Thursday, June 05, 2003

Adaptive Path in San Francisco

I just got back from a three-day trip to San Francisco for an Adaptive Path workshop called The Business of User Experience. Don and I went to the preceding version of the workshop last fall, and this one was also excellent. Adaptive Path is a consulting firm with several incredibly smart, articulate information architects, interaction designers, and user-experience experts. Inspirational to hear about their successes and experiments, especially considering the economic situation they're working in -- the Silicon Valley has been hardest hit by the tech slump.

The fun stuff: couple 'a cold ones at a very cool gallery/bar called 111minna on Tuesday night with the workshop gang, riding the train down to Palo Alto with Don for supper with Gwen, touring around Stanford and Palo Alto, walking around downtown at night...

The work stuff...we got lots of practical ideas out of the workshop. One whole session on the politics of site development, and how to help everyone get things done. There were some generalizations about belligerent techies, clueless executives and evil marketing folks, but much of the advice was solid. It's nice to realize that the problems we deal with in our organization are far from unique.

We also spent a fair bit of time on Tuesday talking about Jesse James Garrett's "Nine Pillars", which cover the roles and processes of successful design efforts -- simple and smart. The session on content management systems was most valuable to me for the discussion of metadata. We've paid lip service to the concept, but we've never done very well in managing our metadata. It gave us some ideas for making our next CMS iteration work better for everyone. The final session covered the return on investment for user-centered design -- basically ways to justify the importance of the work we do. A real eye-opener. Design is seen entirely as a cost center...

No comments: