In TUG Talks
Summary: Jessica DuVerneay shares the top Information Architecture lessons she learned in 2013: Placemaking, bottom-up problem solving, and asking dumb questions.

I was asked to give a 10-minute lightning talk for the Detroit User Experience Meetup’s Digital Rendezvous on the top 10 user interface things I learned in 2013. Taking some liberties, I chose instead to talk about the top three things I learned about Information Architecture.

My intention was to give the attendees of the talk info on what lessons I learned, why it was important, who and where I learned the info, and (being a former reference librarian) credible resources to go further and educate themselves if so inclined.

My Top Three IA Lessons in 2013

1. Let’s talk about placemaking: We increasingly do not make websites – we make places made of information. Considering what types of places we make are important, and a way to open these conversations is through using the Placemaking Taxonomy introduced by Abby Covert at Midwest UX in 2013.

2. Bottom up is sometimes the way to go when problem solving: When creating a taxonomy, I previously had the misconception that starting from the top and working down was the way to go. After some conversation with Dan Cooney at TUG, I came to accept that sometimes bottom up is more appropriate, and actually fun (more on that conversation here). Though I learned this lesson while working on taxonomy, this type of flexible thinking can apply to a variety of IA activities.

3. Ask the dumb questions: Referencing Dan Klyn’s recent work on Richard Saul Wurman presented at Adaptive Path’s UX Week, I encouraged the audience to be humble and smart enough to ask seemingly dumb questions and eschew the trendy practice of claiming false (or limiting) unicorn-ism. Dumb questions help us take the pretense out of our engagements with each other and our clients, and lend themselves to better, deeper understanding of problem spaces.

The event also featured top 10 talks by Team Detroit’s UX Research Director, Jodi Bollaert, and Darren Hood, Senior UX Researcher with Cengage Learning. Thanks to Vitamin T for sponsoring this fun event!

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