IA Summit 2009

  IA SUMMIT 2009
March 18-22, 2009, Memphis, Tennessee

Beyond Findability: Reframing IA Practice & Strategy for Turbulent Times

All Day Seminar, Wednesday, March 18, 2009, 9:00am-5:00pm (separate fees)

Changes are happening fast in technology, the economy, and even the various User Experience professions. In the midst of such turbulence, conventional Information Architecture can have trouble seeming fully relevant. Some may see it as a commodity, or a narrow specialty that has little to do with the game-changing emergence of social media, ubiquitous & mobile computing, and the rest.

This full-day workshop will address such concerns with a boundary-pushing foray into IA craft and strategy. We'll show how core IA skills are more relevant and strategically important than ever, and we'll explore how we can extend IA to its full potential in 21st century UX design.

Topics covered will include:

1. Models for how IA shapes context, and its impact on user needs & business goals.
Context is at the heart of what IA actually shapes with tools like mental models and taxonomies. And understanding how IA affects context can help put it in perspective for designers and clients. We'll cover some theoretical ideas about how context works in digital & physical space, as well as practical outcomes. We'll show how some design blunders are actually failures to think about context, and how IA best practices could have improved that awareness, and we'll look at some ways to model context that help us think through these design challenges. 

2. Flexible "frameworks" that can result in more durable, scalable architectures.
Many IA practitioners (and clients and designers) still think of IA as primarily about figuring out where things should be and putting them thereŚclassic inventory-based classification hierarchies & navigation structures. But modern information environments are requiring more expansive thinking from IA: flexible systems that accommodate and cultivate the "third order of order." We'll explore helpful ways of thinking about and explaining how frameworks function, and provide a number of framework design-pattern examples attendees can use for reference in their own work.

3. Tactics for integrating IA with other design disciplines & peers.
Who's supposed to do the wireframe? The "Information Architect?" The "Interaction Designer?" The "Developer?" What's the difference, anyway? We'll put the elephants in the room right on the table, and explore how to keep the tensions healthy while still doing great design work. In particular, we'll look at how to manage the dynamics of different practitioner communities on the same project, and how IA functions as just one element of UX design. For example: the IA issues represented by a wireframe are actually different (yet complementary to) the primary IxD issues of the same document. Not only can we be better at working with UX peers, we can improve how we explain this work to IT and Business partners. 

4. How IA can help drive business & design strategy, rather than merely answer to it.
Too often, we find ourselves being handed highly defined "business rules" and being asked to make wireframes and "site maps" for them. But often it feels like we're being handed a Titanic and being asked to arrange the deck chairs in alphabetical order. How can we do a better job of bringing User Experience to the "strategy table" of our clients and employers?

We'll explore how best to make the best case for UX in general (and IA in particular) to a business ideology-driven audience: how to have better data, and how (and why) to wrap it in a powerful narrative; how IA affects brand; the dual nature of design documentation (design tool vs "deliverable"); and how to keep the client happy while protecting the core of the design work from the trap of designing for the client rather than the users.

About Our Approach: 
Much of the content will be based on new, emerging ideas that have shown promise "in the wild" of design practice, but have not yet gained consensus as settled orthodoxy. This is in keeping with the workshop's aim to help attendees revitalize their approach to IA, as well as the IA Institute's mission to cultivate approaches to next-generation IA practice.

This will be a team-facilitated workshop that covers both theory and practice: there will be Big Ideas to fuel discussion, and practical tools to use at work. Throughout the workshop, participants will work in small-group sessions. Activities will include well-designed brainstorming exercises, problem-solving, and opportunities for attendees to learn from one another. 

Who will benefit:
Anyone who wants to take their IA practice to a higher level of understanding, performance & significance.

About IAI:
The Information Architecture Institute provides the IA community with both "practice" leadership and "idea" leadership. Things that support practice (e.g. tools, mentors, discussion list, project opportunities) give UX professionals the methods and tools they need for their day-to-day tasks. At the same time, the ideas and discourse that make information architecture an exciting and hard-to-define profession also drive the development of new tools and practices that serve emerging needs.

While the IAI believes in core, traditional IA practices, we also believe they have relevance far beyond the conventional understanding of IA. Information Architecture has the power to describe and contribute practical solutions addressing the profound disruptions caused by globally networked digital spaces. This workshop is one effort at helping IA practitioners build an excellent toolbox for a broad, strategic, and practical application of Information Architecture.

Andrew Hinton (Workshop Lead Facilitator)
.  Since 1990, Andrew Hinton has worked as a designer, instructor, writer and consultant of various stripes. Clients have been small and large, including Fortune 500s such as American Express, Shaw, Wachovia and Kimberly-Clark. Andrew is now a Lead Information Architect in mutual-fund giant Vanguard's User Experience Group, where 

>From his pre-Web education, Andrew holds a BA in Philosophy, an MA in Literature and an MFA in Writing. He's a regular speaker at conferences like the IA Summit, and sometimes writes for publications like Boxes & Arrows. His current obsessions include Communities of Practice, social design factors, what games teach us about design, and the meaning of context in digital spaces.

A co-founder of the IA Institute, he serves on its Board as Director of Professional Practice. He also keeps a home on the web at inkblurt.com.

Matthew Milan is a Principal and Design Director with Normative, a design strategy studio based in Toronto, Canada. Over the last ten years, Matthew has led teams of information architects, usability analysts, design researchers and design strategists in the creation all types of interactive experiences for a range of clients including Citigroup, Hallmark, Georgia Pacific and Microsoft. His work has ranged from designing 3D interfaces for web mapping tools to leading global product innovation strategy initiatives. His work has helped a number of companies attain "best in industry" rankings with Forrester.

Matthew speaks and writes regularly on topics ranging from interaction design to marketing strategy. Matthew is active in the experience design and account planning communities, and moonlights as an instructor at the Miami Ad School. He is also a core member of the Unfinished Business project.

Matthew is a co-founder of the UX Irregulars, a Toronto area user experience group and he acts as an adviser for the Information Architecture Institute. He blogs at mmilan.typepad.com and harbors an unhealthy obsession for soft systems theory, maneuver warfare strategy and Lego. 

Livia Labate is Principal of Information Architecture and User Experience for Comcast Interactive Media where she focuses on UX practice development and creating media services across platforms. Livia is also part of the Board of Directors of the Information Architecture Institute, where she volunteers her time to help grow the IA community and practice. Previously she was a business owner and UX/IA consultant for small, medium and large organizations in Brazil, UK and Australia.

Livia is a past and current member of the IAI Board of Directors, and serves currently as its Director of Infrastructure. 

Joe Lamantia is a veteran consultant, architect, and thought leader in the international user experience community. An author and frequent speaker on design, information architecture, business, and enterprise technology, Joe is also the creator of the leading freely available tool for card sort analysis.
Currently based in the Netherlands, Joe is an Experience Architect & Strategist at MediaCatalyst. He blogs regularly at www.joelamantia.com


$550, before Feb. 7, 2009
$625, after Feb. 7, 2009