IA Summit Takeaways

Daniel Stillman

My first IA summit was an excellent and super-over-full experience.

Trying to parse it out is challenging…taking the time off to GET the information is hard enough…then taking time to make the the information USEFUL is the real challenge. As Karl Fast said in his talk about information overload:

“Data is cheap. Understanding is expensive”

So there’s that. Here’s the Data:

Two main themes were the importance of  content strategy and mapping experiences.

I went to a workshop by Kristina Halvorson and a talk by Karen McGrane both of which showed me just how much care and attention have to go into Content Management Systems and the types of data that have, do and will exist on a site. These two presentations have already allowed me to start to ask the right questions for an important internal project. So #winning on that.

One of the weirdest talks was by Andrea Resmini on “groundhogs in the Source Code”. His talk along with Peter Stahl’s talk on Rhythm and Flow (and Dana Chisnell’s talk about How to Measure it) helped to begin to define one of the biggest problems we face in Interaction Design:

Place is where we pause

Space is where we move.

Andrea Resmini

We define our interfaces with key frames and wires, but the flowering of the interface, it’s organic movements, it’s rythmn and flow are much harder to document and describe. Did you see the Mad Men Premiere on Sunday? They’re pitching a commercial with storyboards – one person narrates and the other person hums background music. Lo-fi, hilarious, but also effective. But hard to email to the developers in Prague. So Protocasting came up as a great way to communicate these more intangible elements – take a video of yourself walking through the wires, adding the intangibles.

Two talks that really, really should be read together are Johanna Kollmann’s talk about Multi-channel UX and  Chris Risdon’s talk about Mapping the Experience. Oh, and Ben Reason’s Slides from the opening keynote relate to this, too. Mapping the user flow helps stitch our static wires into a flowing story. Without Story, you don’t have much, really.

Johanna asked the right questions and provided some great frameworks for analyzing systems. Chris gave some great case studies and tools.

Johanna gave us the concept of the Rich Picture – something we all do, but great to see it defined and it’s origins described…She also brought the Business Model Canvas into the dialog…which is great.


Two great slides from Chris’ talk is his summary of Touchpoint interactions and a thorough user journey map.


Some talks were just about doing our jobs better, with other people.

Discussing Design: The Art of Critique by the amazing Aaron Irizarry and Adam Connor was such a one. It was just about best practices when it comes to giving, asking and receiving critique. Something we do all the time.design_cards

Leadership Skills: Managing Difficult Situations on Design Projects by Dan Brown was another. It began to parse out the different patterns we can use to various challenging situations, through the lens of our own traits and habits.He made these awesome cards that help you practice improv-ing through mock challenging situations. It’s great storytelling practice.


Another great talk, well delivered, was Josh Clark’s 7 Myths of Mobile Context.

11% of adults may NEVER see your site on the web – they only use mobile. So that’s a thing. Ebay sells a ton of cars on mobile. People are buying cars, on their phones, on the toilet. Also:

“An app isn’t a strategy. It’s an app.”

Yeah. That.

I think Jamie Monberg’s talk left me with some interesting notes.

Our brains are 2 million years old. We’re not the only tool-using animals out there. And we NEED to transact, physically, emotionally and financially with others. Technology is just a tool that helps us do that. It can be hard to use or easy to use, satisfying or frustrating. That is entirely up to us.

Daniel Stillman

More Stories from Fjord