Last week I hit Toronto for three workshops organized by Rosenfeld Media. Since I had to fly to Toronto to do them, it only made sense to do all three. My main purpose was, admittedly, to take Lou Rosenfeld’s Adaptable Information Architecture workshop, but I ended up with three very full days, the central theme of which was essentially to become leaner and more agile, and in the process, more productive.
Anders Ramsay was really an unknown entity for me as I got to day three. Like the other two workshops, this one was based on his book of the same name, though this one is yet-to-be published in 2013. The nice thing about Anders’ workshop is that, where the other two focused on ways of improving existing designs or those in progress, Designing with Agile was really about turning traditional initial design approaches on their collective heads.
Lou Rosenfeld has been a well-known information architect for many years, with a strong and varied consulting background. Back in the 90’s he wrote what is still likely considered THE bible on IA (and a must read for anyone who does this stuff). Organizing content for a web build, designing navigation, labeling, application and user flows, and page layouts are the types of things I’ve probably done for the longest, going back well over a decade, so IA is still what I think of as my bread and butter.
While I have used both open and closed card sorts, and other tools such as personas and basic web analytics to good effect, I’ve always felt my IA toolkit to be a little weak. This workshop really focused on the topic of Lou’s latest book, Search Analytics for Your Site, and gave me some great insights into things I can do almost immediately, to not only improve my practice, but to hopefully have a positive impact on our main web property in a more rapid and iterative fashion.
Steve Krug has written two well-received books about usability, Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability and
Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems. This workshop was based entirely upon the second book and dealt with making usability testing as simple as possible and weaving it into your monthly design operational cycle. In fact, the book is really the script for the workshop/course that Steve does. The material was pretty much perfect for me, as I’ve been kvetching about not being able to do exactly this as a routine part of our cycles at BCIT.
As my work straddles being a UX designer and project lead, I spend my time in bits and pieces of both without doing either as well or thoroughly as I’d like. My experience leading usability tests has typically been to bring in several users at once and conduct them with at least one observer in the same room. I haven’t typically used screen capture software, but used a combination of observer notes and audio recording, strongly encouraging participants to use think aloud to provide feedback as they complete tasks from the test script.
I can’t imagine too many things more degenerate than the behaviour of a group of people at a rave in Pitt Meadows a week ago. A 16 year old girl was drugged and gang-raped while a sicko took photographs. One of the rapists and the photographer have since been arrested after, in particular, the photos were shared on Facebook. Facebook authorities have removed the photos, but police suggest they will be in circulation for some time, due to the nature of the Internet.
Let alone the kind of people who would drug and gang-rape a teenage girl, what kind of person takes photos of the act and later distributes them? What kind of people circulate and enjoy looking at that kind of thing? Police were rightly horrified at the disregard for the girl and have asked that people stop sharing the photos, while suggesting that continuing to do so constitutes distribution of child pornography. As already noted, by that time the photos had been viewed and downloaded and the damage had largely been done. I can’t disagree with any of that. What I’d like to say at this point, though, is that Facebook, or social media in general, is not the issue here. Not for one minute.