5 Takeaways from IA Summit 2015

Laura Sweltz, Director of UX Research and Strategic Initiatives

Article Category: #Strategy

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I’ll just come out and say it. Of all of the conferences that I’ve attended, IA Summit is my favorite. There is always high-quality, thought-provoking content, but more importantly, there is also a strong sense of community. This year was no different. After heading off to Minneapolis last week to attend IA Summit 2015, I felt the strength of that community yet again as I met with IA Summit friends both new and old. I also enjoyed spending quality time with the other Viget UXers that attended the conference.  

Beyond the community aspect, stepping away from work for a few days and hearing from others in the field was also refreshing. Listening to others talk about things that you’re passionate about and hearing new perspectives is a helpful source of inspiration.  

Here are 5 takeaways from some of my favorite talks:

  1. Semantic structures provide consistency across contexts. Semantics are the glue that create a pervasive information architecture. As we design cross-channel experiences, leveraging semantics is key to crafting a consistent experience. Whether a customer is viewing your website on a mobile phone or walking into a physical store and talking with a salesperson, semantics can make those disparate experience feel connected and seamless. - Keynote, Jorge Arango, Transcript
  2. Avoid jumping from inferences to design decisions too soon. When conducting research, we have a tendency to use our first inference when we move on to design decisions.  We should spend more time testing alternative inferences so we can draw better conclusions. We should also focus on combining qualitative and quantitative research approaches. Leveraging findings from our qualitative research to drive the focus of our quantitative research will lead to the most beneficial insights. - Is Design Metrically Opposed?, Jared Spool, Slides
  3. Generate interest and involvement with clarity and orientation.  Information is fluid and can take on many forms. No structure for presenting content is inherently right or wrong, but we should strive to provide vividness, clarity, and motivation to those consuming that content. Ted Nelson describes this in a much more delightful way, so I recommend watching the video of his talk. - New Fields and Feeled Effects, Ted Nelson, Transcript/Video
  4. Use journey maps to improve content governance. Creating a journey map that pinpoints the actions and decision points involved in publishing a piece of content is a useful exercise. It helps to define all of the players, extrapolate the intricate details of how content is currently managed, and find ways to improve the process — both online and offline.  - Mapping the Way Forward, Richard Ingram, Slides 
  5. Create a world of ANDs instead of a world of ORs. We should strive to expand beyond our comfort zone and spend more time with folks outside of our specific disciplines. Rather than focusing on the differences between fields, we should look for what’s similar and try to learn from one another. Our work is not mutually exclusive and we should look for ways to bring different groups together instead of pushing farther apart.  - What Is Past Is Prologue, Jesse James Garrett and Christina Wodtke

This was my third trip to the summit and it did not disappoint. Minneapolis served as a nice backdrop for the conference. I enjoyed exploring several good restaurants and breweries in the area with fellow Summiteers. A quick jaunt to Dangerous Man Brewing was my personal favorite. Let the countdown to IA Summit 2016 in Atlanta begin!  

Laura Sweltz

Laura is Viget's Director of UX Research and Strategic Initiatives. She works from our Durham, NC office, where she helps clients like Rotary International, AARP, and Time Life understand the needs and behaviors of their users.

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