Workshop Report: Donna Spencer – User Experience Design and Information Architecture

Donna Spencer shares an inspired moment with us at her UX workshop.

Donna Spencer shares an inspired moment with us at her UX workshop.

This past February, user experience expert Donna Spencer came to New Zealand from Australia and gave several workshops for TCANZ in Auckland, Christchurch, and Wellington.  As a not-for-profit organisation, TCANZ provides several specialised workshops each year for technical communicators, and Spencer’s visit is an excellent example. This report is from both workshops in Wellington.

We began with Donna Spencer’s User Experience (UX) Design workshop. Spencer took us through usability principles, followed by a series of lively exercises where we explored software from the end user’s perspective, including persona development, scenarios to sketches, design principles, and sample software designs. We also discussed our UX challenges, especially how to get an organization to put resources into improving UX.

This video, which Spencer shared with us, is a great introduction to usability design.

The Information Architecture workshop had a diverse range of attendees – some were well established in this emerging field, and others were just getting started. This workshop had more theory, as well as further exercises – card sorting, large site management, research before you begin, and creating successful synthesis for the final result. We discussed the challenges of Intranets That Don’t Work and learning IA patterns.

We had excellent feedback about the workshops from our attendees, especially those who had also attended Webstock the week prior. “This is the hands-on information I needed,” one said. “I was glad to see that I’m on the right track with my usability practices,” said another. Everyone enjoyed Spencer’s lively, relaxed, confident presentation style. Talking amongst ourselves, we discussed the state of the contractors’ market in Wellington, and differences between Antipodean and U.S. software development environments. And after the final workshop, a mix of attendees from both days and TCANZ members whisked Spencer down the street for a farewell drink.

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TCANZ appreciates Donna Spencer’s fantastic UX and IA workshops this February.

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