Product Is the New Big IA

Sunday, April 7 2013

9:30 AM

Thirteen years ago Gayle Curtis likened a “Big Information Architect” to “an orchestra conductor or film director, conceiving a vision and moving the team forward.” In the meantime, different-sized IAs gave way to UX designers, but in some shops there is another central role: product manager.

What you may be surprised to learn is that a substantial part of a product manager’s job is…information architecture. Describing a landscape, ecosystem, or roadmap and communicating a set of goals and priorities requires the exact meaning-mapping skills that IA is all about.

This panel features three people trained in IA and UX who are now filling a product role, to discover whether this parallel between “big” IA and product holds in other contexts, to discuss potential career paths, and to take questions from an audience that might be intrigued by the relationship.

Christian Crumlish

PhotoChristian Crumlish leads product and user experience teams to deliver amazing cross-channel experiences. He is director of product at CloudOn, co-chairs the monthly BayCHI program and has been director of messaging products for AOL, curator of the Yahoo design pattern library, and director of the Information Architecture Institute.

He is the author of the bestselling The Internet for Busy People, and The Power of Many, and co-author most recently of Designing Social Interfaces with Erin Malone.

Donna Lichaw

PhotoDonna is the mobile product manager at Grovo where she leads iPhone, iPad, mobile web, and mobile first initiatives. She specializes in getting people to think big by thinking small.

Before joining Grovo, Donna worked on mobile, web, consumer, and educational technology for a variety of startups and Fortune 500 companies. Before that, she was a filmmaker…which isn’t that different from her roles as a senior IA. Or UX lead. Or product manager.

When she’s not changing the world through educational technology, she’s educating technologists at places like Parsons and General Assembly in New York City.

Bryce Glass

PhotoBryce is Product Manager, Mobile and APIs at, an online community for small businesses. Prior to Manta, Bryce has designed social and community products for some of the web’s best-known brands (Netscape, America Online and Yahoo!).

Bryce is coauthor of Building Web Reputation Systems (O’Reilly, 2010) and lives and works in Columbus, OH.