Workshop: From Strategy to Structure (and Back Again)

The products and services you design should address the needs of your organization and of society as a whole. As a designer of information environments, you need to think beyond the user interface to the underlying structures that bring order and coherence to the artifacts people interact with.

This half-day workshop teaches tools to help visualize product strategy, and translate that strategy to an information architecture to produce products and services that address the real needs of people and organizations.

The workshop is structured in three parts divided by two hands-on exercises. However, this is not a rigid structure: The workshop is set up to be a conversation focused the attendees’ interests.

There are no slides; instead, I lead participants through a series of ideas and concepts by drawing diagrams live using an iPad Pro. This format is more engaging and interactive than traditional slides.

By participating in the workshop,

  • You’ll learn how to visualize product strategy and to connect it to purpose
  • You’ll learn how to bridge that strategy to semantic structures that inform coherent UIs
  • You’ll learn how pace layering can help you create information environments that better stand the test of time
  • You’ll get an overview of conceptual modeling as a tool for designing better information environments

I’ve given versions of this workshop at Euro IA 2016 (Amsterdam), the Italian IA Summit 2016 (Rome), and plan to do so at the IA Summit 2017 (Vancouver). 

Leaving Your Mark

Update 2016-12-26: I’ve published a post based on this presentation.

Closing keynote for the 10th Italian Information Architecture Summit, delivered on November 12, 2016 in Rome.

Description:

What mark are you leaving in the world? Look around you. Rome is a testament to the power of architecture to create places that stand the test of time, marks of people long gone. Stone, metal, wood, pozzolana: Architects design for the ages.

Digital information environments, on the other hand, are among our shortest-lived designed artifacts. What was once a cutting-edge application quickly becomes outdated as device form factors and operating systems evolve. It seems those of us who design and produce websites, applications, and other information products and services are constantly trying to catch-up so our designs can remain relevant. Instead of designing for the ages, we work for and within an ever-smaller now.

But not everything changes at the same speed. The structure of information environments, in particular, evolves at a slower pace than its forms. Because of this, information architects can and should design for the ages too.

In this closing keynote, we will look at information architecture as a discipline in the broader context of design for purpose, and how as an information architect you can leave a mark that endures.

Lands, Hubs, and Wienies

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Update 2017-01-12: I’ve published a post based on this presentation.

I delivered this presentation at the 2016 IA Summit in Atlanta, Georgia

Presentation Summary:

Digital products and services are new types of places that alter how people understand information. This presentation distills lessons in placemaking from one of the most successful places ever created—Disneyland—to help you design more effective information environments.

When designing a digital product or service, you are engaging in a new type of placemaking: one that alters how people perceive and understand information. As with (building) architects, digital designers seek to create environments that are understandable and usable by human beings, and which can grow and adapt over time to meet their needs and those of their organizations. This presentation will help you create more effective digital products and services by distilling lessons in placemaking from one of the most successful physical environments ever designed: Disneyland (and the subsequent Magic Kingdom-style theme parks around the world). You will learn how to create conceptual frameworks that allow users to make sense of and find their way through your information environment, and how those frameworks can inform a clear structure for your user’s experiences.

Slide deck:

Architects Everywhere

Keynote presentation for World IA Day 2016 San Francisco.

Update 2016-03-03: I’ve published an article based on this presentation.

Description:

Architecture is everywhere. Look around you: The place in which you are reading these words has an architecture, and somebody designed it. Less obviously, the wesbite, app, and operating system through which these words reach your eyes also have architecture — and this is one which you can design.

As we gather to celebrate the 5th World IA Day, we will ponder the question: In what sense is our work “architecture”?

In this presentation, you will learn:

  • What we mean by “architecture” in IA.
  • How being conscious of the impact of architectural decisions can help you design products that can grow and adapt to changing needs.
  • How you can design more effective architectures.

Information Architecture Essentials

A video training series for O’Reilly Media. It covers:

  • The primary goals of information architecture
  • How users find information and how IA helps that search effort
  • The “Problem Space” and the use of conceptual modeling in IA
  • Basic IA components: organization schemes, labeling systems, and navigation systems
  • The communication skills essential to working in IA multi-disciplinary teams
  • How UX designers communicate IA design concepts to IA team members
  • How to create IA that evolves successfully over time

Purchase at oreilly.com. (You can stream the first two sessions for free.)