Tuesday, 28 November 2006

Essential for planners, useful for IAs

I've just started reading Truth, Lies and Advertising which is the most consistently name checked and recommended book I've so far seen on planning. And after 20 pages on the bus home I'm already intrigued by what's coming.

It sounds like it will have some real relevance to IA - and i've been stuck a few times at how similar the roles sound. Take this as an example:
The planner's role was basically to embrace consumers as partners in the process of developing advertising, to use their input at every stage of the process to inform and sometimes even inspire creative campaigns.
Does that not sound familiar? Swap 'advertising' for 'digital communications', 'online interactions' or just plain old 'websites' and suddenly you've got a UCD practitioner, or Information Architect.

I think this could all be huge amounts of fun. More after tomorrow's bus ride.

I challenge you not to smile

Loved these when i saw them. Some even have pigtails.

Where's the fun? That's what innocent seem to be constantly asking.

I like it.

Although i didn't buy it, they're still a rip off...

Saturday, 25 November 2006

Information Architecture & Planning 2

What agencies currently have both IAs and Planners?

And how do they work together currently?

What used to be Wheel (now LBi) definitely does/did, but friends from the framfab side of things who work there hadn't really heard of the role.

(If this blog is about anything, it's about trying to help me figure out what are the most fun bits of the two jobs, and whether i can just do those bits.
I've got a big amazon order coming soon full of books about planning)

Where's the fun? It's in finding people who've already been down the road i'm starting to plod.

Information Architecture & Planning

My company recently went through a merger with another company. Very different companies with very different, but supposedly complimentary skills (large design & build vs marketing & flash based)

As part of getting to know each other i presented some of my work to the creative director who kept remarking "that's planning, he's a planner".

I personally had never heard of 'planning' or the role of a 'planner', but as time has passed I now completely understand the cross over.

Soon after I went to the EuroIA conference where Jared Folkman spoke of 'Big IA' being comparable to the role of a planner, and that we would have to start using this sort of terminology as competition/dealings with above the line agencies increases.

Having now learnt a lot more about 'planning' it does seem like there's a lot of cross over (understanding the consumer, being the consumer guardian, coming up with strategic direction, performing and analysing user research, etc)

the thing is that they've been doing it for 30 years or so, and have a far more formalised structure to the role, which is worth taking advantage of (see the courses here plenty of these are relevant)

the MORE exciting thing is that the planning community seems to be a wonderfully interesting one. I've recently discovered and been devouring russell davies' blog. If you haven't visited it, you should. Inspiring, funny, and educational. Also seems like a ridiculously nice guy.

If this blog is about anything, i think it will be about this cross over.

Where's the fun? It's in finding a whole new area of untapped knowledge i'd never heard of that sounds brilliant fun

IA School (of the web)

Russell Davies has set up his 'Account Planning School of the Web' blog posts here and squidoo lens here.

He sets challenges.
People respond.
Either he, or a well respected mate, ends up marking it.

Wonderful idea, not sure how much longer he'll be able to do it before becoming overloaded, but really helpful, great idea. The more you give, the more you get.

I'm wondering if something similar for IA might be possible?

I'd love to try something like this.

Possible assignments:
On the tactical side:
- With the following information about a company, and nothing else available, create a persona or set of personas that are most appropriate.
- Create a 10 minute executive presentation of the following user testing report.
On the more strategic side
- Sum up the audience, business, and purpose of the website for xxx organisation for an executive.
- Set out a 2 year plan for the development of an xxxxx business online.

Could it work?
I think maybe. I'd need help marking them, just for the fun and also where i have little knowledge.

where's the fun? in learning more by teaching/writing than by reading

Euro IA

I was at the Euro IA conference in Berlin recently - or not so recently, back at the beginning of october.

Finally having a catch up in london about it, which i'm looking forward to. I've always been crap at going to 'industry' meet ups, but after EuroIA where the best thing by far was meeting all these lovely people doing similar things to me I've realised how fun it is.

It was wonderfully liberating to spend time talking about esoteric topics without worrying about sounding like a freak. I love my job, more often than not, but it's still a stupid title.

Leisa Reichart has a good summary of the conference here. There's a bunch of others around the place. I should collate them at some point

My 2 second summary of the conference:

Low point - shambolic & rambling panel about 'process' *addendum to this in comments*

High points - meeting many many nice people, Jared Folkmann's talk on his experience framework, the framfab boys doing a great job with their wicked workshops presentation, olly wright provoking some thoughts with his talk on strategy (If you can't draw it, you don't understand it. Be careful with other people's money.). Steven Pemberton in his closing talk showed some very interesting possibilities with XHTML 2 and xforms. Must read more about xforms, i came away extremely impressed, but very aware that i didn't understand it fully.

Wierdest point - Almar van de Krogt talking about Virreal architectures. It seemed like he had a point there somewhere (how can websites be beautiful, memorable like a landmark?) but hasn't got a proper grip on the actual metaphor he's using.

Looking forward to discussing it at the london-ia meeting next week. Which i've organised (ie, sent an email) as the normal organiser is away.

Friday, 24 November 2006

The depravity theory of design

This is an idea that's been floating around my head for years now. Thought i'd see if it made sense.

It boils down to this:
1) Everyone is a mixture of normal/nice/kind and wierd/embarrassing
2) In the 'real' world to get by and not be considered a mad person you keep the wierd/depraved side of you in a little hidden box whilst interacting with people.
3) In the virtual world the anonymity of dealing with organisations and people means that there is less need to only show the nice/normal side and hide the wierd side. Often the wierd/embarrassing can dominate.
4) Brands are so used to putting the most positive side of themselves forward that they ignore this different behaviour that occurs online.

My question is this:
Can brands appeal to this different mindset without damaging their reputation

In more detail:
Point 1 - We're all a mix of niceness, generosity, kindness, intelligence, humour but also, dark/dirty thoughts, selfish desires and greediness.
I happen to believe that the first set of attributes are far stronger in most people, but Point 2 says that although the second set is weaker, in normal behaviour with people it is completely repressed. We try, as much as possible, to show and emphasise the nice side - to strengthen our own brand.

Point 3 says that the anonymity allowed by the internet means people can open up the more greedy, selfish, fantasist side of themselves without being judged for it.

So point 4 is saying that currently brands believe they're still talking to real people in a 'real world' way, rather than adapting to the more selfish, greedy behaviour that is so possible on the internet.

Ryan air is an example of this 'Depravity Theory':
This site is appealing to the greedy in all of us.
Joking apart about terrible service at the airport, ryan air is generally pretty efficient and reasonably polite.Yet they haven't transferred that experience online as often seems to be the aim. Here the tone of voice entirely changes.


I need some more examples (excluding the obvious porn). Or ideas of organisations that would suit this approach.

Or is it simply a stupid idea with no legs at all?