are needed but are not abundant.] And let me clarify one point. The skillset of IA is just as needed now as ever. It is the specific narrow role I am speaking of.
  • It's About the Community, Stupid
    The term mentioned by Rashmi Sinha was Social Information Architecture. This is the understanding the information must be crafted/architected in a way that can be virally manipulated by social networks. It gets to the heart of the thought the experience is not just the computer human interaction but the interaction between humans enabled by technology. This is also the thought behind David Weinberger's book, Small Pieces Loosely Joined (he gave the keynote).
Great Talk
Has to go to my fellow Yahoo!s, Kevin Cheng and Jane Jao. They presented on Communicating Concepts Through Comics. Kevin is one half of the wonderful ok/cancel site (the other have is Tom Chi also at Yahoo!). It was a fun talk that showed how storyboarding with comics can communicate user scenarios in a way that engages the complete product team as well as users who participate in reading the comics and commenting on the storyline. It is a great technique for fleshing out the conceptual phase & features of a product.

Kevin and Jane also gave an all day workshop and taught people how to draw simplified comics. I dropped in at the end of the day and was really impressed with some of the comics I saw. (I will have them on flickr later tonight tagged as iasummit06

My Panel
I had a great time with Todd Warfel, Thomas Vander Wal, Nathan Curtis and Livia Labate discussing with the audience the challenges of creating rich interactions with wireframes.

Some folks requested the latest version of our interesting moments grid. You can find the inline editing and drag and drop templates at my blog article on The Interaction Matrix.

Some Books, Sites and other Things of Random Interest
  • Book - How Customers Think
  • Carson Workshops - Mentioned by Francois Jordaan
  • Book - Lead Users - Understanding early adopters as users
  • Interesting IA Tool - swipr - Visio toolkit for end-to-end wireframing. Looks promising.
My Badge
They gave us big badges with lots of space to tag ourselves (or let other tag us). I chose to tag myself like this:

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