People first. Information first.
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World IA Day 2016 Pittsburgh

 

The What

A global day to celebrate information architecture — and we brought it for the first time to Pittsburgh, guided by a set of user-centered vision and values.

Highlight

“The selection of talks were perfectly curated, ranging from big picture to processes and tools. This was a well-organized event.”
~ Attendee’s response to our post-event survey, which sought to confirm whether we lived up to our values of being “Inspirational” and “Actionable”

Contributions

Product management, Public speaking and presentation, Strategy, Workshop facilitation

 
 
 

The Why

Why this? Why here? Why does a story about a community event belong in a designer’s portfolio? During the past four years, I’ve been on the organizing teams of UX and tech community events locally, regionally, and nationally. And what I’ve learned first-hand is that the success of these events hinges on the very same principles that make for a successful user-centered product. These events are, after all, user-centered products. 

(Besides, I’m consciously sparing you the sameness of reading about yet another app or website.)

In 2014 and 2015, I’d packed up my bags from Pittsburgh and traveled to Ann Arbor, Mich., and New York City for World Information Architecture Day. I had no choice if I wanted to attend — there was no World IA Day Pittsburgh. My experiences in these other cities got me thinking: “Why not here?”

 
 
 

The How

I set about hand-picking a team. Drawing on lessons learned from Midwest UX and Startup Weekend, I wanted a core group of people who could complement and support each other. Carol Smith brought with her a wealth of veteran experience from UXPA and from years of engaging in her communities. Becky Torbochkin added to the team her visual design skills and an unflinching yet sunny work ethic for nailing down details. And Raelin Musuraca gave us a reliable coordinator and communicator when we needed help with those things the most.

 
 

Synthesis of the defining vision and values of World IA Day 2016 Pittsburgh.

 
 

The single most important thing to me was the shared vision. As the lead founder, I certainly had my opinions about things, and at the same time I didn’t want this to be “The Jeremy Show.” I facilitated the generation, discussion, and synthesis of what would become our defining vision and values. As we divided and conquered, inching ever closer to event day, we frequently referred back to our user-centered vision and values to guide decisions about speakers, topics, venues, budget, and even catering.

Having a clear north star also made it easier to onboard new volunteers, and I’d like to think it’s no small part of why World IA Day Pittsburgh has flourished as a sustainable community event. World IA Day Pittsburgh 2016, 2017, and 2018 all sold out within hours of tickets being made available. And now a 2019 edition is in the works, having been deliberately and thoughtfully transitioned to a new team of organizers.

 
 
 Badges and stickers, ready to go the morning of Pittsburgh's first World IA Day.

Badges and stickers, ready to go the morning of Pittsburgh's first World IA Day.

 Delivering opening remarks as host.

Delivering opening remarks as host.

 
 

My original smash hit remains World IA Day 2016, with its 11 presenters, six talks, one panel, and 90 attendees. Ninety-seven percent of our post-event survey respondents said they either agreed or strongly agreed that World IA Day Pittsburgh inspired them, offered them actionable lessons, and impressed them as a friendly and connective event. This was exactly our vision, brought to life.

To quote a few attendees: 

“The selection of talks were perfectly curated, ranging from big picture to processes and tools. This was a well-organized event.” 
“It was an awesome and extremely professional event. Better executed than many paid conferences!”
“Can't wait for next year!”