Sunday, September 25, 2005

JJG in Amsterdam

Even though I decided not to move to San Francisco and work for Adaptive Path (see Smart Move for more info), I still like them a lot and they still seem to like me :-)

That's why I recently had a very pleasant dinner with their CEO Janice and Executive Producer Kate discussing everything from projects, ideal company profiles, Ajax/AJAX, etc. to politics, social structure and culture. It's also why I have been working with Adaptive Path's events coordinator Carrie Devine on preparing their next event in Europe. And I hope you like the result as much as I do:

Jesse James Garrett is coming to Amsterdam!

On November 7th, he will present "a full day of practical advice and strategic thinking on the role of user-centered design" and I encourage every local user experience practitioner to register! (*cough* contactmeforaspecialdiscount *cough*)
I am working on organizing another Amsterdam IA Cocktail Hour on the same date to allow the local IAs to mix with the international attendees. Last year Peter Merholz and Jeff Veen mingled with the crowd, and I hope to be able to persuade Jesse to do the same this year...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Learning, Doing, Selling: IA Summit 2006 announced

While I was busy with the preparations for both the SIGCHI.NL and the EURO IA conferences, there was this other not unsignificant conference committee that required my attention every now and then. It took some discussions and then a quiet period over the summer holidays, but now I am proud to be part of another team of hardworking IAs that is preparing a conference: The IA Summit 2006 conference site is online!

Yesterday, in a flash of inspiration, I wrote the copy on the opening page around the three subthemes, "Learning, Doing, Selling". If that's too long for you, here's the official announcement text:

IA Summit 2006 - Call for Papers

We are seeking proposals for presentations, case studies, panels, posters, and pre-conference workshops for the 2006 Information Architecture Summit. Go to for information and to submit.

We encourage submissions from practitioners, academics, and students. We also want to hear from developers, business analysts, managers, and others who work with information architects and/or deal with information architecture.

For the first time this year we have added a peer-reviewed academic track, and we encourage submissions from academics highlighting IA research or theory.

The 2006 IA Summit is March 23-27, 2006, in Vancouver, Canada. See for more information.

Join me in Vancouver next year, and help us put a great program together by submitting a proposal. I look forward to reviewing it! :-)

Saturday, September 03, 2005

EURO IA Summit program: what and how

As of yesterday, the EURO IA summit program is online!

In reviewing the submissions with the organizing committee, we have had to turn down many interesting presentations, mostly due to the limited number of slots: early on in the planning process we decided to have a two-day, one-track program and reserved space for that. Combined with our ambition to allow as many European countries as possibe on the program, we have had to be very restictive in accepting presentations. But we have asked the authors of some of the remaining high-quality submissions to transform their paper or case study into a poster so the attendees can still learn from their insights and experiences. This has allowed us to double the number of accepted authors.

Still, with 13 case studies and paper presentations from 7 European countries (Great Britain, Danmark, The Netherlands, Italy, Norway, Ireland*, and of course our host Belgium) and about the same number of posters from several more (including France and Austria), I think we will succeed in gathering the most active Information Architecture communities of Europe in Brussels. We also trust our Country Ambassadors to promote the conference locally whenever they can.

So, if you are a European IA, or an IA who is interested in our communities, go and register for the conference (note that it is cheaper if you do it on or before September 8)!

*Andrew Dillon, our keynote speaker, may be mentioned as coming from the USA, but he is Irish by birth.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Guerilla IA at work!

Thanks to Google Alert, this morning I received my weekly "e-government and usability" alert. This time it contained a story about how the Warwickshire county council's web developers spent time with real users at an agricultural Town and Country Festival:
This was the fourth year that the web department has exhibited at the festival. Phil Parker, corporate webmaster, says there are two reasons. First, for a fraction of the cost of hiring usability consultants, the team get a chance to watch how ordinary people use the site. By discreetly keeping an eye on how visitors tackle questions, and judicious use of the "back" button, developers find out which bits of the site are awkward to use. Secondly, appearing in public promotes the council's online services, from renewing library books to applying electronically for a job, to people who would never find them on their own.

I love this story. It's all about guerrilla usability, something I wrote about in A piece of IA pie: little, micro, lite or guerrilla?. The fact that they simply use the back button to find out where people navigated is so simple, I wouldn't have thought of that. Then again, when I designed e-goverment websites at EzGov, it was mostly complex applications where the Back-button was "fixed" (the website determined where you would go) and using it might disclose personal information, so it would be impractical and unethical to use that as a research device.

One thing that struck me though is that the people doing this are called developers, not designers. I assume it was the Guardian's journalist that implied this based on the fact that these people could change the website after these tests. I can only hope that a user experience designer was there too...