Meeting real people who use our tools was one of the biggest highlights at IA Summit 09. Here is a chat I had with Jason Holmes who had used Treejack quite extensively.
Sam: So Jason, tell us about you.
Jason: Sure, I’m a usability experience analyst at American Greetings and I work primarily on Webshots and Photoworks.com. My role within our group is that I do user research and usability studies. I also contribute to information architecture work and, in particular, building taxonomies.
Sam: Tell me about some of your favourite IA methods or tools.
Jason: Usability research is of course what I do, so I like Morae from Techsmith, but really I’m finding a lot more bang for the buck on things like card sorting. It doesn’t take as near as much time or setup but it's user generated feedback. I could do usability testing that will take me 40 hours or I can do a card sort that will take me 10. In the end, I get similar feedback to present.
Sam: That's an interesting perspective. What things frustrate you, or drive you a little bit crazy about your job?
Jason: Being new to the corporate culture, I'm not used to having little control over the things that I would like control over. I see things that I would like to do but am not part of the decision over whether these things see the light of day. I'm trying though to work to a position where I can influence those decisions.
Sam: You should tell us all when you figure out how to do that. What’s your feeling about the Optimal Workshop tools?
Jason: I just started using Treejack and I finished a study which I am hoping we will post. It is so fast and so easy to set up that is it's really crazy not to use it. It is what it is and limited somewhat in what it gives you while in beta, but what it gives you is great and it is fast.
Sam: Fantastic, good to hear you like it. What kind of prediction would you like to make about our industry?
Jason: User experience designers and IAs are the answer for holding on to the customers you have. Everyone else is floundering about with the economy the way it is, but if your IA foundation is strong, your user experience is great, you’re more likely to keep and retain customers. I really hope we will see our practice more integrated with the business. More of IA driving business (decisions) and more respect from the business.
Sam: What is your stereotype of an IA and have you seen many of those stereotypes at this conference?
Jason: I think yes. Coming into the hotel I could spot the IA’s immediately. It's the sloppy clothes, hip glasses, and shall we call, it receding hairlines.
Sam: So are you enjoying yourself so far?
Jason: Loving the IA conference. This is my third or fourth one and one of the best yet!
Sam: Thanks Jason. See you next year!