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Ux Local Groups



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  • photo: Taro Taylor http://flickr.com/photos/tjt195/


  • 1. Local Groups How-To (and Why) Stacy Merrill Surla [email_address] RUX (Richmond UX Group) April 30, 2008
  • 2. Why are local groups important?
  • 3. Hard to do it alone
      • The profession is growing, but...
      • A large proportion of UX professionals still work in relative isolation
      • Many projects rely on contractors – UXs who have to work on their own
      • Even companies with UX teams can lack managers who understand and care about user experience
  • 4.
    • “ Communities of Practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.”
    • Etienne Wenger, Cultivating Communities of Practice
    Creates a Community of Practice
  • 5.
      • Local groups give UXs regular social and intellectual contact with peers
      • Validation and connectedness
      • Crucibles for new ideas
      • Volunteer projects help people network and get established in the profession or in new locations
    Creates a Community of Practice
  • 6.
    • Local groups are more than just a nice thing to have. They're the key to the future. Building IA as a profession requires building IAs as professionals.
    Builds the Field
  • 7.
    • “ Whether we like it or not, we are all in the business of influencing people's thoughts and behaviors; we are agents of change.
    • “ The stakes are higher now than ever before. How can one design for impact with awareness, efficiency, and responsibility?”
    • BJ Fogg, Persuasive Technology
    Improves the World
  • 8. Challenges
  • 9.
    • "Why were people so excited about doing things when we talked in person, but when I followed up later via email, nothing happened?”
    • Javier Velasco, Santiago, Chile
    Big-Picture Challenges
  • 10.
    • “ When the dot com crash happened, the IA role disappeared. People hunkered down into roles that could be justified, like visual design and programming.”
    • Jason Hobbs, Johannesburg, South Africa
    Big-Picture Challenges
  • 11.
    • “ There are lots of professional groups, but no social groups. There's no place to go to talk about issues at work. We need a place to have human contact and talk about professional IA.”
    • Mary MacDonald, Boston, MA
    Big-Picture Challenges
  • 12.
    • “ In Germany we have five or six big cities where IAs could work, but these cities are far apart. The Netherlands has one main city. They have a local group and are meeting regularly. I'm very jealous of places like Amsterdam where people can get together and drink beer and talk about IA.”
    • Wolf Nöding, Nürnberg, Germany
    Big-Picture Challenges
  • 13.
    • Where do we start?
    • How do we gather interest?
    • Are we overdoing? Underdoing?
    • How do we keep up momentum?
    • IAI Local Groups Coordinator Survey
    On the Ground Challenges
  • 14. How Do You Do It?
  • 15.
    • “ A little perspiration, a lot of love, and a few glasses of wine”
    • Andrew Boyd, Canberra, Australia
  • 16.
    • Successful local groups work in three domains:
    • Volunteer leadership, project management, and party planning
  • 17.
    • Think “Spa” when organizing your group and when planning activities.
    • Everything should be refreshing, fun, meaningful, and good for you.
    • Keep things as simple as possible, but no simpler
    • Declare victory and celebrate often
    Party Planning
  • 18.
    • Involve everybody who wants in
    • Give it away
    Volunteer Leadership
  • 19.
    • Makes some simple plans
    • Up the ante when you get good at it
    • Replicate your successes
    • Work with related associations
    Project Management
  • 20. Tips
    • From the “ Create a Network ” checklist on iainstitute.org
  • 21.
    • Speak up on listservs about your group
    • Find people and and invite them (eg IAI Member Directory, LinkedIn, Facebook...)
    • Attend events of related associations and cross-promote the group
    • Have an action item for people to respond to, like a low-key face-to-face meetup
    Reach out to like-minded individuals
  • 22.
    • Decide what "success" means to you.
    • An event with 3 people or 20? One good conversation? Enthusiasm and the next event scheduled?
    Organize an event
  • 23.
    • Face to Face Meetups
      • Little or no agenda (dinner, cocktail/coffee hour)
      • Easy agenda (book group)
      • Planning meetings (future events, activities, infrastructure)
      • Meet during a conference (breakfast, cocktails, dinner)
    Organize an event
  • 24.
    • More Ambitious Events
      • Event redux
      • Deliverables fair
      • Guest speakers (invite IA presenters, writers, workshop leaders when they’re in town)
    Organize an event
  • 25.
    • Virtual Meetings
      • Teleconference (e.g. via Skype)
      • Local or regional listserv
      • Online virtual environment (e.g. Second Life)
    Organize an event
  • 26.
    • Enough room
    • Right ambiance for the activity
    • Centrally located; good parking or public transport
      • Coffee shops
      • Restaurants
      • Bookstores
      • Public libraries / Community centers
      • Colleges / Universities with related programs
      • Your company
      • Your home
    Find good locations and reuse them
  • 27.
    • Setting up the local group itself is a project
    • Organizing each event is a project
    • Offer a site redesign plan to a local nonprofit
    • Envision a service you'd like to see through an affinity association, and offer to bring it into being
    Organize a project
  • 28.
    • Start a discussion list
      • Consider: Announcements only, or discussion?
    • Start a website
      • Consider: How will it be maintained? How about a blog?
    Stay in communication
  • 29.
    • Keep things as simple as possible
    • Repeat whatever works best
    • Quality matters more than numbers
    • Declare victory and celebrate often
    Keep a good attitude
  • 30.
    • Read a book about organizing volunteers
    • Read a book about event planning
    • Make a project plan, a timeline, a network diagram, or other management prop
    • Involve everybody who wants to participate
    Grow as a leader
  • 31.
    • “ We’ll support flamenco dancing if an IA wants to organize it”
      • Dan Brown, DCIA
    Grow as a leader
  • 32. What’s Next
  • 33.
    • What’s happened so far?
    • What’s your next event?
    • Which challenges or tips are relevant now?
    Next Steps for RUX
  • 34.
    • Beyond checklists, local leaders need infrastructure, recognition, and the weight of established organizations behind them
    Support for the Community of Practice
  • 35.
    • “ The average IA is not a rock star in persona. She's thoughtful, slightly quiet, considerate – an unlikely candidate for evangelist in many respects.
    • “ Feeling there's a community behind you is a big support – even if it's invisible, even if it's present only in the imagination."
    • Jason Hobbs
    Support for the Community of Practice
  • 36.
    • Thank you, Ironworks, for supporting RUX
    Support for the Community of Practice
  • 37.
    • Etienne Wenger http://www.ewenger.com
    • BJ Fogg http://www.bjfogg.com/
    • Andrew Boyd, Running a Successful IA Cocktail Hour Program http://iacanberra.org/2008/04/03/running-a-successful-ia-cocktail-hour-program/
    • Stacy Merrill Surla, Building IA Means Building Local Groups http://www.asis.org/Bulletin/Dec-06/surla.html
    • Create Network Checklist http://iainstitute.org/documents/localgroups/LG_Check_CreateNetwork.doc
    • Organize Conference Redux Tipsheet http://iainstitute.org/documents/localgroups/LG_Tip_Redux.doc
    • Leading Successful Volunteer Projects
    • http://www.slideshare.net/stacysurla/leading-successful-volunteer-projects/
  • 38.
    • IA Institute http://iainstitute.org/en/network/
    • Local Groups Coordinator Survey, 2007 http://iainstitute.org/en/learn/research/local_groups_coordinator_survey_2007.php
    • IxDA http://www.ixda.org/
    • UXNet http://www.uxnet.org/
    • UPA http://www.upassoc.org/chapters/
  • 39.
    • Stacy Merrill Surla
    • [email_address]