The theme for this year's IA Summit was designing cross-channel systems and user experiences. The presentations ranged from the practical to far reaching "let's change society" presentations. I wanted to share four very practical presentations that showed techniques or deliverables you could try today.

  1. Collaging – Getting the Answers to the Questions You Don't Know How to Ask
  2. Modeling Systems for IA – The Experience Journey Report
  3. Sketchnoting – The How and the Why
  4. Mapping the Experience – A Guide to Creating a Great Experience Map
  1. Collaging – Getting the Answers to the Questions You Don't Know How to Ask

    Kyle Soucy of Usable Interface presented a technique that involves getting interview participants to create visual collages in response to a research question. Participants pair each picture with a written caption that explains why the picture describes their response. Her example at the IA Summit was: "Select pictures that describe your Facebook experience".

    The purpose of the technique is to elicit responses from participants that you might not have known to ask. Some of the picture choices and captions may bring up issues not anticipated by the researcher.

    This technique is very useful when discussing difficult subject matter (she has used it to interview people that are in chronic pain), but it is equally applicable for topics such as "select pictures that describe your morning commute".

    Check out her IA Summit presentation and also Kyle's excellent article for Smashing Magazine about the technique.

  2. Modeling Systems for IA – The Experience Journey Report

    Søren Muus of FatDUX described a combined set of five tools that comprise a deliverable they refer to as the Experience Journey Report. This report is generated from the first working session with a new client. The session lasts approximately three hours and is with all of the major stakeholders and executives in attendance. The report is used as a launching point to define the future scope of work and continue the relationship with the client.

    Their Experience Journey Report consists of five deliverables:

    1. Business Model Canvas – details the company's business model
    2. Persona Templates – profiles typical users of a company's services/product
    3. Experience Scope Graph – describes the touchpoints that occur before, during, and after the events of the experience
    4. Journey Script – chronicles everything about each event, the journey, backstory, who's involved, possible outcomes, and the actions taken
    5. Touchpoint Matrix – lists all of the touchpoints of a customer's journey no matter how large or small

    Check out Søren's presentation if you're curious about what the deliverables look like and some additional background.

  3. Sketchnoting – The How and the Why

    Veronica Erb of EightShapes presented on Sketchnoting, a technique to transform line-by-line notes (a lot like the ones I usually take) into visually engaging, through-provoking works of note-art! She gave a great overview of the basics in her presentation at the IA Summit. If you would like to see more examples of this technique you can search Flickr for the tag Sketchnotes or head to the Sketchnote Army for more motivation. This technique definitely takes practice and planning, but is a great way to internalize presentations as you take notes and share with others.

  4. Mapping the Experience – A Guide to Creating a Great Experience Map

    The final deliverable I'd like to share is Chris Risdon of Adaptive Path's presentation called Mapping the Experience. By now you've probably seen Adaptive Path's Rail Europe Experience Map, (if not, it's definitely worth having a look). The presentation showed some of the processes and thinking that Adaptive Path underwent to arrive at this deliverable, dissected each piece, and relayed its importance.

    An Experience Map is important for maintaining momentum on a project. It's meant to be, as Chris explains "a catalyst that influences strategy and tactics...it's never meant to be a conclusion". It can be used as motivation for the current work initiatives, updated to reflect changing opportunities, and takes everyone with you on the journey to improve the customer's journey.

These four highlights were just a taste of the fantastic presentations at the conference. I would definitely encourage you to check out the conference in the future (already set for April 3-7, 2013 in Baltimore, MD).

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