IA Summit Recap (1 of 2)

Laura Sweltz, Director of UX Research and Strategic Initiatives

Article Category: #Design & Content

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Attending the IA Summit was a great opportunity to take a break from my normal routine, connect with other professionals in the field, and to hear from both big names and new faces about the challenges and opportunities that we as IA/UX professionals are currently experiencing.  It also didn’t hurt that the conference was held in New Orleans, home to plenty of delicious food offerings and fun.  Although this was my first time at the IA Summit, I’m certain it won’t be my last.

The Talks

There were plenty of interesting talks to attend throughout the summit.  Here are the key takeaways from a couple of my favorite sessions:

Projects should be driven by solid company visions. 

Since UX is only a piece of the puzzle that fits into the larger, overall strategy for an organization, it is essential to think cohesively by aligning everyone with the organization and your project team.  The organization needs to have a clear vision that the team can refer to throughout the project in order to guide decision making.  It is the role of the UX team to lead the facilitation of this alignment process.

- Strategic User Experience, Leisa Reichelt

Don’t forget about the content creators.

They are users too, and they deserve to work within enjoyable and easy-to use content management systems that reflect their workflow.  Building better content management systems will help create happier, more productive content teams and ultimately lead to better content.

- Adapting Ourselves To Adaptive Content, Karen McGrane | Slides

Don’t limit what users can do on mobile.

The concept that all mobile users are rushed and distracted just isn’t true.  Many users are in a relaxed setting when they visit sites on their mobile devices. More importantly, there are some users whose only internet connection is through a mobile device, meaning it is only possible for them to interact with your site via mobile.  Enabling mobile users to accomplish any task on your site is vital.

- The Myths of Mobile Context, Josh Clark | Slides

Think before you talk. 

This one sounds simple enough but it can be really hard to actually do.  When participating in a design critique, it is important to remember the purpose of the critique and the goals of the item that you are critiquing.  Really listening and thinking about what would constitute productive feedback instead of just blurting out your initial reactions is key to making a critique successful.  Providing feedback should be a selfless act that is about improving a product as opposed to being an outlet for your personal preferences.

- Discussing Design: The Art of Critique, Adam Connor & Aaron Irizarry | Slides

Be the change.

If you want to see change happen within your organization, don’t just sit around waiting for something to happen.  Take action to create that change.  When you’re facilitating conversations across the organization or taking small steps yourself to start leading the way, be an activator of change.

- Leading Across Channels, Harry Max


The Overall Experience

New Orleans provided a great backdrop to the IA Summit.

Sharing cocktails and conversation with new IA Summit friends at The Three Muses on Frenchmen Street was particularly enjoyable.  The relaxed atmosphere and live music was a welcome change after the craziness of  Bourbon Street.

My favorite meal was probably at Cochon Butcher.  The Gambino sandwich, filled with plenty of house meats, was simply delicious.


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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