Game-like Elicitation Methods (GEMS) for user research

So the brilliant Rashmi Sinha of Uzanto has launched MindCanvas, a new user research tool that uses game-like activities instead of traditional surveys to gather user research data. This is combined with expert data analysis from Uzanto (which will limit scalability of the service, but provide significant insights well beyond an automated collection of graphs).

I've been thinking about design games from a business stakeholder perspective for the past year or so, and it's interesting to see Rashmi's take on design games for participatory design with users.

Congrats to the Uzanto team for shipping, best of luck!

Visual Complexity

Scrumptious information visualization from the Visual Complexity website...found via xblog, I think. (I confess, it's just a tab that's been open for over a week in FireFox, so I'm not sure.)

UXMatters, a new publication for user experience professionals

So the launch of UXMatters happened during DUX...there's some good content from familiar names there...check it out, particularly Dan Brown's article on IA 2.0 (as ridiculous as version numbers are unless there was an actual v. 1.0, there's a lot to think about how IA responds to new mindsets and technologies.)

Registration open for User Interfaces for Physical Spaces

This is an event I wish I could make - User Interfaces for Physical Spaces is a day long workshop detailing MAYA Design's work with the Carnegie Library to transform the physical and information spaces. In the process, they also had to tackle culture and business strategy, too. Fascinating case study, with field trips to project sites and detailed explanations at MAYA's offices. Coproduced by the IA Institute, the event is $200 for members, and $250 for non-members, and runs Monday, December 12.

IA Event in Italy

Luca Rosetti and Emanuele Quintarelli have gotten together to organize an Italian IA Summit (Italian only) - looks like a good follow on to the EuroIA conference where not a lot of Latin countries were represented.

Tagging tags to create synonyms

Gene Smith talks about a project we did at work that actually uses tagging tags for good use.

DUX 2005 underway

The second DUX conference is underway in San Francisco. The opening plenary was amazing, with a fascinating talk on the Language of the Body by Tony award winning actor Bill Irwin. We're in sessions now, and there's lots of intersting cases and questions.

There's a growing pool of photos on Flickr, and podcasts are coming.

IA Manifesto 2.0

From the recent East Coast IA Retreat comes a low-fi sketch of IA Manifesto 2.0 (I had nothing to do with creating it, but it struck a chord with me)

1. we need bad theory (comes before good theory)
2. We will not discuss definitions.
3. What do we do with RSS?
4. We talk and talk about how to document ajax interactions... but not about
what it means
5. Need to leave the website behind.
6. We will not discuss deliverables.
7. An IA comic book?
8. need to re-integrate with the rest of the world
9. deliverables are decoys while we're figuring out what we're doing
10. every 2 hours, there shall be 1/2 hour of non-ia talk
11. we're in a position to make a difference, but not doing much about it
12. all the interesting stuff is happening outside of ia
13. we are web 1.0
14. we're stuck in our (well paying) client relationships
15. we need to be unemployed again to innovate
16. we're conservatives at heart. Paying the bills.
17. we're not discussing cool new ideas, we discuss wireframes.
18. we're too good at what we do right now
19. we're dinosaurs
20. ...and tagging is a small, furry animal
21. in other words, if a comet was to crash, we'd be fucked.
22. if we build consensus within IA, we're doing something wrong
23. the IA putch is very close to being screwed
24. IA's might have to stop being generalists
25. or become more generalist again.

Andrew Hinton took a pretty good swing at a manifesto a few years back.

User Interfaces for Physical Spaces

MAYA Design and the IA Institute are hosting a day long workshop User Interfaces for Physical Spaces on Monday, December 12 in Pittsburgh. The workshop will showcase MAYA's work redesigning the physical and information space of the Carnegie Library...if you haven't had the chance to look at MAYA's slides from Adaptive Path's User Experience Week, it's a fascinating blend of physical and information architecture (Scroll to the bottom of Aradhana's bio page for links to the presentation).

The workshop will include field trips to various library branches as well as time at MAYA's offices in Pittsburgh. Cost is $200 for IA Institute members, or $250 for non-members (hint: IAI membership is $40 and gets you in to DUX at a reduced rate too). Registration will open soon - in the meantime, hold the date.

Free Usability Advice Blog publicly launches

Expero has launched a new blog at Free Usability Advice. With folks like John Morkes, a regular speaker at NNGroup events, you're getting free advice from world leading practitioners. In the multitude of UX blogs, this is definitely one to watch. Kudos to Dave Crow for putting it together.

Peter Morville's new book Ambient Findability finally available

Congratulations to Peter on a book that expands on information architecture to look at human information interaction. If you order from Amazon using this link for Ambient Findability, Peter will get a little something extra for the sale...and given that IA book writing doesn't pay that well, it's well deserved.

Does tagging lower costs of classification, but raise costs of finding information?

Gene Smith riffs on Ian Davis' take on why tagging is expensive. In a nutshell, the lower costs of classification are traded for higher costs in finding content. Gene makes much more sense of it than just that, though. At the end of the day, as with so many things, tagging is a great tool, but not a silver bullet.

Sneak Peek at 'Everything is Miscellaneous'

David Weinberger, (author of Cluetrain Manifesto and Small Things Loosley Joined) gives us a sneak peek at where he's going with his latest book Everything is Miscellaneous...a treat for IAs that won't get published until late 2006/early 2007.

More on rapid prototyping for IAs

Heidi Adkinnson takes a longer look at Serena ProcessView Composer and Axure RP She also mentions that ConceptDraw has a new release coming up with WebWave.

Besides Heidi's take, Microsoft has developed a new tool for UX developers codenamed Sparkle. This Channel 9 video has an hour long segment on Sparkle. This is a tool to create UI that can be reused in .NET development, instead of throwing away comps and prototypes...looks very interesting.

New to IA

I am a web department manager / interactive producer who is looking to transition into information architecture and would like recommendations on certification or other avenues for more education. I have conducted user testing, and provide wire frames and flowcharts to the design team I manage for ecommerce websites. I've been working in interactive for 10 years, but my focus has been more on account management and consulting and I'm soft on design. I would like to expand my UI skills and hope to get an entry level IA position in the Chicago area.

At this point I'm not sure where to start. This is a rather new field. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

[editor: This is an excellent question - How can people get into IA? Comments appreciated!]

Axure RP Pro: Rapid prototyping and documentation tool for website applications

I don't do as much formal specification writing these days as I used to, but I've been noticing some promising software for prototyping and specification writing lately. Could be that I've become so entrenched in the Visio world that I never pick my head up to take notice any more.

I downloaded the demo version of Axure RP ($589 for Pro, $149 for Lite version) after quickly viewing their Flash demo. This Windows only tool allows you to build a page hierarchy for a site and then design the pages by dragging and dropping widgets (like Visio stencil objects) onto the wireframe pane. As with Visio, you can link widgets to other pages and then generate the document as an HTML prototype. What intrigued me most was the Microsoft Word specification document that it produces, providing the wireframes with notes for all of the page objects.

Software like this seems like a real time saver for rapid development, which is the kind of work I've been doing a lot of lately without the actual prototyping bit. That is to say, I turn over informal specs and wireframes on short schedules. To be able to handle all of these tasks in one tool seems great. Anyone have any experience using this or similar tools? Which do you like best?

Roundtable: KM collaboration with outside counsel

On October 18, Julie Mazza, formerly Manager of Law Firm Partnering at DuPont and now Director of Legal Expense Control at Citigroup, will share her experiences in an informal roundtable at the offices of Weil, Gotshal & Manges in New York. Space is limited. For details, see http://www.montague.com/rou ndtable25.htm

In the early 1990's, DuPont began to look for ways to reduce its legal costs and leverage the know-how of its legal suppliers, especially outside counsel. The company created a new way of working that shifts the focus from processing lawsuits to resolving the corporate client's business problems.

The result was the DuPont Legal Model, which includes strategic partnering, early case assessment, use of technology, alternative fee arrangements, and strategic budgeting. Information technology is used for electronic invoicing, integrated case management, electronic research (discovery), and document imaging. DuPont's cost savings are in the range of $ 8 million to $ 12 million per year. This is knowledge management in action with measurable results.

This event will be of special interest to legal information practitioners in both corporate legal departments and law firms. Others will benefit by learning more about a professional services collaboration model that successfully combines technology, strategy, fees and incentives, and training.

See also our article, "Managing knowledge in law firms: is it really different?"

Remember that this is not a training session. It's a discussion forum for experienced practitioners.

The roundtable will be offered in both face-to-face and teleconference format. The cost for face-to-face attendees is $600 for members of the Society of Knowledge Base Publishers ($850 for nonmembers). The cost for teleconference attendees is $700 (members), $950 (nonmembers)

Sliders are the key

At dinner a couple weeks ago when I was in SF, David Weinberger and Peter Merholz came up with the silver bullet of interaction design: Sliders! All interaction that is a selection should be a slider! Amazon is on the same wavelength, their new AJAX diamond search is sliderlicious heaven! [update: this is all in fun, sliders do have issues, see comments for more.]

Seriously, it's a great AJAX example. Still seriously, there's issues (like showing active options that don't actually exist - set the price to $100-$1000, and the next slider, for carats, doesn't show you what the carat range is that intersects with the 'under a thousand dollar' price. Greying out the inapplicable options, and moving the slider to the top of the actual carat range of sub-$1000 rocks would be good).

IA Discuss group on Flickr

The Information Architecture group started by EmWi on Flickr never took off, but snowcrash has started the IA Discuss group to share screenshots of UI widgets, deliverables and such. It's an idea similar to Christina's Widgetopia, but on Flickr. Jess wanted to something like this a few years ago on this site, but we never go to it. Flickr seems the easiest place to do it. Not sure why no one has bothered to make use of the Information Architecture Flickr group like this before.

Enterprise Metadata Blog

Enterprise Metadata Blog by R. Todd Stephens

Todd has got a nice mix of enterprise metadata from both theory and practice since he did his dissertation at the same as working at Bell South on real enterprise metadata needs. He has presented at several conferences involving both the more techie stuff at DAMA International as well as Dublin Core and other related conferences. I believe this intesection of the techie/practical world and the theory/academic world gives us a good mix of the challenges we face at managing information systems. He's definitely in the mix of things I'd like to be involved. It will be interesting to see where his blog goes in sharing his experiences. Many of his previous presentations and handouts are also available on his site.