Looking back: WIAD 2014 in Zagreb

We’ve celebrated World Information Architecture Day on February 15th for the first time in Zagreb, Croatia. And here are our impressions...

Our guests and atmosphere

We had around 60 open spots for free entry to WIAD and all of them were gone in less than three hours. We wanted to go with a very cosy, small and intimate environment. Our venue, Müller hall at Kino Europa, provided just such a perfect setting. Colourful and very cosy chairs with tables alongside, apples, bananas and an assortment of fine cheeses were just some of the touches we wanted to provide for our dear guests.

All attendees received gift bags with really nice badges (check out #WIADhr to see people tweeting about badges and other cool gifts) and homemade rakija (Don’t know what rakija is? We’ll Google it for you!) from different fruits. Probably one of the best comments we heard was: “This doesn’t look like any conference I’ve ever been to. It’s more like I’m in my friend’s living room talking about things we love and just having a good time”.

We’ve been to many different events and conferences and we are aware of the important role that the setting plays in the overall experience – that’s why we decided to go for something non-pretentious, cosy and just plain simple and friendly. It seems we got it right :)

Speakers and key take aways

Any event is nothing without great speakers; people who are happy and passionate about what they are doing and are keen on sharing it with others. First up were the Blagonic Brothers” – Lucijan and Emanuel who talked about information architecture and its implications for everyday web design tasks. One of the key thoughts that seemed to strike a chord with the audience was that whatever we do in our design work we should be professional, educate our clients and always learn and innovate.

Tin Kadoic was our next speaker and his session “Foraging for creativity” resonated perfectly with the audience. While not being “IA specific”, the session was highly relevant and appreciated. Tin took us on a journey from the dawn of humanity all the way through the renaissance, where humanity became the centre of creativity, all the way to the present day, where we explored the world’s best chefs and their urge for culinary expression and creativity. Unusual, unexpected, but highly needed, it inspired us to forage for creativity on a daily basis.

Vibor Cipan @ WIAD 2014, Zagreb (Croatia
Vibor Cipan @ WIAD 2014, Zagreb (Croatia

Googler-to-be, Merlin Rebrovic helped us navigate the mobile world. By starting with the premise that we are getting more and more information served on our palm-sized (or even smaller) screens, it is clear that navigational patterns to cater for this volume of information are emerging. To illustrate some of them and to show how IA can really improve the product, Merlin took Skype for Android and showed us his vision of the product IA and his suggestions for improvement. The single most important thought from Merlin’s presentation? If you need to deviate from guidelines, do so with a purpose, not just for the sake of being “innovative”.

Our guest from Switzerland, Konstantin Weiss shared his story. Born in Omsk, present-day Russia, he explained to his parents at a young age that he just didn’t want to be a cosmonaut (no, not an astronaut either) – he wanted to be the guy in charge of building and creating things. And that passion has brought him to Information Architects, where he is currently working, and has inspired him and his team to come up with the so-called “container model”. With Konstantin we learned that we can focus on user tasks and, if properly done, content can be re-compiled and distributed as needed. Also, responsibility between content creation and content composition can be divided. Unique model, unique and unusual perspective; exactly what we love to see and hear!

After the beer break the stage was set for Goran Peuc’s session on why no one wants to use your product. We have missed Goran since he’s now calling Ireland his home, so it was nice to have him in Zagreb again. In an easy-going atmosphere, with beers in our hands, we watched and listened as Goran gave us a reality check on why people just don’t care about our products. No one wants to use a washing machine; we just want clean clothes. Wrapped up nicely in a single sentence; people want results, not our products or interfaces.

The last part of WIAD was our joint panel discussion where all our speakers and myself as moderator talked about the different career paths to UX design and information architecture, what makes us get up in the morning and create, do we get to learn more working at large corporations or at agencies and, with this in mind, what are the different perspectives. It was a very rewarding experience to learn from so many different people and their backgrounds, to challenge ideas and to mutually learn and share!

Sponsors and friends, thank you!

We need to thank all our friends and sponsors who helped us to organize this event. From global partners like Axure, Rosenfeld Media, UserTesting.com, UX Pin, The Understanding Group, Goldman Sachs to our local friends and supporters like the great guys and girls from Startup Vitamins, A Book Apart, UI Stencils, UX Pin (again, yes!) and kupimajicu.net.

And lastly us, the people from UX Passion / Wall of Tweets… We hope you had a great event and enjoyed it at least as much as we did. It was our pleasure to be your hosts. We want to thank all of you for helping us to make our first Zagreb WIAD such a nice story!

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