Chicago and VSA welcome World Information Architecture Day

World Information Architecture Day began in 2012 to celebrate the anniversary of the 1998 publication of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web—also known as “The Polar Bear Book,” and the bible for UX professionals. Now in its third year, World IA Day grew to 24 cities around the world, including Warsaw, Tehran, Johannesburg and Buenos Aires. VSA Partners was proud to sponsor World IA Day’s first event in Chicago on February 15.

Kamaria Campbell, Information Architect at IBM Interactive Experience, served as the Chicago event’s coordinator. “World IA Day Chicago brought local professionals together to learn through high-quality speakers, panels, and interactive sessions that examined the many ways IA principles can be used to solve problems in business, civic, and personal contexts,” she reported. The event sold out with 150 information architects, developers, designers, strategists, researchers, instructors and students from businesses and schools across Chicago.

The day began with keynote presentations from Stephen P. Anderson, author and creator of the Mental Notes card deck, a popular tool for product design teams; Ingrid Haftel, Curator of Exhibitions and Visitor Engagement at the Chicago Architecture Foundation; and Dave Rook and Jeff Berg from IBM User Experience. Under the conference’s theme of “using IA to make the world a better place,” Anderson discussed mapping’s role in interactions and technology’s role in changing information environments; Haftel gave a sneak peek at CAF’s upcoming exhibit, “Chicago: City of Big Data;” and Rook and Berg went in-depth on IBM’s City Forward, a fascinatingly open, web-based platform that allows users to interact with data on cities around the world.

In the afternoon, VSA led a series of “Design Jam” sessions—opportunities for small groups to discuss common IA problems around Chicago and ideate rapid-fire solutions. In all three sessions, an overwhelming majority chose the Ventra payment system as the most significant IA problem—over electronic health records, the city’s informal “parking dibs” arrangement on residential streets, the voting process and others—and set about identifying real-world ways to make it easier and more efficient for mass use. (Take your pick, Ventra: World IA Day attendees recommended RFID chip implementation for in-pocket functionality, multiple touchpoints for sensors, improved feedback, updated turnstile designs, user-defined alert preferences and a holistic communication strategy.)

VSA’s UX Architecture team was represented by Associate Director David Roth and Senior User Experience Architects Andrew Day, Travis Smith and Emily Stringer, all of whom facilitated the Design Jams. “It was really great to be a part of the first Chicago World IA Day,” said Roth, who also spoke as part of the “IA Thinking: Industry Perspectives” panel. “It’s important to all of us on this team that we expand the public’s perception of VSA to include the UX architecture and design expertise and leadership that we’ve had for over a decade.”

View Anderson’s keynote on Slideshare or purchase his book Seductive Interaction Design, visit the “Chicago: City of Big Data” exhibition website and explore the City Forward site. Follow World IA Day on Twitter and learn more about its parent organization, the Information Architecture Institute, including upcoming conferences. Stay tuned in early 2015 for World IA Day locations, speakers and cities—and to learn how VSA will be involved.