Friday, March 30, 2007

IA Summit 2007 - update

I can't believe that it has been over a year since I last posted to this blog. It is one of those things that everyone keeps telling me to do.

So here's my update...

Moved on from the Head of User Experience in the London agency and am now working freelance; doing all the things I always wanted to do - train, write and hopefully mentor people. The last one I am still working on.

To be honest I can't remember the previous IA Summit very well - other than lots of facet talks. This one I did enjoy, maybe because I did so much.

And this is what I want to talk more about.

I presented on three themes at the conference
  1. UX Management
  2. Structuring data
  3. Admin interfaces
The UX Management workshop went fabulously; a group of people who engaged with each other and the topic. I'm not sure that interviewing, recruitment and politics were discussed in such detail at the Summit before. We are going to follow this workshop up with a mailing list hosted by the IA Institute.

I did two things with structuring data; a workshop with Karen Loasby, John Allsopp and Thomas Vander Wal and a panel with Tom Coates, Matt Biddulph and Lisa Chan.

I enjoyed the workshop, though my data exercise was too long and complicated for the time allotted - it really needed 2 hours to do it in its current state. Next time it will be less complicated. It was so interesting to see the way people were problem solving, some mucking into the data to see the patterns and interactions and some focusing on the purpose of the interface and interaction. I sometimes forget (and am pleasantly surprised) when I see the different working styles of people. I also really enjoyed Karen's chicken exercise; John's really interesting presentation on microformats (read the book) and Thomas' round-up of the topic.

The panel was a scream; we learnt about my dating habits(!), Tom's take on the semantic web guys, Matt's screen shots of the life of Peterme, Lisa's efforts with children's writing and finding THAT editor; all in the guise of trying to pull data from all over the web together.

I also presented on Admin interfaces; the type of unloved interfaces that usually get created by chance or by developers. Tom created the first one I had a lot of exposure to at the BBC and had a lot of frustrations communicating the purpose to the end users. My case study also had the same frustrations; with both showing how the information would be used in the web site and the process of entering in the content. Dan Willis made an interesting comment and one that I will keep in mind for the next interface,
it is about the difference between creating and managing the content

Creating and uploading may need a different interface to the management; using Excel vs. form based interfaces.

As usual I also had a fab time meeting people that I only see once a year at the Summit. Hopefully I'll see more of them before the next one in Miami 10-14 April 2008.


Blogger xian said...

Mags, my biggest regret of the summit was missing your admin interface talk. (I think I attended the alzheimers presentation -which was itself quite valuable and moving, but still).

I've always considered admin interfaces the red-headed stepchildren of websites, often tacked on as an afterthought and underdesigned because they're the janitor's closet, not shown to the paying customer.

But of course the people maintaining a site and its content are themselves a hugely important user segment! While admin interfaces perhaps need not be pretty, they absolutely need to be intelligently architected and designed.

I hope I can hear your thoughts on this in some other forum in the future.

Thanks also for the great structured data workshop. I enjoyed it immensely and thought each of you brought a lot to the experience.

9:13 PM  

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