1. Pay attention: Information Architecture, user experience and content strategy will become popular in seemingly unrelated disciplines. The online behavior world has changed beyond our current horizons. Tools that users deploy to find our experiences have become “smarter” through machine learning algorithms that use heuristics designed by computer engineers. Scared yet? You should be. All is not lost though. This appropriately named artificial intelligence is limited while our ability to creatively reverse engineer is not. Pay attention to the SEO and data science communities read as much as you can until your brain hurts. Like marathon training, eventually you’ll find yourself understanding more and your brain hurting less. I’ve given you a “starter kit” below.
2. Be Astonished: 2017 will be a year of cross-channel collaboration like we’ve never known before. Have you noticed that we’re always talking about the same things? Service design. Storytelling, personas, taxonomy. We focus on our standard core areas at the exclusion of the world that surrounds them. I see 2017 as the emergence of true cross-channel collaboration and not just within our UX/IA/CS mini-greek systems. Last year, Giles Colborne spoke at the IA Summit on algorithms. I have been a constant irritant about user experience and information architecture at SEO, Marketing and business conferences. Others within our ranks have peaked over the walls of Castle Black and found an illuminating landscape that is hungry for what we have. We should do the same. Break out of your routine. Find webinars and meetups outside of your discipline and support them.
3. Tell (and do something) About It: 2017 becomes a year where we broaden the audience and participants in conversations focused on what constitutes intelligence and experience. Have you looked around at our conferences? Pretty monochromatic when it comes to diversity. We talk a lot about it. The conferences all have impactful statements about their commitment to it. Yet, I look around the room and see lots of white, upper middle class individuals. On stage and behind the podium, we find the usual suspects. 2017 will be the year that our communities take diversity head on; starting with the 18th IA Summit, March 22-26, Vancouver, Canada. Co-chair Dave Cooksey has done a brilliant job of bringing action to the words with submission mentoring along with planned on-site activities.Let us build on his good work. Reach back as well as forward. Find a way to encourage individuals of diverse race, gender-identification, belief-systems, all types, abilities and interests. to consider a career in computer human interaction, information architecture, user experience and content strategy. Volunteer to be part of career days at local high schools. Make diversity a focus for your work (accessibility anyone?). Shows like “Halt and Catch Fire” made nerdy computer engineers interesting and sexy. Let’s do the same for our fields.
Marianne Sweeny is the co-chair of IA Summit 2017, an information architect, a SEO renegade, and a user experience advocate that believes cross-discipline is where we beat the bots. She is also a lecturer and a speaker based in Seattle. Be sure to say hello to her at the IA Summit 2017 in Vancouver from March 22 to 26.