365 Days of Random

Random musings about nothing at all

IA Summit Day 3

Day three of what has turned out to be the best conference I’ve ever attended. The IA Summit has introduced me to a community of people that think like me and are trying to solve the same problems. This is the first conference I’ve ever been to where I really truly learned something in every single session I attended. Even the ones that weren’t what I expected. So many people were tracking the conference on twitter that I even learned some things from the sessions I wasn’t able to attend by reading the twitter stream from the session.

My IA Summit journey started back in January and to be honest the only reason I attended was because the session RF proposed was accepted and he asked me to co-present with him. If the talk hadn’t been selected I would be back in DC right now rather than in Denver and I would have missed out on a great deal of information that has clear applicability to things I am working on every single day.

Sessions today focused on Visual Design (something I have a goal to learn more about), Memory being the thing we focus on in place of experience (since experience isn’t what we make decisions based on – memory is), and the future of UX as an industry. Throw in one speakers ability to connect UX to martial arts, the tango and mimosas and you have yet another stellar day.

But my favorite part of the day was what the summit organizers called “5 minute madness”. This was a chance after the closing plenary for anyone who had something they wanted to share could get up in front of the room and say what they had to say within 5 minutes. There were some great stories and thoughts and observations. In the beginning the only people who were up there were the ‘usual suspects’ and since more than 50% of attendees were ‘first timers’ (like me) everyone kept asking for the first time attendees to get up there and offer our thoughts. Throughout the conference I was documenting my thoughts about the sessions on twitter. Apparently I gathered enough followers during the weekend that people started calling me out to get up into the “Madness line” and speak up. So of course I did. Basically I said the same things I said here. That this was the first conference I’ve ever attended where every session offered me some new information that I can take back and work to apply.

Overall this conference was a huge success for me. I learned a lot. Met some very cool people. Got some experience speaking in front of larger groups (which I am fairly comfortable with anyway) and was able to share some of my own thoughts and insights about UX and Design. I fully intend to come up with something very cool to talk about at next year’s event in New Orleans. I guess that means I need to figure out how to apply some of the concepts I learned here in new and interesting ways with my own work so that I have something new and interesting to offer back to the community next year.

And that’s the IA Summit done for 2011. See everyone next year!!


April 3, 2011 Posted by | Design, User Experience | , , , | Leave a comment

IA Summit Day 2

Another good day here in Denver.

My favorite thing about conferences is the people that you meet. Everyone comes from different places and companies and projects. But since we’re all at the same conference we already have something in common. Generally I find that the real learning happens when you talk to your peers in those informal moments. But at the IA Summit, I am learning things all over the place.

Sessions today were just as good as yesterday. I think because I didn’t have to focus on my own presentation, and our talk wasn’t as fresh in the minds of the users I could think a bit less about what we do now and focus more on what we could start to do in the future. My two favorite breakout sessions of the day were without a doubt the beginning one and the final one (before the closing plenary).

The day started with a session about “The Art of Critique”. For me critique is something that I highly value. Yet I find that a lot of the people don’t seem to get the same positive take aways from it. No matter what I do there will always be room for improvement. Critique is always about making things better and it’s never about us as individuals. The session this morning focused on techniques for setting up a welcoming environment for critique. Some of the main points were things like – don’t ASK to critique something, wait to be invited. That the person being critiqued is the one that gets to decide which elements of the feedback will be acted upon. And, that the best critique sessions are focused on understanding of the GOALS of the design being critiqued. I’d love to see more of this kind of formal critique happening for the work I do… maybe something I can explore for my next series of projects.

The final break out session was called “The Journey to Yes” and I have to say the speaker was probably the most inspirational guy I’ve heard in a long time. His main point was to constantly look at yourself and know that what you do ALWAYS has a direct impact on how others react and behave. It was a good reminder that 90% of communication between human beings is non verbal and that face to face will always be better than flat electronic methods. For me I’ve had some struggles with a couple of people recently and I have been trying really hard to change the way I behave. This session gave me so much great information that I can apply in so many situations. I was completely blown away – even though none of it was new information. It was just so concisely laid out that it was like a bit of a head slapping moment.

The rest of the day was mixed with other great sessions. Some about what Service Design is and how it applies to places like REI, public transit in Sweden and even in dealing with “death”. Other sessions were about the value of design briefs and thinking time in successful design projects.

I’ve gotten a great deal of value out of this conference so far and I am very very glad I came. It’s one that I’d probably advocate coming to year after year. Just to get the pulse on where our industry is going. Tonight’s entertainment is a myriad of choices: trivia night followed by game night, dinner with some new ux friends, or beer and bar food and NCAA basketball. I may actually shoot for a combination of options.

Day 3 (the final day) tomorrow… more to come.

April 2, 2011 Posted by | Design, User Experience | , , , , , | Leave a comment