I attended ‘World Information Architecture Day 2014’ in Arnolfini, Centre for Contemporary Arts in Bristol on Saturday. What a fantastic day of interesting and inspirational speakers, a creative and friendly audience in a quirky location!
World Information Architecture Day brings the information architecture community together. Fostering links within the local communities and on a global scale, the event took place across 24 Countries of the World – Bristol being one of them!
The speakers were:
- Simon Norris – CEO & Founder of Nomensa opened the day
- Andrea Resmini – Information Architect with FatDUX ‘It is pitch black and you’re about to be eaten by a grue – Lessons from video games’
- Bronwyn Kotzen – Architect and Urbanist from Johannesburg, South Africa ‘Architecture without buildings’
- Dan Ramsden – User experience architect for Knowledge & Learning, BBC ‘Information Architects are Designers too…’
- Elizabeth Bule – Postgraduate Researcher, Northumbria University ‘Guerrilla IA Techniques: Content Analysis when you can’t do a card sort’
- MC Shraefel – Professor of computer science and human performance, University of Southampton ‘Finding the path to innovative success by walking away from it’
- Jason Hobbs – Director of Information Architecture at Nomensa ‘Information Architecture and everything else’.
Andrea Resmini – It is pitch black and you’re about to be eaten by a grue – Lessons from video games
I wasn’t sure how much I would take away from this talk because I don’t play games myself but it was very interesting and many areas covered translate in to areas of UX design.
I was most interested in the discussion on engagement in games; a game needs to keep a users interest, this is a difficult challenge, the game can’t be too easy or too difficult and the mystery needs to remain throughout. This could be brought in to user journeys for gamification, websites and apps.
Bronwyn Kotzen – Architect and Urbanist from Johannesburg, South Africa ‘Architecture without buildings
Bronwyn doesn’t work within User Experience Design but the overlap/similarity with the design process is very interesting.
Bronwyn described Information Architecture as: Structure / Representation / Meaning
Exploring the provocations on the production of the built form in our cities. In a world of uncertain futures, Bronwyn showcased her University project where she explored alternative models of praxis beyond the current object making culture of design toward a process driven architecture of meaning rather than building in the contemporary changing city. Bronwyns work was a ‘fashion hub’, bringing together designers, stockists and fashion related businesses in an area where the external space would be used for related events.
An interesting way of looking at the space around us and making the best use of it – similar to digital design.
Dan Ramsden – User experience architect for Knowledge & Learning, BBC ‘Information Architects are Designers too…
Dan loves a good biscuit on the train (a train biscuit!)
I felt Dan’s presentation was most relevant to User Experience and the environment I would like to work.
Dan provided an insight in to how he and his team work using ‘Design Sprints’. Sprints enable thought and planning on strategy, scope, structure, skeleton and surface all within the space of a week. Sprints usually last 5 days:
Day one – Understanding (users and products) – Discovery / Findings
Need and use: Understanding the problem or opportunity you want to address. Finding the user motivation. The team use stories, they are broken down in to 2 types: pages (discreet interactions, , situations or challenges), chapters (strong discreet interactions – connected these ‘page-like’ experiences together into longer term relationships), books (interactions with our ideas – where interests or needs that had become aligned to the users sense of self and identity). This variety iensures different types of solution – some were really low friction, others described the behaviours and needs of our most committed audience members.
At the end of day one stories were amalysed, similarities spotted, maybe combine one or two and vote on which ones to take forward into day two. The stories chosen set the direction for the ideas we create, and helped recruit participants for testing in the final stage of the sprint.
All about flair and discipline, use stories created to help identify needs and opportunities and construct ‘How might we…’ questions to shape ideas around.
Refinement is important, combining creativity with some constraint. Refer to understanding of the product, the technical architecture and ‘what’s possible’ to influence and shape the direction of ideas. Working on what is possible, rather than what is perfect – that can come later. The team work using ‘crazy 8’s’, A3 paper folded in to 8, doodle ideas quickly then take these designs, talk over them and choose 2 or 3 to develop.
Day three – Converge – scope and structure
Selecting ideas to prototype from ideas or features created on day two. The design team, and stakeholders then vote on these ideas to select the ones to prototype, this can be done in a few ways, Dan favours ‘dotting’ – sticking coloured dots on to designs. Ideas are unpacked into individual features or requirements and connected together to see similarities and dependencies, figuring out what gets you from one idea to the next of a user journey an ensuring it makes sense pre-prototyping.
Day four – Prototype – skeleton
Making the ideas work. ‘Informed consent’ in the design and information architecture of a product – users are asked to make decisions as they navigate products, to ensure genuine choices the user needs to be empowered through good IA – giving them the right amount of information in order for it to be a genuine choice.
Prototypes are reasonable simulations of the idea, Dan used really low fidelity wireframes, making oversized iPhones and iPads from foam board (great idea!! – Sized so A4 and A3 paper can slot in to them)
Day five – Testing – surface and strategy
Testing consisted of running through the prototype with 6 participants. Participants were based on user journeys decided on day one so all were interested in the content and potentially open to the proposition.
Plausability – Connecting the dots
IA’s are as interested in the gaps as the things that inhabit them, so are well suited to spotting when things don’t work.
IAs think in terms of services. Identifying dependencies – they break everything down and think about products and services, as well as the information that constitutes them – connecting experiences together into broader services:
- Personas – the audience
- Lifecycles – user need and context
- Blueprints – unaddressed needs
Information Architecture makes the World a better place!
“Experience design on the web aims to crafting meaningful and useful experiences through ‘information spaces’ – that’s why IA will make the world a better place, if we can use our skills and mindset to influence and augment the creativity of other disciplines – we can make things that are more meaningful and more useful.” Dan Ramsden
Read the full presentation here: http://danramsden.com/2014/02/16/ias-designers/
Elisabeth Brie – IA without card sorting – indicative content analysis
Identify themes in content. Elisabeth used an example of redesigning an existing website; she created an excel spreadsheet of each page on the website, laid it out alphabetically and gave it a ‘tag’, if a page needed 2 or more tags then the page was duplicated and given the relevant single tags. The client can then go through the list and take out the unneeded pages. This content inventory enabled simplification of categories and a better site structure.
MC Shraefel – Professor of computer science and human performance, University of Southampton ‘Finding the path to innovative success by walking away from it’
MC talks about behaviour change – very relevant to my ‘MSP’. MC discussed how difficult it can be for people to make certain changes in their lives, so people need tuning instead of chnage – finding the optimal performance path.
People need to do what’s easiest and best for them.
For example, if someone is trying to lose weight, they may want to walk to met friends for coffee rather than going for a run.
MC highlighted and emphasised how looking after ourselves is hugely important for both our health and productivity. Moving more and eating well will make us feel better and produce better work! “Take care of yourself first, then you can let others in” MC Shraefel.
Fab conference, looking forward to the next event!