Advocating for IA in Product: A Case Study with Citrix ShareFile (IA Summit ’16 Poster)

Poster Night, a social event at IA Summit ’16, showcases 30+ posters about methods, trends, case studies and more in the UX/IA field. Palak (user researcher) and I (UX designer / information architect) presented a case study about advocating for IA within product. IA within product is often overlooked because it’s not something as tangible as a website’s site map. Over the past few months, we teamed up as a duo to lead the project team through the redesign of our product’s Web App. For our card sort, we used the Modified-Delphi approach, which we’ve tried a few times on different projects and it’s been helpful with informing us!

Advocating for IA in Product


Here’s a PDF of our poster. As a bonus, here are our top 10 tips for advocating for IA in product!

  1. Have a duo if possible – a researcher teamed up with an information architect or a UX designer with IA chops can lean on each other’s expertise to make some good progress.
  2. Be adaptable, understand you may have to pivot based on your organization’s size and resources.
  3. Stay focused on the structure and build a foundation to move forward.
  4. Hard work = rewards; it may not seem like it at first, but keep going! Once you see progress, you’ll feel better. At the end, you can look back to see how far things have come along!
  5. Build trust in the people you work with and your stakeholders
  6. Invite people along the way – have them observe so they can understand what’s going on. Lean on people to help define categories and label change recommendations
  7. Combine both qualitative & quantitative data – it can help you make informed navigation decisions
  8. Build a story and reflect back on your process and iterations.
  9. Share your work with others – it helps advocate for the practice.
  10. Have fun! This can be quite the effort, so don’t forget to have fun during the process. Play your favorite jams, order in lunch for everyone, and tell really bad jokes.

Tools and Methods We Used

Questions about the process or the approach? Want to share what you’re up to? Feel free to contact Michelle (@soysaucechin).

Trello for Modified-Delphi Card Sorts

Trello is an awesome app for organizing and collaborating.  However, it’s also a great tool in your UX kit for doing Modified-Delphi card sorts.

Modified-Delphi card sorting is a technique where the first participant does a full card sort of organizing and arranging items. The next participant iterates on the first participant’s sort, then the third participant iterates on the second’s, and so on. The idea is that with each iteration the sort gets more refined with fewer participants and consensus is built sooner. Learn more about the Modified-Delphi card sorting method (PDF slide deck).

Using Trello for this type of card sorting is beneficial because it’s an easy tool for participants to use – so they can focus more on the actual sort.  In addition, you can copy, save, and share each iteration digitally.

To set up Trello for a Modified-Delphi card sort, create a new organization. Then create your first board. In this case I’ve created “Participant #1.” (I’ll explain why I’ve labeled it this way later.)

In the “Participant 1” board, set up all the cards in a list called “Unfiled.”

Trello board set up for a Modified-Delphi card sort with a list called Unfiled and all the cards under that list

Have the participants create lists, label them, and move cards to the lists until they see fit.

An in-progress card sort by the first participant in Trello

When they’re done, copy the board by going to the sidebar, selecting Menu, then Copy board….  Name this copied board “Participant #2” – make sure you keep it in the same organization and check the box to keep the cards.  This creates a duplicate version of the first iteration that the second participant can then modify.  Repeat this as needed for your participants.

Creating a new board for card sorting by duplicating this one

Keep in mind, this isn’t a good tool for traditional card sorts because you can’t compile data easily.  This and Modified-Delphi card sorts are great if you have a limited budget, short on time, and only have a few resources.

Pro Tip: You can do this remotely by inviting people to your Trello board and Trello has an easy signup process.

Get started with Trello:

Cost: free

Let us know if you’ve tried it, how it’s worked out, or if you have other tips or know of other ways to do Modified-Delphi card sorts.

Favorite Ipsums

If you haven’t already come across it, lorem ipsum is placeholder text that UX designers use in wireframes and prototypes when real content is not available. It fills content areas so you can get an idea for how much text can fit in a space and how it may look.

There are appropriate times for using lorem ipsum and times when you want to be cautious. Use it when the audiences are you and your teammates. They will most likely understand that it’s placeholder text and can ignore that it’s not real content. Be cautious when showing clients or stakeholders wireframes or prototypes though. They are often too distracted by it to pay attention to what you’re actually trying to communicate to them. They may ask you what it means or if it will appear in their real site or product. You’ll waste time explaining what it is and why you’re using it, so it’s best if you avoid showing it all all. Placeholder content also has a tendency to set false expectations. For example, if you use a paragraph of placeholder content, when the final page will have a list of bullets, the client might be confused with what happened because what they saw before wasn’t the same. Use real content as much as possible so you can keep their focus on the concepts you’re trying to communicate and so real expectations can be set.

Now that you’ve been properly warned, use it with caution; and hey, why not have some fun with it? Here are some of our favorites:

There are lots of ipsum generators out there. What’s your favorite? Do you have any funny reactions from clients or stakeholders?

Fluid App

Fluid is a handy app that makes stand-alone, Mac desktop apps from web apps. It’s great because now you can have your favorite apps like Trello, GMail, Github, and Lucidchart as desktop apps rather than tabs that get buried in your browser.

The Trello icon showing in the dock as a stand-alone app

It’s free to make as many apps as you want or you can pay $4.99 for a license that provides a few more features (e.g., full-screen mode). I’ve been able to do everything I’ve needed using the free version.

To set up an app all you have to do is paste the URL of the app you want to make (e.g., into the Fluid app and it builds your app for you.

The Fluid app interface

Do you use Fluid already?  Let us know what you’ve turned into apps!

Pro tip: When you create an app, have your apps icon ready to add. It’s easier to add it now than changing it later. Icons can be found on their Flickr group or via a Google search.

Pro tip: After creating your apps, have them launch when you start the computer. (Directions on how to set that up.) I have my GMail and Trello apps start on launch.

Get the app:

Price: Free!, $4.99 for more features.