‘Features aren’t experiences’ at UX Joburg

I had a great time last Saturday speaking at UX Joburg in Braamfontein. The presentation was on the topic of ‘Features aren’t experiences’. Thanks to the folks from ThoughtWorks for hosting.  The presentation is now up on slideshare.

(photos by Tasmin Donaldson)

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02. February 2015 by admin
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D3: the design behind the design behind the design

Last year at the IA Summit in San Diego I gave my D3 presentation. It was pretty dense and without good notes (on slideshare) hard to follow. I’ve been working on a visual essay version of it and it’s finally complete. View the presentation here.


14. January 2015 by admin
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EuroIA, Brussels

Well I’ve just returned from Brussels having presented my plenary on ‘Designing for the liminal’. What a great conference and what great people. I’m one of the co-chairs for the Summit next year to be held in Madrid. Wish me luck! Loads of work ahead…


This photo by David Peter Simon


01. October 2014 by admin
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Navigating indeterminacy

Terence and I presented this paper at DDR 2013 in Ghana and I presented it again more recently at World Usability Day, Bristol. You can read the full paper in the conference proceedings.


01. December 2013 by admin
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Annual of IA: 2012 / 2013

Around the end of Q1 next year the first edition of the Annual of Information Architecture will be released. Andrea and I are behind this and we plan for it to be amazing.

Take a look at the site and submit works you believe should be included. If you feel like helping us bring it to life we’re accepting all the help we can get.

Tell your friends…

30. July 2013 by admin
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Accepted for GIDEC 2013

The two papers Terence Fenn and I submitted for GIDEC 2013 in Botswana have been accepted! Unfortunately I wont be able to attend as I’ll be conducting a workshop on cross-channel UX at EuroIA in Edinburgh with Andrea Resmini… So good luck to Terence for the presentations.

The papers for GIDEC are titled:  “Preparing undergraduate design students for complexity: a case study of the Johannesburg Art Gallery project” and “Applying User Journey Design to resolve complex design problems”

Hopefully Terence will see you there…

25. July 2013 by admin
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Rad. I’m on wikipedia…

…as an ‘important person’ on the Information Architecture page

I’ve been telling people for ages!

07. May 2013 by admin
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IA Summit 2013 Academic Round Table

Our presentation from the workshop can be found on slideshare. It’s a short ignite-style thing and thus quick and easy to digest.

It was actually an amazing exercise to reduce a 25 page paper into a 5 minute presentation with only 20 slides. As soon as the paper is published I’ll post a link from here.

It really was the most brilliant day. Well done to all.

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18. April 2013 by admin
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Current state of IA and UX in South Africa

Earlier this week 10and5.com published an interview with me. They edited my (very long) response to the last question so I thought to post the full version here.

What is the current state of IA and UX design practice in South Africa?

It’s strange, I was working as an information architect in Cape Town in 1997. I went overseas, the dot com bubble burst and when I returned in 2004 the role had disappeared from the face of SA. Over the past 8 years there’s been a slow resurgence mainly aided by Steve Jobs providing a tangible argument for the role of design in business.

The local design industry (and I’m generalising here) still views UX and digital work in particular, as a somewhat techie and analytical thing – which it’s not. Last I checked, graphic, print, industrial and architectural design still held the lion’s share of presence at the Design Indaba (it may have been different this year, I didn’t attend) which is kind of crazy when you consider that the world has been in the grip of an information and technology revolution for the past 15 years.

There remain only a handful of senior UX people and true UX agencies in South Africa and we need more. A lot of people are coming back, having gained experienced abroad, and hopefully more will come back.

The fields of IA and UX locally are desperate for skilled new entrants and some of the schools and universities are responding (in particular the University of Johannesburg’s Fine art, design and Architecture faculty) but more need to come on board.

Client’s are getting smart on the topic and are often ahead of agencies claiming to do UX (where many of the agencies are just offering sitemaps and wireframes). To help clients, we need standards and better industry organisation – a professional body of some kind would help.

IA and UX are heavily bound up in innovation driven by user-centered methods (true customer experience design). The commitment to this path by clients is often more than they realise.  Designing a corporate website, for instance, using user-centered methods, usually has far reaching implications that influence organisational culture, processes, marketing, other channels… so it’s important for both service providers and clients not to pay lip-service to design and innovation.

That said, it’s a very positive sign that corporates are starting to embed UX into their organisations. Two standout examples are Discovery and Standard Bank.

And lastly, we seem to have only just woken up to the importance of UX design and the next train is already leaving the station; that being Cross-Channel IA, Service Design, Design Thinking, etc. We need to catch-up. There are many common threads between these fields (in the main user-centered research methods and design synthesis techniques) so we need to stop focusing on deliverables and start understanding (and selling) process and principles. This will make the fields more interoperable and push design in the area forward more quickly.

Overseas, these fields are having a huge impact in social spaces (both in the developed and developing world). We have a desperate need for more designers to place value in having an impact on our society and a move away from design for sales, marketing, big brands and awards.

15. March 2013 by admin
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Hotel Yeoville book published

After quite some time Terry Kurgan has published her book documenting the Hotel Yeoville project. I have a chapter in it and am thus most chuffed.

It’s a truly thoughtful and beautiful record of a highly ambitious artistic, social and cultural intervention into one of the most complex spaces in Johannesburg. It’s really wonderful stuff.



Oh and here are some shots of myself, my niece (Ruby) and sister in-law from the photo booth at the exhibition installation.


13. March 2013 by admin
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