Last week I spent a couple days in Minneapolis taking in Adaptive Path’s UX Intensive. I would have really enjoyed taking the full four days but couldn’t b/c of work commitments. In any case two days was better than none and had the chance to take the Information Architecture and Interactive Design days. The obvious question to answer would be “how was it?”. The simple answer would be to say it was good… But how good and was it worth attending – and I would have to say I was able to connect a lot of dots that I had been thinking/doing but was looking for a bit more structured organization, and it really helped me provide a lot more confidence in how I approach design – so yes it was worth it.
The IA day was by Chiara Fox with help from Leah Buley. The day was divided into four sessions; Metadata & Controlled Vocabularies, Content Analysis, Content Modeling, and Classification & Site Structure. Each of those sessions had an exercise – some were group activities while others were individual. The Interaction Design day was put on by Dan Saffer and Kim Lenox. Again the day was divided into a number of sessions; Introduction & Characteristics of Good Interaction Design, Making Models from Research, Ideation, Design Principles, Innovating Design Methods, Fixing Broken Products and Prototyping. The activities themselves were there own sessions as opposed to the IA were it seemed like it was more of a reinforcement of the concepts on a high level. The ID exercises were Making a Conceptual Model, Brainstorming, Design Principles, Innovating a Design Method and Device Prototyping.
Each day included a workbook that contained all the slides and exercises. The context for all the exercises was for a fictitious hotel in California. All the presenters were quite clear and smart which at times made the learning slightly deceiving. They would share a point that was to be emulated in an exercise, and when I thought I had taken everything in found it challenging to complete. They made things look a lot easier than it was – that was something that I overheard a bit from others. In a lot of ways that’s a good thing – they knew their stuff and we had to learn.
The biggest takeaway wasn’t any particular session or thought, but wanting to take what I had learned and implement it as part of my daily design process. It’s taken almost a week of going through my notes and reviewing the slides. That of course only goes so far without hands on action. I’m pretty excited to see how I can do that in the next couple of months. I’ve put up some photos of my experience on flickr, you can get more info about the Information Architecture workshop at http://tinyurl.com/4hjfpc and the Interaction Design workshop at http://tinyurl.com/4xzqby. Conferences have their place, but for me at this point in my career the hands on workshops are a lot more valuable to me. If you have the time and resources I would highly recommend trying to get in to any of there workshops, it’s a great opportunity to enhance what you already know.