Annual Report 2010

To view the annual report with financial data, Download a copy of the 2010 Annual Report.

17 March 2011

2010 was a year of continued streamlining for the Institute, as we completed back office development work and began to focus on strategy that will allow us to better meet current and future growth. Our objective remains to do so without sacrificing the nimbleness and flexibility required to effectively serve the needs of a rapidly evolving profession.

Some of the year’s highlights:

  • Organization: 2010 was a year for changes as we hired a new Membership Coordinator, retained an association management firm to handle back-office details, secured liability insurance, documented treasury procedures and hired a new bank and a new accounting firm.
  • Membership: We ended the year with 1,449 members in 48 countries. Our member renewal rate was 51% versus 45% in 2009 and 44% in 2008. This is a loyalty measure based on the number of eligible members that chose to renew in a given year. The result indicates that members are more likely to renew than they have been in previous years.
  • Infrastructure: Member database transition is progressing. We have secured a lifetime license to aMember and have completed a series of tests. Implementation is expected by Spring 2010. A full-scale review and strategic plan for the IA Library and the website is underway in preparation for a migration to an integrated Drupal-based system.
  • Communications: Peter Morville helped us launch a new public initiative called Explain IA. The result was a contest open to the public in which IA Institute members judged entries ranging from diagrams, videos and prose.
  • Events: IDEA 2010 was held at the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia, PA, USA, and continues to exceed our expectations with regards to quality, attendance, and income. We also had a considerable presence at the IA Summit in Phoenix, and sponsored various other events around the world.
  • Partnerships: We expanded our list of event, education and product partners.
  • Initiatives: Our member initiatives continued to flourish. We’ve been working to handle the growth in some of our programs, particularly the mentoring program and events/webinars. One area of promise is in developing two-way relationships between research and practice through initiatives that connect professional speakers with student groups and academic research with business practices. Meanwhile, we continued making back-end improvements to our mentoring registration system and streamlining our resources and translations initiative processes, leveraging our new Volunteer Wiki and the IA Library.

We closed the year with a clearer understanding of the challenges and opportunities before us. Over the next year, we look forward to continue improving our infrastructure and partnership opportunities to better serve our members and the IA profession. We thank you for being a part of it all, and look forward to keep working with you to help our profession flourish.

Scope of this report
The 2010 Annual Report covers the period from January 1, 2010 until December 31, 2010.


After undertaking heroic efforts to disentangle and reorganize our treasury processes, Jonell Gades transitioned away from the Treasurer role in April and Secretary, Livia Labate, stepped in to handle those responsibilities. Meanwhile, Christian Crumlish agreed to serve as acting Secretary.

In September 2010, Board of Director elections were held. Christian Crumlish and Andrew Hinton both completed their second two-year term. Russ Unger and Livia Labate declined to run for a second terms. Meanwhile, Jonell Gades resigned her position due to an increase in her professional workload, leaving five open seats.

Ian Fenn from London, Dan Klyn from Ann Arbor, Jeff Parks from Ottawa, Dorian Taylor from Vancouver and Shari Thurow from the Chicago area, were elected to serve on the Board. They joined Andrea Resmini of Sweden, who is continuing the second year of his two-year term. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank outgoing board members, Christian Crumlish, Will Evans, Jonell Gades, Livia Labate, and Russ Unger, for their service.

The new Board unanimously elected Andrea Resmini as President and chose Jeff Parks as Secretary and Dan Klyn as Treasurer.

Five other areas of responsibility were also delegated, although the roles were assigned more loosely this year than in previous years:

Ian Fenn, Support to President/Vice President role
Dan Klyn, Professional Practice, including Grants, Student/Local Groups, Webinars
Jeff Parks, Mentoring
Dorian Taylor, Technology/Infrastructure
Shari Thurow, Events, Marketing/Communications, Resources/Library

It is important to note that these areas of responsibility are not new initiatives. Rather, they are simply a way for us to channel information and thus provide faster action on key operational issues. Board members spent the first few weeks discussing the vision and initiatives the Institute should pursue. A retreat was scheduled for February to discuss strategy for the next two years.

At the time of the election, Will Evans resigned his Board seat. The sitting board had made a decision to delay announcement of the vacancy until after the election was held and to allow the new board to decide whether to hold a special election for the open seat. The unanimous decision of the new board was to reduce the number of board seats to six rather than to hold a special election for the seat vacated by Will. As the 2011 election approaches, the new board will revisit the number of open Board seats. Five is the minimum allowed in our by-laws.

Some additional discussion occurred around prospective changes to the election process, including requiring nominees to stand for specific executive offices and committee roles (e.g., Ombudsman, IDEA Chair and Chief Librarian). Any change to the election process would require changes to the by-laws. We will continue to review this option for future elections.

In order to show our desire to keep the Board of Directors accountable to the highest possible ethical and professional standard, it was agreed that Jeff will work on re-shaping the Code of Conduct he took from Google’s to reflect specifically the needs of the IAI. Jeff will send around a copy of the Word document to all Board members. All Board members will review the ideas within the original draft and provide Jeff an email with feedback about specifics they feel should be included / excluded. Jeff will then send an updated copy to the Board for a final edit. Dan will then take the final draft to the Lawyer for the IAI to review for implementation.

The Institute currently has two part-time staffers. Noreen Whysel has been our Operations Manager since September 2005 and Tim Bruns has served as our new Volunteer/Membership Coordinator since February 2010. Past Membership Coordinator, Melissa Weaver, continues to serve as a consultant on an ad hoc basis. It is important to note that in addition to their myriad "official" duties, both of these talented people have also devoted many unpaid hours to making the IDEA conference a practical reality and keeping many other initiatives running smoothly. The fact that we are as robust an organization as we are is due in no small part to their exceptional efforts.

Association Management
The Board began a search for an association management firm to take on the back office activities, such as mail handling, bookkeeping, and records storage. Supporting Strategies was hired fulfill this role. Supporting Strategies will also serve as our permanent address: 100 Cummings Center, Suite 111J, Beverly, MA 01915, USA.

As of December 2010, the incoming board had not selected its Advisory Board for 2010-2011, having decided to delay the decision until after a strategic planning meeting scheduled for February 2011. The following people served as Advisors in the past two years:

Advisors 2008-2009

Paul Ford, Brooklyn, NY, USA
Whitney Hess, New York, NY, USA
Rick Johnston, Richmond, VA, USA
Laura Lessa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Victor Lombard, New York, NY, USA
Matthew Milan, Toronto, Canada
Eric Reiss, Copenhagen, Denmark
Andrea Resmini, Jönköping, Sweden
Sarah Rice, San Francisco, CA, NY
Donna Spencer, Canberra, Australia

Advisors 2009-2010

Michael Angeles, New York, NY, USA
Jorge Arango, Panama City, Panama
Lane Becker, San Francisco, CA, USA
Sean Belka, Boston, MA, USA
Peter Bogaards, Almere Stad, Netherlands
Paul Ford, Brooklyn, NY, USA
Dave Gray, Portland, OR, USA
Jan Jursa, Berlin, Germany
Jonathan Knoll, Brooklyn, NY, USA
Michael Leis, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Peter Merholz, San Francisco, CA, USA
Kiki Mills, Boston, MA, USA
Peter Morville, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
Leisa Reichelt, London, United Kingdom
Stacy Surla, Poolesville, VA, USA
Christina Wodtke, San Francisco, CA, USA

We would like to express our gratitude for the commitment and enthusiasm demonstrated by all of our Advisors – past and present. A huge thank you for your ongoing support and wise counsel!

In 2010, we processed 1,329 memberships including 696 new memberships and 633 renewals. We ended the year with 1,449 members in 48 countries. Overall membership decreased by 20.8% from 2009. This represents a declining trend that began in 2008. Membership had increased by 25% between 2007 and 2008. The decrease could be related to continued decline of economic conditions worldwide, but we suspect that there are other factors including a dilution of focus over the past two years which led to increased competition for members with other organizations within the User Experience umbrella.

For this Annual Report, we are revising our renewal rate formula to reflect the rate at which those members eligible for renewal chose to renew their membership. In this formula, the renewal rate is equal to the number of renewals divided by the sum of renewals and expirations. The renewal rate was 47.6% in 2010 versus 27.0% in 2009, 30.3% in 2008, 23.2% in 2007 and 28.1% in 2006, when we first began analyzing membership data. This is a loyalty measure that indicates that members were more likely to renew in 2010 than they have been in previous years.

We processed 1,160 individual Professional membership subscriptions in 2010; 610 new Professional members joined, and 550 Professional members renewed their memberships. New Professional memberships made up approximately 53% of the Professional memberships processed in 2010.

We processed 121 Student membership subscriptions in 2010. New Student memberships made up approximately 67% of the Student memberships processed.

We processed 13 Professional Group membership subscriptions in 2009, ten of which were renewals.


The mostly unglamorous work of getting our ducks in a row continues apace. Outsourcing non-core competencies helps to maintain continuity of knowledge. Also, getting the back-end sorted out frees future boards to focus on the next round of improvements to features and services. We’re all honestly excited about liberating the Board (or at least future Boards) from reinventing the wheel from first principles every October. Below is a summary of back-office activities completed in 2010:

  • Administration: Supporting strategies was hired to serve as our association management firm.
  • Accounting: We selected Lee Mendel to be our accountant.
  • Bank: We moved our banking account to Bank of America.
  • Insurance: We secured Liability Insurance from Conterato Insurance Agency.
  • Treasury documentation: Jonell Gades created a treasury handbook, covering procedures and documentation requirements of the Treasurer role.
  • Email: An Email Center Pro account was created to manage the abundance of email coming into the account.

One of the unfortunate effects of the treasury and accounting firm changes is that the 2009 financial reports were delayed, meaning that our 2009 Annual Report was not published until well after the 2010 Board of Directors was elected. We are pleased to be back on track with the 2010 edition.

Business plan
The Institute is guided in its strategic direction by a business plan that was developed during 2007, and is continuously updated by the Board of Directors. This work indentified eight key areas of focus for the Institute over a two-year period.

  1. Provide a stellar web presence that is influential and represents our expertise in this arena.
  2. Build a strong, stable "back office" that enables a consistent handoff from each Board to the next, supports excellent member communication and volunteer coordination, and allows the Board to be more strategic and less tactical and operational.
  3. Increase the membership base and improve member retention.
  4. Increase activity on all continents.
  5. Achieve more frequent, accurate, and influential media coverage of IA and the IA Institute.
  6. Provide services and products that enable members to acquire outstanding IA skills, validate their practices and knowledge, and achieve a high level of confidence that they're doing good work.
  7. Support IAs becoming leaders within organizations (e.g. as CTO, CIO, or CEO); clarify and promote career paths to leadership.
  8. Gain the ear of the business community, and be viewed by business leaders as thought leaders in the User Experience domain.

2010 was a year spent focusing on the second item, building a stable back office. Having successfully completed this tack, the new Board will focus efforts on delivering on our vision to promote information architecture and increasing membership retention. This effort will involve redefining our audience and focusing on providing services that impact our constituents most effectively and efficiently. The Board will develop a strategy during a retreat scheduled for February 2011. The business plan likely will need to be updated for 2011 to reflect the resulting strategy.

Technology and Systems
Project Switchboard, launched in 2009, is our "Infrastructure Mending Project" with a goal to move our member system from the current, inefficient MemberClicks system to aMember. As noted in the 2009 annual report, aMember was selected as the best alternative, because it will allow for short-term improvements in member services and better control of those services, while also being compatible with our PayPal transaction processing system and any possible future migration of website infrastructure to Drupal 6. The Institute purchased a lifetime license to aMember in early 2010. Volunteer, Nicola de Franceschi, and Membership coordinator, Tim Bruns, worked together to implement the new membership system. As of year-end 2010, Nicola has:

  • Successfully tested import of MemberClicks data into aMember
  • Successfully tested access to protected (members-only) areas in the website
  • Successfully tested payments and renewals with Paypal

Once these tests are finalized, the system can be moved into the live site and integrated with the mailing lists on Mailman and other processes. This latter step is expected to be handled by aMember staff for a nominal fee. Full implementation and transfer of our membership system from MemberClicks to aMember is expected to take place by Spring 2011.

In 2010, we transitioned our Paypal account to a non-profit account in the Institute’s name. This give us full control of the account and added benefits for non-profits. The new account will be integrated with our improved member system.

As for our website, the Board has begun working on an overall website clean up to prepare for stronger communication of our vision and purpose and the restructuring of our offerings to members and the wider community. We will completely review and redesign the website with a goal toward a better focus on information architecture practice, resource integration and improved usability, as well as maintaining and improving search engine optimization. Dorian Taylor is leading this effort with the help of Shari Thurow, who has particular expertise in search engine optimization. Efforts completed in 2010 include a review and critique of the website by students attending Andrea Resmini’s class at the University of Jönköping, a complete content inventory focusing on correcting 301 redirects and broken links and a proposed site architecture developed by Shari Thurow. Volunteer, Janette Shew, has also completed a website review as part of a class project. Her report is expected in early 2011.


Explain IA contest
In January, Peter Morville launched Explain IA, a contest where we invited the Information Architecture community to explain information architecture. The goal was to create a public engagement of what IA is and how to communicate this to a wider audience. Entries ranged from silly to serious, stories using text, pictures, audio, and/or video about the authors’ relationship to IA. All were invited to enter, and IA Institute members voted for the winners. People took it in good humor and seemed to appreciate the challenge of "explaining" IA to friends and colleagues.

Various prizes were donated by sponsors, including IA Institute and Endeca ($1000 Grand Prize), nForm ($500 Best Video), Semantic Studios ($500 Best Diagram), User Interface Engineering (Virtual Seminar – random drawing), ASIS&T (Free IA Summit registration – random drawing). In addition, Rosenfeld Media, EightShapes and O’Reilly donated books for additional random drawings.

The winner of the grand prize of $1,000 (co-sponsored by Endeca and the IA Institute) was:

A Dinosaur Family Explains Information Architecture
by Nate Bolt and Kate Nartker of Bolt | Peters, San Francisco, CA, USA

The winner of the best video award of $500 (sponsored by nForm) was:

IAs are Like Robin Hood
by Matthew Hodgson of SMS Management & Technology, Canberra, Australia

The two winners (tie vote) of the best diagram award of $250 each (sponsored by Semantic Studios) were:

Information Architecture Connects People to Content
by Murray Thompson, Grande Prairie, Canada

My Son's Take on Explain IA
by Scott Baldwin of Critical Mass, Calgary, Canada

Monthly newsletter
As of year end 2010, there were 4,132 subscribers to our monthly newsletter, which highlights IAI news, volunteer opportunities, events from our calendar and news from our sponsors. The newsletter is available free to any subscriber. MailChimp, an IDEA sponsor, hosts our monthly newsletter for free. This system allows us to track subscription data, click rates, open rates and abuse reports. In 2010, we sent out seven newsletters and are working toward getting back up to one per month. Our open rate has ranged between 25-30%. Two special edition newsletters for the IDEA Conference had a more focused recipient group and open rates above 50%.
In 2010, website improvements focused on continuing to deliver pertinent information to our members and the larger IA/UX community. Major enhancements included the addition of a Drupal-based Volunteer Wiki at The Volunteer Wiki is based on the old Projects Wiki and allows project teams improved documentation and project organization. It will be used to hold information for volunteers on how to get access to tools (how we use Basecamp, workflow for how to publish things, how to get involved with current volunteer projects, etc). Archived information from the previously existing Projects Wiki, is being imported to the new system. Currently volunteers must request a login, but eventually it will be integrated with the Member Center login. Thanks to Andrea Resmini and Michael Angeles for implementing the wiki. Additional website improvements include revision of volunteer, mentoring and IA Progress Grant program pages.

The IA Institute started a LinkedIn group in 2008 and ended 2010 with over 3,000 members, up nearly 1,000 members since 2009. Last year, we extended the membership to nonmembers as a way to broaden the reach of our message and to the community in the larger world. Those members were introduced to our free online resources and invited to become Institute members. New discussion threads on LinkedIn offer another way for members to connect outside of our discussion list and continue to remain on topic. We are pleased with the conversation and networking that is facilitated via this resource.

The Institute maintains twitter accounts including @iainstitute and @IAisIN. To date, @iainstitute has seen an impressive response, with a steady growth of active followers with well over 3,000 followers by year end 2010. The @IAisIN account, now with 84 followers, was created for the 2010 IA Summit in Phoenix as a way to promote the Mentoring Booth. We have continued to use it to provide updates on the mentoring program and have plans to (possibly) use it for guest mentoring appearances in 2011, depending on feedback from prospective mentors.

The Information Architecture Institute group on Facebook had over 1,300 members as of year end 2010. The Facebook group is primarily used as a place to promote events and publications of the IA Institute. Wall postings by members are infrequent. As with LinkedIn, spam comments have been much less frequent than anticipated.

Get Satisfaction
Get Satisfaction was less well received. Although 137 people signed into our Get Satisfaction site, only twelve topics were posted since 2009, and most of these were posted by Board members. We feel that the problem is either that the "Feedback" button that links to Get Satisfaction on our website’s home page is not in a visible place or that people are choosing to contact us using other methods.

Members discussion list
The Members discussion list had 2,210 subscribers and 632 posts in 2010, which is quite a bit down from the 1,776 posts in 2009 and 4,006 posts in 2008. The reason the subscriber count of this members-only list is higher than the number of members is related to the Some of the most popular topics in 2010 were "How to Grow in the Field of IA," "Required vs. Optional Form Fields," "Research / information on large drop down menus," "Basic Prototyping Application," and "Reloaded: Forrester’s Take on IA" which further discussed our community’s reaction to the computing industry’s view of information architecture. We will continue to support this discussion list which is of considerable value to our membership.

Free discussion lists
The IAI also hosts discussion lists that are available to members and non-members. Each list is moderated by an IAI volunteer with support from IAI staff. Lists can be region specific like Australia-New Zealand and Portuguese-Brazil lists. They may be topic specific such as the UX management list and the Enterprise IA list. Volunteer Marianne Sweeny continues to provide a job-listing digest to any interested subscribers.


The Information Architecture Institute conducts and participates in events that are established to help further the practice of Information Architecture across the globe. Through these events, we continue to build and strengthen our presence as the leading resource for Information Architecture.

The IDEA Conference
In October the Institute hosted the fifth edition of Information: Design, Experience, Access, our yearly conference about the issues that affect designers of complex information spaces. The conference, which was held in Philadelphia’s Independence Seaport Museum, featured the theme, Integration: Designing for Tomorrow. With 186 registered attendees, slightly lower than the 206 who were registered at IDEA 2009.

IDEA 2010 featured 25 speakers from a wide variety of fields, including Peter Morville of Semantic Studios, Jeffrey Zeldman of Happy Cog, Karen McGrane of Bond Art + Science, Dave Gray of XPLANE, Jared Spool of UIE and Jared’s son, the magician, reed spool. The conference also featured pre-conference workshops on A Practical Approach to Designing Valuable Meetings with Kevin M. Hoffman, Kate Rutter, Dave DeRuchie, Brett Harned and Designing Communities of Care: Strategic Social Interaction Design for Healthcare with Amy Cueva.

New this year was an ambitious panel called "(How Is This All) Going To Work? What We Teach, How We Learn, and What Employers Want" with Dan Klyn, Liz Danzico, Richard Dalton, Amanda Schonfeld, Cindy Chastain, Katie McCurdy and Erin Moore. The session sought to illuminate the thoughts, themes, and threads that connect practice and teaching, students with knowledge and job-seekers with rewarding opportunities to practice. The 7 short talks represented a wide continuum of UX work and preparation for work, including a graduate student, two teachers, a recruiter, a junior-level practitioner, the director-level practitioner she reports to, and a UX practice manager in charge of hiring for a large company.

IDEA is also an important source of income for the Institute. In this regard we were also considerably less successful than last year: profit from was down 58% from the IDEA 2009, primarily due to higher cost of producing an event in Philadelphia versus Toronto and a smaller pool of sponsors. The amount of revenue from registrations was nearly the same as 2009, $70,300 versus $71,630 in 2009.

Despite lower net revenues IDEA 2010 was a major success based on feedback received after the show. Two thirds of attendees rated the sessions "Very Good" to "Excellent" and a whopping 97% indicated that they would recommend the conference to colleagues. Thanks to our loyal sponsors: Mad*Pow, MailChimp, Axure, Infragistics, Rosenfeld Media, Morgan Kaufman, and New Riders, as well as community partners IxDA and PhillyCHI for helping us put on such a highly rated conference.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped make IDEA 2010 a success, and especially our volunteers. Twenty people volunteered their time to help plan, organize, advertise and staff this successful event. We thank our volunteers for their countless hours and continued dedication to the IDEA Conference.

The IA Summit
The Summit, which is organized by the American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T), was held in Phoenix, Arizona, USA in April 2010. Once again, the Institute was highly visible, with a permanent table set up in the main exhibit hall, where attendees could learn about the Institute. As we’ve done in past years, we also hosted the popular IA Mentoring Booth, which this year featured special guest mentor Richard Saul Wurman during the Saturday evening poster session. In addition, the Institute sponsored a speed mentoring session at a nearby Greek restaurant on Thursday before the welcome reception and a 75th birthday party and karaoke party for Mr. Wurman on Saturday night.

The Institute also organized and presented a preconference workshop at the Summit entitled IA Institute Workshop "Beyond Findability: IA Practice & Strategy for the New Web" with Andrew Hinton, Christian Crumlish, Erin Malone, Cindy Chastain, Matthew Milan, Joe Lamantia. This day-long workshop covered topics such as Designing for context using scalable frameworks, Design patterns for the social web, How IA can help drive business & design strategy, rather than merely answer to it and Tactics for integrating IA with other design disciplines & peers. We are pleased to report a $1,500 net profit from the pre-conference.

The Institute will continue to support the IA Summit through sponsorship, leadership workshops and various activities throughout the event.

Regional Events
During 2010, the Institute sponsored or partnered with a variety of IA-related events including:

  • Euro IA in Paris, France
  • IA Konferenz in Cologne, Germany
  • IA Summit in Phoenix, Arizona
  • Italian IA Summit in Pisa, Italy
  • Polish IA Summit in Warsaw, Poland

The Institute provides financial sponsorship of these events, as well as strategic and marketing assistance. However, they would not be possible without the leadership and hard work of local IA professionals and students. We thank them all, and look forward to helping them develop their local communities and IA-related initiatives during 2011.

IA Institute Event Promotions
The IA Institute promotes conferences, workshops, and meetings through direct email, our event calendar and newsletter. Free events are posted directly. Events with free registration are approved by a board member and those that are not free typically offer a discounted registration to IA Institute members or another arrangement, such as free passes for student emissaries who will then write up the event for our newsletter. The activities provide a lot of value to our partners and emphasize our need for a more robust and flexible infrastructure so we can continue to deliver on those expectations. In 2010, the event calendar posted 48 total events.

In 2010, volunteers Alex Hogan and Jennifer Brook created a streamlined events promotion form using Google Documents. Approved event partners may now use the form to notify us of upcoming events, provide copy, logos, suggested Twitter feed and member discount information. Local group leaders also have access to posting local events directly to the calendar.

We would like to thank these event organizers for their continued support. We hope to see a lot from all of you in 2011.


As our organization gains momentum, it’s only natural that we seek to formalize partnerships with allied institutions, professional groups – and even individuals.

Our partners fall into three distinct categories:

  • Professional organizations
  • Event organizers
  • Corporate sponsors

Professional Organization Partners include organizations that help the Institute advance its mission. Partnerships may include agreements to exchange resources, interoperate technically, and act together to form a community of people and ideas. Continued relationships with our longstanding partners have brought excellent benefits to IAI members from event and product discounts for our membership to free podcast recording of our events.

The IA Institute promotes our partners’ events and web content through our website, newsletter and event calendar.

Current Professional Partners include:

  • AIIM
  • American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T)
  • Boxes and Arrows
  • CMSWatch
  • Interaction Design Association (IxDA)
  • IAKM Program at Kent State
  • Journal of Information Architecture
  • Justinmind
  • Optimal Workshop
  • Peachpit Press
  • Rosenfeld Media
  • University of Baltimore
  • Web Indexing Special Interest Group of the American Society of Indexers
  • UX Book Club
  • UXnet

We extend special thanks to volunteers at UXnet, which disbanded in 2010. UXnet provided a forum for local groups and events since 2001 and will be missed.

In addition, thanks to founder Bev Corwin, we have extended introductory handshakes to several professional associations including the Research Libraries Association, American Translation Association and the Association for Machine Translation in the Americas. We expect to offer sponsor table swaps at our respective conferences, meet and introduce ourselves to members of these organizations and gauge interest in our initiatives and member offerings.

Event Partners include groups who arrange conferences and events focused on IA or closely related to IA interests, which offer our members a significant reduction on the admission price and/or other benefits. These partnership agreements are made on an ad hoc basis and include free events as well. The Institute provides two kinds of support to these partners:

  • Online promotions, in which the Institute offers promotional assistance for the event.
  • Financial support for an event.

Event Partners in 2010 included 29 organizations representing 50 events throughout the year (some events will take place in 2011):

  • Adaptive Path UX Intensive
  • ark Group IA Masterclass
  • Big Design Conference
  • EuroIA
  • Follow the UX Leader
  • Guardian Careers
  • IA Konferenz
  • IA Summit 2010
  • IAKM Online Information Session
  • International Conference on User Science and Engineering, Malaysia
  • Italian IA Summit
  • IxDA Interaction10
  • LA UX Meetup
  • Netherlands UX Cocktail Hour
  • Online Information 2010
  • Semantic Technology Conference
  • STC India User Research and Usability SIG
  • UIE Virtual Seminar
  • UX Australia
  • UX Intensive, Toronto
  • UX Hong Kong
  • UX Lx
  • UX Paris Meetup
  • UX Week
  • World Usability Day
  • WritersUA Conference

Corporate Sponsors and Partners are commercial entities who provide economic or technical support to the Institute and to our members in exchange for promotion on our website and newsletter. Corporate sponsors help to fund Institute operations and activities. The IDEA conference enjoyed strong corporate sponsorship in 2010.

Corporate sponsors offering member discounts in 2010 included AIIM, Justinmind, Optimal Workshop, Peachpit Press and Rosenfeld Media. Corporate sponsors of the 2010 IDEA Conference included Mad*Pow, MailChimp, Axure, Infragistics, Rosenfeld Media, Morgan Kaufman, and New Riders, as well as community partners IxDA and PhillyCHI.


In 2009, a Webinar Taskforce made significant improvements to our distance learning / curriculum program, including revenue model for such a system. This team was comprised of Board member Andrew Hinton, Melissa Weaver and volunteers Jennifer Brook and Alex Hogan. Investigations resulted in an updated Standard Promotion Agreement for non-Institute events and a new Webinar and Events Promotion Policy developed by Melissa, and an online Event Intake Form developed by Alex. Jennifer entered into negotiations with education providers resulting in an expansion of our current offerings of discounts for members by year end. As of year end 2010, 37 events offering some type of discount or giveaway were entered into the new system, including some event organizers who approached us directly, such as the Guardian UK Careers workshop and Big Design Workshop in Dallas.

We are continuing to watch for opportunities to expand educational initiatives. Some ideas included developing Information Architecture video tutorials and updating mentoring documentation as well as creating video transcripts of IDEA content for the hearing impaired. Initiatives such as these cannot go forward without volunteers, so our immediate goal for 2011 is further improvements to our volunteer recruitment and retention programs.

Job Board
The Job Board continues to be an important service of the Institute, and usage is up. Despite a significant drop in job postings in 2009, postings rebounded in 2010 with a total of 668 postings, versus 452 in 2009. Full time postings reached 446 in 2010, with February, March and October reaching more than 50 postings each. Part time postings were also strong versus 2009, with 222 in 2010 versus 157 in 2009. This is compared to 667 positions, including 514 full time and 153 contract jobs, in 2008 and 818 positions, including 629 full time and 189 part time jobs in 2007.

Hearty thanks are due to volunteers Samantha Bailey, our steadfast job approver, and Marianne Sweeny, who as the job board newsletter editor, injects a weekly shot of personality and warmth into our communications.

The IA Library serves as a repository of resources related to the discipline of Information Architecture. Andrea is looking into the long-standing library refactoring, and determined that it makes sense to migrate to a modular, Drupal-based approach. We are looking into past ideas, proposals, content inventories to make sense of the grandiose mass of content and junk that the website is today so that we can (re)build it piece by piece, which is the only way to go given the current constraints/voluntary approach, without losing sight of the larger picture.

To date, we have completed incorporating the featured IA Tools into the library and continued entering content from IDEA, IA Summit, Journal of Information Architecture, Boxes and Arrows and translated resources. We are seeking volunteers to provide written transcripts of video content. The new board has appointed Shari Thurow to develop a strategy for library resources, given her library science and search background. Board member, Dan Klyn, who also has a background in library science will work with Shari on this effort.

To supplement our library efforts, Andrea Resmini continues to manage the library codebase, with the help of volunteer, Nicola De Franceschi. Andrea also continues manages the Information Architecture group on where IAs can share and discuss books covering topics in information architecture. Join group at

Local Groups
Throughout the year the Institute continued to provide support for local groups, including the sponsorship of regional conferences, engagement with the Alliance Research initiative to develop new services through existing industry and educational networks, support of the IA Education initiative, and support of the Translation initiative. Local Groups and global networking planning activities are continuing with the creation of a viable Local Groups strategy.

One area that appears promising is Student Chapters and the board has expanded its approach, reaching out to universities and offering student emissary roles at sponsored conferences. The board supported a loose affiliation model, in which any student group renews participation by having a faculty member be a member of the Institute, similar to the Group affiliation for professional level memberships. Brad Nunnally was appointed to serve as student chapter liaison under the guidance of board member Andrew Hinton. Brad found that student groups would like the Institute’s support with promoting and finding speakers for students in the field.

Andrew Hinton continued to work with Gil Barros in Brazil about developing our loose-ties approach to local groups. Andrea Resmini will also be working with other leaders in communities around the world and how we will team together; specifically he will be working with the German community where they have been incredibly successful and how we can promote the IAI more effectively. Additionally, the Institute has continued to support local groups currently affiliated with the Institute, including new groups such as the STC IA subgroup in Bangalore, the South Africa UX Forum in Johannesburg, and the Turkey IA Group in Istanbul and all continuing local groups of the recently disbanded UXnet.

We plan to explore the connections between local groups, student activity and the mentoring program further in 2011.

Mentoring is one of our key offerings and one of the main ways in which the Institute can help to develop IA practitioners and to differentiate itself in the UX arena. In 2010, we received 172 mentoring applications from prospective protégés and increased our mentor roster to 137, ten more than last year. Four mentors requested removal from the program for personal or professional reasons. The figures indicate a continued growth of the mentoring program from previous years, but there remains a worrying shortage of volunteer mentors.

Noreen Whysel, our Operations Manager, devotes several hours a month of unpaid time to make introductions and walk protégés through the process of finding, interviewing and selecting mentors, in addition to paid hours developing the program and mentoring systems. We have been better able to manage the backlog of protégé applicants, as mentors have become much more communicative.

Since IxDA’s Interaction10 in Savannah, Andrew Hinton and Noreen Whysel of IA Institute and Janna de Vylder and Meredith Noble of IxDA have been meeting regularly via conference calls and in person meetings to discuss ways to work with each other to extend and improve both of our organization’s existing mentoring programs. The sheer size of the IxDA program presents additional challenges and opportunities for which we hope to find solutions together.

And we have instituted alternate mentoring processes, such as peer to peer mentoring, where we introduce protégé applicants from the same area to each other, partnering with book clubs and UX show and tells and expanding our documented programs such as speed mentoring and online mentoring vie the @IAisIN twitter feed. We are grateful for the many protégés who have expressed to us their continued gratitude and patience.

The UX-Management list, a discussion list for management level IAs, serves as a successful peer-to-peer mentoring forum. Membership increased to 600 in 2010, having grown by approximately 100 members every year since 2007.

In 2011 we would like to continue to expand our available mentors list and provide our members educational and networking experiences that supplement the mentoring program. Through continued recruiting and planning more mentoring events, we will ensure that our mentoring program becomes the best program in this discipline.

Progress grants
Each year, the Information Architecture Institute awards two USD $1,000 Progress Grants. The purpose of the program is twofold:

  • To encourage researchers and practitioners to investigate IA-specific issues, and
  • To publicize useful work that furthers the information architecture body of knowledge.

2010 IA Progress Grant recipients included:

    Terrence Fenn and Jason Hobbs, "Cognition Thinking in Information Architecture"
  • Tanya Rabourn, Designing Users: "Design Discourse and User Personas"

The first half of the award was to be presented in January 2011. The second half will be presented on receipt of the final research papers and will be posted to our website in June 2011.

2010 IA Progress Grant Awards Jury included:

Samantha Starmer, REI, USA, Jury Chair
Andrew Hinton, Macquarium, USA
Keith Instone, IBM, USA
Matthew Milan, Normative Design, Canada
Judit Pónya, University of Szeged/Fluxon Ltd., Hungary
Andrea Resmini, University of Borås/FatDUX, Sweden

Second Life
The IAI’s Second Life initiative sought to explore and model good IA practices in crafting complex information spaces and shaping the user experience in shared virtual environments; provide the IA Institute and its partner organizations with a virtual presence for promotion, education, and membership development; and use Second Life as a platform for IA-related workshops, events, and collaboration.

In the Board’s November 2009 initiative review, it was determined that the affinity of the Second Live project with the goals of the Institute was not sufficiently articulated and that there was not enough ongoing activity by Institute project teams to justify the $1,700 annual investment in this project. The board voted to terminate the initiative in 2010.

Salary Survey
The 2010 IAI Salary Survey was the seventh salary survey conducted since 2003. Members of the IA Institute, IxDA and sigia-l were invited to participate. A total of 282 responses were collected, less than in 2009. The salary range was a tie between the USD$80,000-90,000 and USD$90,000-100,000 ranges, each representing 12.8% of the total responses however the three next-higher groups each represented about 11% of the total. The inferred mean salary (not counting the Over $200,000 USD and Under $20,000 USD groups) was $97,298 USD, up $7,298 USD since 2009. For comparison purposes, the median midpoint was $94,999 USD. Responses for freelance hourly rate ranged from USD$25.00 to USD$6,444.28 per hour (or USD$250.00 per hour, if you exclude two outliers). Excluding outliers, the average freelance rate was USD$88.65, up USD$3.65 over 2009. The median rate was USD$85.00 and the modal rate was USD$100.00, with eight people indicating that rate.

The gender split continues to be nearly even with 52.7% female and 47.4% male. The inferred average salary for females was USD$90,513, lower than males' salaries (USD$100,533) for the first time since we began tracking this data. Median salary, on the other hand was the same for males and females (USD$94,999, reflecting a modal response in the USD$90,000-$99,999 range). We also noted a slight salary advantage for those with Masters Degrees over those without and an enormous advantage for those with doctorates; unfortunately the number of respondents with doctorates may be too small to definitively answer the "Should I or shouldn’t I go to grad school?" question.

You can find the full survey at:

The Translation of Information Architecture initiative (TIA) represents our effort to promote IA internationally by translating key IA documents and our website to several major languages. In 2010, The Translations team, led by Janette Shew, had 19 active translators in 14 languages. In 2010, the team worked on 22 translations of which 17 were completed and added to the library. The library currently holds dozens of translations in 14 languages with additional languages on the way. The website has 11 language sites. Translators work in language based teams with at least one reviewer to check completed work before it is published. Our Italian team is the strongest with five members participating in quarterly conference calls.

Language websites for each of these languages are either launched or in progress. Plans for a redesigned translations website are included in the overall infrastructure redesign initiative. We expect significant improvements to our language sites beginning in mid-2010.

Janette Shew continues to lead the article translation initiative, while Operations Manager, Noreen Whysel, manages the websites. Volunteers have been recruited and are utilizing Basecamp for project management and the Volunteer Wiki for documentation.

As an organization that depends on volunteers to get just about everything done, we feel it is an area that could use a lot of improvement. One of the first things we need to do is redefine our volunteering policy to set expectations of what it means to be a volunteer and how that adds value both to the Institute and to the members/volunteers themselves. We are using the Volunteer Wiki for this purpose. Second, but no less important, is to come up with ways to show our appreciation of our volunteers beyond the thank you letter in our annual holiday newsletter. Examples of volunteer benefits that the Institute has a history of providing include free event tickets (IDEA volunteers get into the event free) and student emissary passes, the Volunteer Spotlight on the website (which could be revived), gift cards, profiles in the monthly newsletter, raffles, contests and giveaways. We will be seeking additional ideas for thanking our volunteers in 2011.

Download the 2010 full report with financial data (PDF 180K).

This page was last modified on March 28, 2011 08:05 PM.