Impressions: World Information Day 2017 and Meetup

Perspective image looking down a cliff, with a fisheye lens that looks like the curvature of the globe.

Several weeks ago, I attended World Information Architecture Day, held at Bloomberg. In case you’re wondering what World Information Architecture Day is, here is an explanation from their website:

“World Information Architecture Day is a one-day annual celebration hosted by the Information Architecture Institute and held in dozens of locations across the globe.”

It takes place in 58 locations, across 24 countries, on 5 continents on one day. Pretty neat. As it was one day long so there weren’t that many presenters. Two presentations stuck out for me.

Favorite World IA Day Speaker Presentations

The first presentation was about team building and team dynamics. It was called Designing Teams for Emerging Challenges – available on SlideShare.

The speaker had a friendly demeanor and it’s easy to feel an emotional connection to the topic of team dynamics. I felt an easy connection to this presentation. On slide 24, the speaker talked about helping people feel comfortable being themselves. He warned that this is not the same as fitting in. He made the observation that sometimes team members can end up forming little cliques, because people like hanging out with others who are like them.

The other presentation was called Beyond User Research. It promotes using a combination of quantitative and qualitative research to continuously improve a user interface. This presentation got me thinking about the field of User Experience and remembering that it’s not all about making things look pretty. The speaker made a well-observed comment about introverts, which I connected with, too. 🙂

The presentation showed that in order to provide real value, UX designers and architects should regularly incorporate a wide variety of research into their practice. UX architects should be open to using web analytics research, in addition to traditional UX research.

I liked slide 36 because it was easy to see the relationship between the different research techniques in one view. The slide comes from an article from Nielson-Norman Group, called When to Use Which User-Experience Research Methods:

Summary: Modern day UX research methods answer a wide range of questions. To know when to use which user research method, each of 20 methods is mapped across 3 dimensions and over time within a typical product-development process.

Another Speaker Event, Meetup

Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to get out more and attend more Meetups. Shortly after the World IA Day event, I attended a Digital Product Design Meetup for the first time. The speaker for this event gave a presentation called Evolving the Design Game. There is a link to a video of the presentation. (This is video is expertly produced. Very well done.) There is no link to the slides themselves.

I didn’t have the same takeaways with this presentation as I did with the other presentations. However, the presenter did get across that he felt his work was misunderstood and under appreciated, and he felt that was true across the industry.

At one point in the presentation, he asked the audience about their experience with a CEO making a color change request. He said that he did not have a solution to stop that type of behavior.


A dark brown chess piece with a gold crown sitting on top, resembling a queen.

Finding Solutions

At its heart, engineering is about using science to find creative, practical solutions. It is a noble profession. – Queen Elizabeth II (http://Read more at: BrainyQuote)

What popped into my head as a solution to this problem was slide 26 from the Beyond User Research presentation. I was thinking about research, not design.

I’ve observed a growing emphasis on the visual design skill of UX designers, including mandates for specific wireframe software. In contrast, I observe very little emphasis on research methods. My conclusion is that non-UX designers, coming into contact with the field, end up doing the same thing: overemphasizing looks and under-appreciating research.

The solution could be as simple as getting back to basics. A long-term commitment to research, treating every aspect of the work thoughtfully and deliberately, might help designers earn greater respect and appreciation for their work from their clients and co-workers. In an upcoming blog post, I’ll write about using the UX audit as a part of a UX research plan.


Old tube-style TV

Or…maybe the answer is to watch more videos from World IA Day! In an upcoming post, or on my Tumblr, I’ll post videos or links. Or you can search on Twitter at #WIAD17 or #wiad17.

 

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