Some short notes from the 2012 IA Summit.

From time to time, I’ll jot short ideas down in a notebook I have. Here are some of them from the IA Summit.

IA Summit logo

These are bigger kinds of process and design concepts that I don’t want to forget. For instance, I got the idea somewhere of focusing on existing problems rather than trying to design for problems you think users may have. I wrote it down and try to keep it in mind.

I was super happy to have the chance to attend the IA Summit this weekend, where I was able to meet some awesome people and learn a lot. In the spirit of not forgetting, I thought I’d post something I picked up (or, put down) from a handful of the talks I saw.

Designing for Complexity by Nadine Schaeffer

Paraphrasing Daniel Kahneman, Nadine said that humans prefer the speedy and effortless fast thinking (e.g., 2+2=4 or walking down steps), but slow thinking is more accurate. The world is a complex place. Complexity shouldn’t be treated like a four-letter word. Instead, we should design to help users make sense of it.

Managing Difficult Client Situations by Dan Brown

Let’s stop fearing conflict and start treating it as an opportunity. As long as we can be productive with it in our projects, conflict will force us into a shared understanding at all of these little points along the way. Bonus: Get Dan’s Surviving Design Projects game for specific ideas and tactics.

Information Overload is an Opportunity by Karl Fast

Information is cheap. Understanding is expensive. (Use filters and encourage deeper interaction to help people get meaning from all this information.)

Deconstructing Delight: Pleasure, Flow & Meaning by Dana Chisnell

Ask yourself how your design fits into someone’s beautiful day. How can your design make that day better? Help people feel pleasure by showing consideration, anticipating users’ needs and responding to context.

A Process for Designing for Fun by Deb Gelman

Be sure to define “fun” with clients before trying to design for it. They may have a different idea of what it really is.

Filtered & Refined: Interfaces for Distilling Data by Erin Jo Richey

Systems with lots of search options and filters replace some of the mental work we normally have to do (like holding extra details in our heads). Giving people the right information at the right times helps them make decisions.

Seven Deadly Mobile Myths by Josh Clark

All seven of these ideas are so important and bold I’ll just link to the slides themselves. But an overarching point that struck me was that in mobile interfaces, clarity trumps density. (Less is more.)

Sidenote: I was able to chat with Josh after his talk and he’s as nice and smart offline as he is online.

What’s Your Perception Strategy? by Stephen P Anderson

Our brains are built to resolve visual conflict by matching things up based on our experience and understanding. After going through lots of great examples, Stephen said that when he’s explaining a new concept to people, he’ll anchor it to one people understand (“this is sort of like an instant messaging app,” or, more humorously, “these are ‘cucumber chips’, kids.”

Adapting Ourselves to Adaptive Content by Karen McGrane 

We need to be better about creating clean, structured content that can flow into a whole number of devices. It starts by creating well-defined, well-tagged chunks of information rather than big, undifferentiated blobs of content.


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