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Day 1 IA Summit notes

Brief and rough notes from the Saturday IA Summit sessions.

Jared Spool, UCD "rocks" but not in the way that you think

  • Good but quite different from the usual Jared talk; definitely more pontification, less on practicality and not as hilarious. If Jared keeps this up, he will start to rival Jakob for making over-simplistic statements that are partly true but can be really misinterpreted if not looked at with a critical eye.
  • I do agree with Jared that the world we work in has changed a lot since the IBM/360 (which I programmed in high school). "User-centered" was needed to combat the other forces "in the good old days" (that were not that good). If you were blindly following a UCD methodology in the past, you were doing bad UCD to begin with. If you are blindly following any methodology you are doing bad work to begin with.
  • I think what we do today is more about collaboration than the "put my discipline in the center of the process" battles from the old days. Collaboration with other professionals in the UX realm, collaboration with business, collaboration with development. And so on.
  • Human bar charts: stroke of genius.
  • Informing design is important but do not forget about another value of focusing on the user experience: the more strategic impacts of determining what to design in the first place.

Gene Smith, Tagging trends

  • General trend: adding more structure to user-driven tagging. Sub trends: Automanual tagging, community-driven structuring.
  • User + resource + tags model needs to be expanded now. Tags are being applied to the resource as a whole but also parts of the resource.
  • "Innovative" systems being built upon tagging. IBM Dogear referenced.

Tingting Jiang, Exploratory search and folksonomy

  • An entry in the mythical "research track".
  • Compared hierarchical classification, faceted classification, dynamic clusters, folksonomy.
  • Four user activities: Browse, search, being aware, monitoring.
  • User + resource + tags model with lines showing what the systems are doing. Resource-to-resource is a dotted line (no one doing it, apparently).

Bryce Glass, Reputation systems

  • Patterns: Levels, points, Top, Trophies, Ranking, Awards, Stats, Testinomials. Coming soon to Yahoo! Design Pattern Library.
  • More interesting (to me): The questions to ask the business to see what reputation system aspects are right for them.
  • Business goals? Community spirit? Member motivation? Measuring reputation? Inputs to the reputation? Etc.

Jess McMullin, Experience impact framework

  • How to work with your stakeholders better.
  • Know who they are (e.g., 8 types of people).
  • Know what motivates them.
  • Know what they do, their activities.
  • "Do what we do" in collaboration with them. Understand, solve and evaluate with them.
  • Get commitment to action.

Brandon Schauer, Wow factor

  • Business goal is customer loyalty: accomplish with "wow factors" within the experience.
  • People remember the high, the low and the end of the experience. "Total sum" that can stress the "average" not as important.
  • Build experience roadmaps to show how it all fits together, evolves over time, crosses channels.
  • Planning the experience and staging the experience, not just designing the experience.

IA Summit sessions

I just reviewed the IA Summit 2008 sessions and updated the list of what I want to attend. I am sure what I attend will be different for several reasons: getting caught up in a great conversation in the hall and missing a session, doing the "divide and conquer" with my colleagues, or just changing my mind at the last minute.

A few trends / hi-lites / random thoughts:

  • Both keynotes are by "insiders" - Jared Spool and Andrew Hinton. Usually one of the keynotes is an "outsider" - and thus usually one of my favorite sessions. I am sure both keynotes will be awesome anyway.
  • This morning: back to back sessions on tagging (by Gene Smith, probably based on his new book) / tag clouds (by Garrick Schmitt).
  • Two chances to hear Peter Morville on Search patterns. I may alter my schedule to make sure I catch him the second time - there should be fewer people there and he will have the kinks worked out (but he may be grumpier).
  • Definitely not going to miss Jess McMullin and business + experience.
  • Sunday morning at 9am is a real downer: I need/want to go to all 3 sessions. Game experience vs. Taxonomy/UX vs. Placemaking.
  • Good to see a service design session, by Aaron Martlage (who I met at Emergence 2007). We need more service design / UX cross-over.
  • I may miss half of the sessions on Monday because of meetings. The sessions on Monday look good, but fortunately my "must attends" are all on the weekend.
  • In the past there has been a "research track" even if it was not called out as such. Is there one this time?

And start planning for next year - Memphis, February 18-22, 2009 - only 10 short months away.....

T shaped people - link compilation

Too many things in the queue to write about, from Nexus for change two weeks ago and Internet User Experience / UXnet last week. And now heading out for the IA Summit, so there will be more things to add to the list.

So I better start addressing the backlog before I leave for Miami.

Here is one: I was very pleased to meet Zach Smith at Nexus U for many reasons. He works in Japan now but we traced back our roots - all of the way back to attending the same elementary school, just a few years apart.

As we talked about what we are doing now, we found a common topic of interest: t-shaped people. At the end of the day with Zach, I had a few minutes to compile a list of links to t-shaped-people-references-from-the-UX-community for him.

Hope you find the list of links useful.

RGP, Marc Lautenbach, March 6th

IBM's involvement with a local economic development organization continues. First, IBM did a consulting engagement with the Regional Growth Partnership (see my previous blog postings from August 2006 and January 2007).

Next week, RGP is hosting an event on March 6th where IBM Americas General Manager Marc Lautenbach will be talking. The information about the entire morning:

Innovation capturing global opportunity and building regional growth
Thursday, March 6, 2008
9:00 a.m. to Noon
The Pinnacle, 1772 Indian Wood Circle (Arrowhead Park), Maumee

Featuring: Marc Lautenbach, General Manager IBM Americas
"Globalization & competitiveness"

Panel discussion: Business, academia & government working together toward a knowledge-based economy
Including: Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, President, University of Toledo
Mark Wagoner, Ohio Senate (2nd district)

Every few years, an important IBMer comes to town. Bob Sutor came to talk in 2005, for example. I am looking forward to meeting Marc: I am not part of his organization, but I work with several IBM Americas people on a regular basis on matters.

The panel is also very interesting to me. The role of information technology is becoming an important element in the local discussions about regional economic development. For example, recent meta-plan meetings have started the face-to-face sharing of information among the various groups, but now people are asking how to use Internet technologies, social networking, Web 2.0 and the like to continue the collaboration. If I get a chance to ask questions of the panel, I suspect it will be something like this:

If we want our region to be a key player in the knowledge-based economy, then I think the first step would be to have the local economic development leaders use the tools of the knowledge-based economy. How are business, academia and government leveraging the latest web technologies to help them achieve their collaboration goals? What obstacles are in the way of utilizing technology to help us succeed in our regional economic development?

I also found it interesting that Mark Wagoner will be speaking on the panel two days after the Republican primary, where he is running against Mark Hollenbaugh. (Disclaimer: Mark Hollenbaugh is a friend of mine and I have donated to his campaign.)

Should be a fun and informative morning!

Internet User Experience 2008: March 31 - April 3, Ann Arbor

It just keeps getting bigger and better - Internet User Experience, the "local" conference with "national" quality. It will be in nearby Ann Arbor, Michigan, March 31 - April 3.

IUE, in its 4th year, has expanded to 4 days. The first day has 2 all-day tutorials to choose from. The second day is the beginning of the main conference with 7 presentations and a night out-on-the-town. The third day has 2 morning panels, a presentation and 2 half-day afternoon tutorials. The last day is an interactive workshop.

You will see how web sites have been effectively designed for many different markets and target groups, ranging from 3-year olds to adult consumers to specialized professionals. You will see dramatic before-and-after improvements to established web sites. You will learn from experts in fields such as search engine optimization, online communities, and user experience management as they explain and debate the current state, future destiny, and current opportunities that exist for businesses with these evolving technologies and professions.

We are blessed to have such a high quality program for a locally-organized event. Dave Mitropoulos-Rundus, a Michigan UPA officer, is the main force behind this, but he gets volunteers from other local groups like MOCHI, STC/SM and Refresh Detroit, to help. It is a great example of how local User Experience Network collaboration can help pull off something "local" that is comparable to the other UX conferences.

Check out the schedule and register if you are interested. I have gone every year and it has been great. I will be there for at least part of the 4 days - see you there.

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Short recap of Interaction 08 day 1

This is a very short and incomplete recap of my first day of Interaction 08. Overall, an excellent next-step on the road to establishing interaction design. During the day I was Twittering to interaction08 - as were many others - so that is another way to see what happened on Saturday, and to follow along today.

  • Alan Cooper's "best-to-market trumps first-to-market" is a great message that we need to get out to the CEOs. His "time and money are not scarce" reminded me of "You can always get more capital; customers are the scarce resource" from Martha Rogers a few weeks ago. I appreciated his call to action to bridge the worlds of business and IT, but it would have resonated more with me if it was positioned as a user experience team effort; it is going to take many of us, from many backgrounds, to have this large of an impact on the organization.
  • I came in late to Jared Spool's talk, and was glad to not get heckled like some others. Classic Jared - funny and insightful. I am starting to wonder if his schtick would work on a real stand up comedy stage. Enough ordinary people are frustrated with using technology that they would appreciate stories of hard to use web sites and cryptic Microsoft wizards.
  • Sarah Allen's application of cinema techniques was a good example of the other areas of study we need to bring onto the UX team. This was reinforced at lunch when I talked with 2 people from Walt Disney Animation. (Note to my kids: I met someone who worked on the 3d effects of Meet the Robinsons. Does that make me a little bit cooler?)
  • Saskia Idzerda gave an honest recap of the process and designs they went thru for a new Sony Ericsson catalog. The 2 questions I did not get a chance to ask: (1) Did you look at any faceted browsing user interfaces for inspiration, or did you avoid them on purpose? (2) Did you consider localized versions for countries like India or China? Being "consistent" worldwide has some value, but I suspect in this case, being localized and more usable within each locale would be the better experience overall.
  • Bill DeRouchey wins the prize for the best "package": a clear and entertaining presentation (great slide format) fit nicely into the time slot, with a handout and web site to supplement. And, of course, good content.
  • David Armano was right on target with his agency fuzziness talk about DaVinci.

I am late for breakfast, so this will have to do.

Rules and laws are coming

Adding to my December blog posting, more information is coming out about the Peppers and Rogers book "Rules to break and laws to follow". First, the official web site for the book is now online:

Second, I went to Martha's talk last week (thanks for the ticket Marcia), which might have been the first stop on the book tour. It was a great presentation: here are some of my notes.

  • In her previous books, she was focused on marketing but now she sees how things like 1to1 are affecting the entire organization.
  • If customers are not talking to each other, advertising is the critical factor for business success. If customers talk to each other, then customer experience is the most important factor. See Smart Marketing: Making Word-of-Mouth Work.
  • 3 rules to break: Marketing and sales can always get more customers, value comes from your products and services, and the best measure of success is your current sales and profit.
  • Steps to a good experience: Ask, remember and do something in return. The Goldfish principle: Dori on Nemo (no memory).
  • Examples of good experiences: Mayo clinic (carpenters to install ramps, not health care but what their customers/patients need), "Wardrobe management" by men (not just selling them clothes), Going from "explosives business" to "broken rock business".
  • Companies often optimize for making money (short term) but destroy value (long term). Example: a marketing campaign makes $250k but how many customers did it turn off / use up? "Guilty of committing mass marketing".
  • What if Apple and Nike teamed up to count your steps? And other examples to personalized products and services. See Frost & Sullivan: 1to1 Impact Awards for more.
  • Which is better investment? (a) Spend $10 per customer, make $10 profit each, 100% ROI. (b) Spend $20 per customer, make $15 profit each, 75% ROI.
  • The Internet: Increases importance of trust and reputation. Google "Yours is a very bad hotel".
  • Who (within the organization) has the goal of adding value to the customer?
  • Trust: it is good for business.
  • You can always get more capital; customers are the scarce resource.

(When looking for stuff for this blog entry, I also found Creating Customer Value: A (podcast) series with Peppers and Rogers which has many more nuggets. My favorite is in Volume 7: "A good experience is not just 1 piece of theater".)

Third, I am fortunate to now have a draft copy of the book, so I will start writing up reviews of pieces as I digest it. I am not sure yet what cadence will be best - chapter by chapter, the book all at once, themes across the whole book, etc.

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Nexus for Change II

It is time to start planning for Nexus for Change II, a conference at nearby Bowling Green State University (March 29 - April 1) about participative change methods. If you have been to a BarCamp or Unconference, you may have experienced one of these methods, Open Space Technology. The Word Cafe and Appreciative Inquiry are other change methods (buy The Change Handbook for even more).

The first two days of the conference is "Nexus U" - "U" for "university" and "you" - where you will learn the basics of whole system change principles and delve into a few of the methods. The 2nd half of the conference is about interacting with other professionals in this emerging community. And, of course, the conference has been designed by change agents to make sure you experience the methods as you share and learn about the methods.

Why would a user experience professional be interested in this conference? Many times organizational hurdles get in the way of quality user experiences. Fundamental changes in the business, processes or culture are needed in order to pull off what customers and other users need. User experience practitioners and information architects are becoming agents of change.

The Nexus for Change II conference is a way to learn about change methods and to immerse yourself in them. If we want to be change agents, we should learn from the professionals who specialize in it. Being able to better facilitate change will make you a more effective UX professional - just having the traditional user-centered design methods at your disposal are not enough.

I think user experience professionals can also contribute to the change methods toolbox. Often user research we do is a key aspect driving change (for example, when the Voice of the Customer is one of the compelling reasons for change in an IT organization). We also tend to be in tune with the impact of technology on change. If "improve the user experience or else we will go out of business" is what people are talking about within your company, then a combination of user experience and whole system change methods may be what you need.

I attended last year and will be there this year. Hope to see some of my UX friends there.

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Rules to break and laws to follow

I know I am not reading all of the business books a well-rounded user experience professional is supposed to read these days (in topics like business and design, change management, business of experience), but I have kept up with the "1 to 1" series by Martha Rogers and Don Peppers. The next installment is due out in February: Rules to Break and Laws to Follow.

This one looks like it will be right up my alley, knitting in many things I have learned while focused on web user experiences the last decade or so.

An excerpt from a recent 1to1 magazine article (you need an account to read the article online). Added emphasis is by me.

To succeed with your business today, you might need to start breaking some rules -- rules that for the past century or so have underpinned most businesses' efforts to grow, meet financial goals, and make shareholders happy.

As we scanned the business landscape researching our next book, it became apparent to us that new interactive and information technologies have created a dramatically different business environment -- an environment in which customers share information with other customers easily and efficiently, the pace of technological change is not just rapid but accelerating, and organizational structures are becoming less important as the lowliest employees can leap tall hierarchies in a single click.

They list three "rules to break" in the article:

  • The best measure of success for your business is current sales and profit. Short-term optimization leads to long-term problems. Give tools to your employees so they can provide a quality customer experience. And then trust them to do a good job. That will give you the customer trust you need for long-term success.
  • With the right sales and marketing effort, you can always get more customers. Customers are the scarce resource and now that they are all connected, you cannot focus on only the one-to-one relationship with a single customer. You need to address the social network around each customer.
  • Company value is created by offering differentiated products and services. Products and services are important, of course, but they mean nothing without customers. When you measure the value of your company based on your customers (instead of your inventory or revenue or costs), the customer experience becomes a key factor. A bad experience by a single customer: the value of your company goes down just a little bit. Good experience: value rises a little. The touch points all add up. We can track these small changes better now with technology. And because customers are so well connected to each other, a small pebble dropped in the customer experience pond can ripple out to a large wave.

I am looking forward to reading the other rules to break and which laws are still worth following. Some of the topics listed in the table of contents that sound interesting to me:

  • A "Perfect Storm" of New Technologies
  • Which Do You Choose? Customers or Money?
  • Treat Employees the Way You Want Them to Treat Customers
  • Galloping Decentralization Means Culture is More Important
  • Reputations Go Online
  • Technology Seen Through the Wrong End of the Telescope
  • Customer-Inspired Innovation
  • Technology, Progress, and Change
  • The Power of the Network

I notice that this book is published by Wiley, part of their "Microsoft Executive Leadership Series". This may be the first book in the series.

Finally, with a new book comes the book tour. I might get to attend the first stop, January 22, sponsored by the University of Toledo Center for Family Business. The talk will be at The Pinnacle, which is 1.8 miles away. It is nice that Martha starts her tour in her "hometown".

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