Making Sense of Place (MidwestUX 2013 Keynote)

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The number of places you must create to reach an audience efficiently is increasing every day. Where we used to be satisfied with simple site maps and flow diagrams, we now need to map the "experience …

The number of places you must create to reach an audience efficiently is increasing every day. Where we used to be satisfied with simple site maps and flow diagrams, we now need to map the "experience of a user" with consideration of the many places they might interact in and contexts they might be in when doing so. Placemaking is a term that began to be used in the 1970s by architects and planners to describe the process of creating places like squares, plazas, and parks, within cities, counties and townships.

The concept behind it is pretty basic: the meaning of the place we are making changes slightly with each object we place within it, and the location we give to those objects relative to one another. There is a tendency to think: I am just working on the mobile site or I’m just doing a search feature or I’m just redesigning this one form. And I am not saying we need to overly complicate design. But I do think in this world of increasing connections across channels and contexts, we need to start talking about what place it is that we are working on as it relates to the rest of the ecosystem we are within.

When it comes to place making we are lacking a taxonomy for discussing and planning at the various and interconnected levels of place that we see across the digital and physical divide. We need to be able to discuss the places that exist between the objects and the ecosystem.

In this keynote presentation, I outline a controlled vocabulary and taxonomic approach to talking about the concept of placemaking.

More in: Technology , Education
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Transcript

  • 1. Making Sense of Place by @Abby_the_IA
  • 2. Information Architecture (IA) is a practice of making sense
  • 3. Skeletons in My closet • • I cut placemaking from my Parsons IA class last year because I worried it was over their heads Until last year, I had never discussed placemaking with my clients for the same reason (sorry Andrea resmini)
  • 4. “If you can’t say something that is clear, don’t say anything at all” - Me
  • 5. Why talking about Place is so unclear
  • 6. Sense of place is wrapped up in the metaphors of our daily lives
  • 7. “There is no there, there.” - Gertrude Stein
  • 8. How do we discuss place without sounding like a hippie?
  • 9. How do we make sense of the places we work on and within?
  • 10. on Today’s Agenda: Make sense of “Place” 1. Share how I *now* teach the considerations for place in my Information Architecture classes 2. Provide a framework for thinking about and talking about the places we affect with our work 3. Ask for your help in convincing businesses and organizations that place is an important consideration set to have, especially in digital work
  • 11. Meet my students
  • 12. 5 ways that organizations Can act like art students 1. Not good at setting meaningful goals and sticking to them 2. Don't want to talk about the problem, they want to solve it 3. Think scope grows on trees, even though they know money doesn't 4. Fail to understand how one decision can affect the whole ecosystem maybe even the world 5. Expect a ton from digital but are willing to do very little towards that end
  • 13. 2004 Users are interacting with our designs in more places everyday Consideration of place is more important in our work now then ever before. 2013
  • 14. People prefer The easy road
  • 15. There is More than one way to Design a cafe (or app or site or event or)
  • 16. There is discovery involved in finding the right way to solve a problem
  • 17. Spoons Lost 12 a month
  • 18. Spoons Lost 144 a year 12 a month
  • 19. Spoons Lost 576 since 2009 144 a year 12 a month
  • 20. “Move the $#% Spoons” - Your mom
  • 21. Moving the spoons could make things worse
  • 22. Common Failures in digital placeMaking • Adding signs to point out things that people don't see or don’t understand • Providing functionality that is confusing or leads to results that are out of line with what they want of their customers • Trying the same tactics for solving a problem over and over and being surprised when it still doesn't work • Designing user experiences that aren't considerate of those who work there • Not seeing the problem with this disconnected and out of whack way of thinking
  • 23. What is Placemaking?
  • 24. What is Your Place? • • • • What places are within your control? Who controls the places that your places are within or connected to? What places are likely to be affected directly? Which places indirectly? What considerations need to be part of your process for affecting these places?
  • 25. Objects aid us in discourse
  • 26. Stills from the Eames classic film “Powers of 10”
  • 27. “Since our technical systems are wholly mixed up with our natural systems, that creates additional levels of complexity. In order to design within these confounding contexts, we need to be able to scale up and scale down as we design: to consider both the granularity of the things we are designing as well as the much larger contexts within which they exist.” “The Eames have simply illustrated the conundrum; it is our responsibility to figure out what to do next.” - Jamer Hunt, Director of Transdisciplinary Design at Parsons the New School for Design http://www.fastcodesign.com/1662461/how-to-apply-eamess-legendary-powers-of-10-to-real-life-problems
  • 28. it is far too common to focus on the spoon & ignore the coffee shop
  • 29. We need a controlled vocabulary and taxonomic Approach for discussing “Place”
  • 30. Ecosystem > System > Structure > Journey > Location > Context > User > Interface > Interaction > Object Ecosystem A complex collection of systems “A large pharmaceutical organization”
  • 31. Ecosystem > System > Structure > Journey > Location > Context > User > Interface > Interaction > Object System A set of interacting structures “Providing Information to Patients”
  • 32. Ecosystem > System > Structure > Journey > Location > Context > User > Interface > Interaction > Object Structure A configuration of objects “Patient Website”
  • 33. Ecosystem > System > Structure > Journey > Location > Context > User > Interface > Interaction > Object Journey Traveling within or between locations “Explore Website”
  • 34. Ecosystem > System > Structure > Journey > Location > Context > User > Interface > Interaction > Object Location A particular position “Request Information”
  • 35. Ecosystem > System > Structure > Journey > Location > Context > User > Interface > Interaction > Object Context circumstances that form the setting for an interaction “Using an iPad to view a website while making list of action steps to take”
  • 36. Ecosystem > System > Structure > Journey > Location > Context > User > Interface > Interaction > Object User a person who interacts with an object “Anxious, newly prescribed, already confused”
  • 37. Ecosystem > System > Structure > Journey > Location > Context > User > Interface > Interaction > Object Interface a point where interaction occurs between user and object “Request Information Form”
  • 38. Ecosystem > System > Structure > Journey > Location > Context > User > Interface > Interaction > Object Interaction the way in which user and object affect one another “Clicking a button”
  • 39. Ecosystem > System > Structure > Journey > Location > Context > User > Interface > Interaction > Object Object Something that can be seen and touched “a button”
  • 40. Questions we should be asking...
  • 41. How affecting is the work you do on other places in the ecosystem?
  • 42. What are the systems you are working within?
  • 43. What structures are needed to support each part of that system?
  • 44. What journeys might a user take through each structure?
  • 45. What locations might users encounter on each journey?
  • 46. What contexts might users find themselves in when within each location?
  • 47. What do users expect of each location?
  • 48. What interface best supports the intended interactions with each object within each location?
  • 49. Help!
  • 50. Help us all by Facilitating the Understanding of the levels between the object and the ecosystem
  • 51. Explain the role of your frameworks and tools Level Appropriate Framework Ecosystem = Controlled Vocabulary, Venn Diagram System = Swim Lane Diagram, Gantt Charts Structure = Hierarchy Maps, Site Map Journey = Journey Maps Location = Flow Diagrams, Block Diagrams Context = Scenarios User = Personas Interface = Wireframes, Schematics Interaction = Specifications Object = Screens, Templates, Style Guides
  • 52. Ask: “who is tending to the other levels?” Ecosystem = Controlled Vocabulary, Org Chart System = System Diagram Structure = Site Map Journey = Journey Maps Location = Flow Diagrams Context = Scenarios User = Personas Interface = Wireframes Interaction = Specifications Object = Visually Designed Screens
  • 53. If you forget everything else....
  • 54. 5 Lessons in Place-making 1. People prefer the easy road, watch for worn grass. 2. There are many ways to do anything and discovery involved in finding the right ways 3. Low-level decisions can have high-level consequences 4. Know your place, and the levels above and below 5. Affect what you can, respect what you can’t
  • 55. One more thing...
  • 56. How you do anything is how you do everything
  • 57. Make sure the places that you make aren't just full of passive aggressive signs
  • 58. Thanks (deck will be at: slideshare.com/abbycovert shortly) @Abby_The_IA | AbbytheIA.com