Monthly Archives: March 2009

UX Health Check poster from the IA Summit 2009

UX Health Check Poster

In addition to the first presentation we’ve ever given outside corporate quarters about the UX Health Check, Austin also created this awesome poster to show people what the UX Health Check is all about. You can download the full poster PDF for your enjoyment: UX Health Check Poster (IA Summit 2009) .

If you know of any photos floating out there from the poster sessions that show this poster, please let us know in the comments! We want to show our wives that we really were there :D

Introducing the User Experience Health Check

Today we introduced the User Experience Health Check during the 10th Information Architecture Summit in Memphis, TN. It is great to see this technique out there and available so other people can try it out and see if it works for their contexts.

Here is the presentation (slightly updated so it makes sense for people who were not present during the session):

Please let us know what you think. We are happy to answer any questions or help you get started on your own. The only value of a technique like this is if people use it and get something out of it. Please use it until it break and help us evolve it!

We’ll post the audio when we find out how to get it from the awesome people from Boxes & Arrows who recorded the entire IA Summit for podcasts.

We will also share the spreadsheet template where you capture all the capabilities, scores and benchrmarks so you can make the most minimal effort to give your first try at the UX Health Check :)

Why I’m looking forward to the IA Summit 2009

Every year is the same thing. I know I will enjoy the IA Summit immensely but it’s not until a week or so before that I get really psyched about attending. This year was no different and today was the day I woke up hoping I was already there.

Since 2004 the IA Summit has been my favorite conference to attend for a number of reasons (it’s been going since 2000 though, I just had not had the opportunity to attend before then). The quality of the content always meets my needs, the diversity of people I meet is just the right mix of new contacts and familiar faces and the atmosphere is consistently welcoming and conducive of great conversations and ideas.

This year is particularly exciting for many reasons, chiefly because it is the 10 year anniversary of the IA Summit! What a great landmark for our practice that we have been going strong for a decade. This makes me proud about our past and excited about our future.

I am also involved in so much stuff that I know I won’t have a minute to rest; I’ll probably need a day off to recuperate after Memphis. Here are a few things I am looking forward to (that I hope I get to see you involved in):

1. I’m giving a workshop on behalf of the IA Institute – The workshop is titled Beyond Findability: Reframing IA Practice & Strategy for Turbulent Times. I am really looking forward to it and I know it will be a blast presenting with with Andrew Hinton, Matt Milan and Joe Lamantia. We will focus on practical advice to help peers elevate their IA practice and expand the boundaries of how IA is applied today. There are still a few spots left if you want to come; Wednesday 3/18 from 9:00am to 5:00pm.

2. I’m presenting a new tool: The UX Health Check – After almost two years of working with a new approach originated by the fantastic Austin Govella, we are finally going to expose it to a broader audience. Initially we proposed a workshop but given the novelty, we are doing a presentation and a poster. Come check it out Friday (3/20) at 5:45 in the Tennessee Exhibit Hall during the Poster Session and Sunday (3/22) at 11:45 in the Grand Salon A.

3. The Wall of Deliverables is back! – After a successful prototype in 2008, Jacco, Nathan and I decided to do it again and up the stakes one more time. This year people can submit online at and we have some amazing prizes lined up for the best of the best!

4. I’ll get to talk to everyone about the great things the IA Institute has been doing – Though my 2008 contribution in the IA Institute board of directors only started in October, I’ll have the opportunity to report on all the great stuff the IAI accomplished last year and have a conversation with our membership about where we are going next. Please join us Saturday 3/21 at 6:00pm (location TBD)!

5. We are doing a fun Board Game Night! – We have been discussing this since forever so I am excited we are making it happen! Come have fun with us Saturday evening (3/21), in the Skyway Room.

I really enjoyed reviewing submissions this year and feel like the program is very strong. This will also be my first time in Memphis so I am looking forward to visiting Graceland and the Civil Rights Museum.

There is so much I’m looking forward to (all the items I listed above don’t do justice to the amount of stuff that is actually going to take place – I was even promised knitting lessons from some master knitters!), so I hope you are feeling as energized and ready to rock as I am. See you in Memphis!

What gets you out of bed every morning

My dear friend Rene de Paula asked me yesterday: “Does your entire object of work (internet, e.g.) still excite you in the same way it did years ago?”. I had an immediate answer: YES. And then I re-read it and thought about what that really means and started to see some significant differences in what that emphatic yes meant when I started this and what it means now.

When you ask yourself ‘what inspires you’ or ‘what drives you’, what are the things that come to mind? Recently I spent the weekend in Pittsburgh indulging myself in a two-day workshop dedicated entirely to thinking about my work and myself. That was one of the hard questions I tried to answer and after much writing and exploring, realized that the key thing that excites me in the world and inspired me, is potential.

I don’t come to work to make money (though after a couple of years of Suze Orman I’m learning that’s more important than I’ve given it credit – a post for another time). I come to work every day because of the potential I see in myself, the potential I see in the people I work with and the potential I see in the services we create. I am really attracted to potential outcomes.

That was an interesting realization because it made me think that while people always appreciate my creativity and ability to consider complex and numerous scenarios, I think it is a key aspect of my personality (and skill set ?), which powers my ability to self-motivate and be a self-starter.

I don’t need much incentive to get on with an idea. I just need enough to glimpse into the future and see what it might look like realized. And that’s what really excited me when I started working with the Web. Most of us didn’t really know where this was going and we were all very excited about it.

I saw opportunities, rewarding challenges and the potential for something unlike anything I had ever seen. I am not saying I was some neo-Nostradamus and had concrete images of what the web would be today – For example, I thought emails were awesome, but expected it to remain a niche thing adopted mostly by geeks – but there was so much unexplored and so much to learn merely by just showing up that it was impossible not to dream of the possibilities in an almost constant state of excitement.

So what is different now? The Internet has changed and so have I – and it is precisely the new aspects of that original potential that keep me excited today. I don’t see the potential of the Web as this broad, unexplored, fuzzy thing, where the excitement came from the very fact that anything was possible. For example, I don’t think of the Internet as a destination, which is how I understood it when I first came to it.

I also used to understand the Internet as a communication channel, but now I see it more as a collection of distributed tools (basically re-framing my understanding from “an end” to “a bunch of means”). And because I don’t see it as a destination, a place, my understanding of a distributed set of tools dissociated of place came to be. Clearly I don’t even gave good enough words to describe what I mean, but the fact that I can articulate the difference, shows me that what I am seeing is the new potential I found in it, not the actual or concrete artifacts or instantiations of what it is today.

I don’t think I would still be excited about working with the Web if it had realized the way I (sort of) envisioned it. Had it become only this destination (which it is in part) today, I am certain my interested would have diminished and I would be looking for potential elsewhere.

Likewise, I changed in ways I did not plan. For example, if you asked me if I would be interested in attending a workshop to discuss what I want and what is my purpose, I would have laughed right at ya. I used to be all about doing stuff (not necessarily asking if it was the stuff I wanted to do). And even if people thought I asked great questions and always looked a things from a holistic perspective, I like to think I was able to expand that perspective, in not just being able to see more, but remembering that seeing is not the only sense I have.