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Customer Experience and Design

Perficient Digital at World IA Day: Atlanta

For those of you who celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day, National Donut Day, or Pi Day, you’ll be pleased to know you can add a new one to your calendar: World IA Day.
On February 18th, 2017, Information Architecture (IA) was celebrated around the world at conferences ranging from Tokyo, Japan to Viña Del Mar, Chile. It was an opportunity to come together as a design community to learn from each other and show support for our evolving discipline.
Perficient Digital was a proud sponsor of World IA Day here in Atlanta, GA. The meetup was held at General Assembly in Ponce City Market, a retrofitted Sears & Roebuck factory building that has now become a design hub and meeting place for UXers to mingle and learn.
Designers gathered first to hear Lightning talks from four different community leaders: Brian Anderson, Rich Goidel, Colleen Jones, and Josh Teague.
Brian Anderson spoke to us about the importance of design thinking and learning within your company’s internal operations. He stressed that design thinking was an important part of training for Cox Communication employees and that it had even been used to assess internal design challenges. Design shouldn’t just be applied to client projects when it can benefit a company’s own process. All employees can benefit from critical thinking and creative exercises, not just designers.
Rich Goidel, an author in design, facilitation, and productive meetings gave us an overview on some of the resources that he had come across and found particularly helpful in his day-to-day. Rich spoke to us about the ability to communicate effectively with our team members and to have productive and successful meetings by staying organized, following rules, and being specific about goals. He recommended books such as: Great Meetings, Game Storming, Thinkertoys, Back of the Napkin, and Catalyst Cards to assist in group communication.
Colleen Jones, CEO of Content Science spoke to us about the role of content in Information Architecture and how important it was to consider during product development. She had noticed a shift in content over the past few years that had caused certain companies to become what she called “disruptors” in the content field. Disruptor companies such as HubSpot, Uber, Netflix, and Zendesk treated content in a new way and caused a shift that integrated content to align with customer experience and business goals. Other companies had to adapt to keep up and certain companies did so successfully such as Dell, Intel, IBM, and Amazon.
Josh Teague spoke to us about the importance of team dynamic to the success of a project. He introduced us to the “Bow Tie Theory.” This theory visualizes that some members of a team are looking for the best possible solution to a problem regardless of plausibility and reality. Other members of the team are strongly grounded in what is safe and realistic and struggle to explore new ideas. Having both types of people on a team is a good thing and helps a solution to resolve itself in the middle of the “bow” being a compromise of the two.

Keynote speaker, Andrew Hinton from State Farm, spoke to us about the importance of information simulation in our industry. He stressed that it was important for us to portray what is “true” in our work and that the information does not get misconstrued or misunderstood to mean something different. The news is no longer controlled by professional publishers and journalists who have conducted research and found sources, it is something that can be created and consumed by almost anyone via the internet. This has been a challenge for Facebook and Google to assess how to keep their product “true” and to prevent misinformation of users. He stressed that our role as Information Architects is to bring clarity and understanding to ambiguity.
Lastly, there was a student panel from Georgia Tech that specialized in Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) development. They spoke to us about the challenges and successes in the adaptation of VR and AR in consumer applications. They remained optimistic of their usefulness and gave examples of surgeons using VR for training purposes. They also spoke about the challenges of “wireframing” environments within virtual reality. The 3D space of a virtual environment necessitates adaptation of our current processes. These technologies are starting to show their usefulness in a variety of spaces ranging from consumer furniture shopping to military training. We hope to learn how this new world of possibilities can become successful products for our customers and friends.
Overall, the day was a great reminder that information architects have a responsibility to present information in a way that can be understood easily, minimizing the chance for misconstrued facts. There’s a deep responsibility that comes along with the potential damage of not doing our jobs well, and that responsibility is something that should be treated with the utmost integrity and respect.

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