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World IA Day and tools

9 February 2013 was World IA Day – a global event in 15 cities where folks got together to discuss various aspects of “information architecture” (IA). I attended the Canberra event, run by one of my best friends, Donna Spencer. It was a lovely intimate group, covering interesting topics such as a great presentation about project management and IA personas (The Professor, The Tool, The Dummy Spit, The Baby and The Professional), testing your IAs and more.

One of my favourite sections was covering the various tools that we all used. Here’s my raw notes from the ‘tools discussion’ so I can remember to come back and explore some of them.

Research tools

  • Super sticky post it notes on butchers paper or removable whiteboard paper
  • Chodoo (I’m not sure what this one is and can’t seem to find a link to it)
  • Audionote – an iPhone/iPad app that’s a notepad and voice recorder
  • Livescribe – my personal favourite – I use this all the time in my research!
  • Content Analysis Tool (CAT) – used for creating detailed content inventories. One of the event participants swears by this.
  • MyServiceFellow – a mobile ethnography application for smartphones (Apple and Android)
  • Big rolls of whiteboard paper that sticks to walls

Design tools

All tools note below have some sort of cost associated with the tool (unless otherwise noted):

  • Optimal Workshop – my favourite! It’s a suite of three very cool tools – OptimalSort (card sorting), Treejack (tree testing), Chalkmark (1st impression testing). We’ve been using it for a number of years.
  • Websort – online card sorting
  • Axure – I use this one all the time and their support team is pretty responsive
  • Microsoft Expression Design (free version) – apparently good for creating application user interfaces although someone noted that this may only be useful for those creating apps within the Microsoft development environments (dot net)
  • Keynotopia – turns your presentation tool (keynote/powerpoint) into a prototyping tool (because not everyone has access to other design tools!)
  • Pen/pencil and paper (free!)
  • iCardsort – (iPad only) – cardsorting/brainstorming tool
  • Blueprint – (iPad only) – mockup tool
  • Balsamiq – online wireframing/prototyping tool
  • UXPin – cloud based wireframing app that allows for collaboration and feedback
  • Visio
  • OmniGraffle (Macs)
  • Technique: Write content that’s not very good and get people to fix it (not asking them to start from scratch)

There was also a few more tools mentioned that I couldn’t find on the web (I might have misheard or couldn’t see the butchers paper where it was written down): Graphtopia, Iron mockup, Pop, GUI tools. If you know about these, please comment below.

Post it notes on a wall
Mapping the Canberra World IA day social network
Melinda Harrington presenting at the front of the room
Melinda Harrington talking about project management and different IA personas
Published inConferencesInformation ArchitectureUser experience


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