Process & deliverables (a Euro IA theme)

So soon­er or lat­er, any design­er work­ing in the pro­fes­sion­al are­na doing client work will start think­ing about process. What are the actu­al steps you go through to get to a suc­cess­ful out­come? Are those steps always the same? (Most design gurus would like you to think as much.) Is there one true IA process? Some attempts were made dur­ing the sum­mit to answer these ques­tions, most notably dur­ing the process pan­el lead by my col­league Peter Boers­ma. This got a bit stuck in dis­cus­sions on how the pan­el­lists’ com­pa­nies devel­oped and man­aged their process and not so much into the prac­ti­cal­i­ties of their respec­tive process­es. A shame.

The sec­ond day of the sum­mit was kicked off with a wire­frames pan­el. Wire­frames are maybe the most pro­duced deliv­er­able by many an IA. Deliv­er­ables are a nat­ur­al fit to process, which usu­al­ly con­sists of a descrip­tion of activ­i­ties, roles and artefacts. 

Both RUP and Agile were fre­quent­ly-used terms with a mem­o­rable obser­va­tion by one of the peo­ple present that dur­ing their life­time com­pa­nies seam to fluc­tu­ate between big scary process­es and loose small work­flows. It’s clear that any design shop adopt­ing RUP will need to slim it down and add a much-need­ed user cen­tred design com­po­nent. Agile sounds cool and excit­ing but real­ly only is fit for a cer­tain type of client (a fear­less one).

On the deliv­er­ables side, it struck me again how poor­ly we as design­ers are equipped to mod­el our intend­ed archi­tec­tures in such a way that clients get it and devel­op­ers can pick it up and build it. Who will fill this void?

This is the third post on themes spot­ted dur­ing the Euro IA Sum­mit 2006. The first post was on strat­e­gy, the sec­ond on social search. Oth­er posts will be on involv­ing the client and acces­si­bil­i­ty. My first post-sum­mit post can be found here.

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Kars Alfrink

Kars is a designer, researcher and educator focused on emerging technologies, social progress and the built environment.

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