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Toronto 2020

Ontario Canada


North America

We are excited to bring World IA Day back to Toronto for 2020! Organized by students at the University of Toronto Faculty of Information, our celebration will consist of five main talks, as well as lightning speakers and a panel. The event is sold out.


Please read this section carefully:

  • Doors open at 9:30 a.m. Please note that you are required to be in line at Shopify by 10 a.m. on Saturday for your Eventbrite ticket to be valid. After 10 a.m., we will begin to let people in from the waitlist line. 
  • Due to high demand, we cannot guarantee your spot if you arrive after 10 a.m. If the event venue reaches capacity before you enter, you may return later in the day to see if there is space available.
  • Thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation to create a smooth registration experience for all.

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Event date
Sat, 22 February 2020

Venue, parking and transit


February 22, 2020 (Saturday)


10:00 am – 3:00 pm


80 Spadina Avenue, 4th Floor
L4 Lounge
Toronto, ON M5V 2J4

View on Google Maps


Free parking is not available at the venue. Paid parking is available in the lot next to the building. We strongly encourage the use of public transportation.


We are excited to confirm that we will have live captioning at our entire event, provided by Canadian Hearing Services!

The nearest subway station is St. Andrew Station. There is a scheduled TTC subway closure on event day between Bloor-Yonge and Osgoode, which will affect St. Andrew Station. Shuttle buses will operate. Please factor this in to your travel time.

The entrance to Shopify is on 80 Spadina Avenue. The doorway is 36” with a small lip.

The elevator to the venue space has a 36” door, and is 41” by 52” on the inside. There are no braille or audio announcements, but a volunteer will ride the elevator to ensure people arrive on the correct floor.

There are several accessible washrooms. There are no powered doors, but a volunteer will be posted at the washrooms. The doorway is 34”. Washrooms are equipped with horizontal grab bars.

All washrooms are single user, non gendered.

The Shopify office is scent free.

All flooring is hardwood.

The audience space is on a platform with a 15 degree ramp leading up.

Should you require any additional accommodations, please let us know before the event.


Below is our tentative agenda.

Registration & Networking   

9:30 AM -
10:00 AM



10:00 AM -
10:10 AM


Morning Presentations 

10:10 AM -
11:00 AM

  • Ryan Bigge: Senior Content Strategist, Shopify
    Tactical Information Architecture: For over 20 years, information architecture has played a critical role in digital design. Despite its longevity (or maybe because of it), IA would benefit from a slight rebrand. Instead of philosophical musings (books like Intertwingled and Living in Information) IA should have a more tactical focus (books like How to Make Sense of Any Mess and Everyday Information Architecture). Using personal examples, this talk will argue that some IA is better than none.
  • Paul Eisen, PhD PEng: Principal, Eisen UX
    Footings & Fixtures: Foundations of Design: As the backgrounds of design practitioners continue to broaden with the movement of design thinking into the mainstream, rigour in experience design is waning. Arguably, the phase of the design process that is most heavily compromised is high-level design. Frankly, this shouldn't be a surprise; it's not like we ever had a really crisp definition and approach to high-level design to apply to a broad range of digital solutions.

    In this talk, I'll focus on the value of the high-level design phase in developing digital products and solutions, and suggest an approach to getting the most of our efforts in this phase. I'll define and illustrate an "experience-design (XD) framework" and show how it can fulfill the goals of high-level design. And I'll break down the XD framework into its elements, including aspects of information architecture.

Break & Networking

11:00 AM -
11:20 AM



11:20 AM -
12:00 PM

Reconciling IA and UX. Moderated by Colin Furness, PhD: Assistant Professor, University of Toronto Faculty of Information

Panel participants:

  • Jane Motz Hayes: Partner, Experience Design, ICF Next
  • Maria Pereda: Director of Product Design, Roadmunk
  • Thiveya Muthu, Senior User Experience Designer at TELUS Digital

Panel questions:

  • The design pendulum has swung, over 20 years, from IA to UX. Can it swing back? Should it?
  • Have IA holy grails like readability and findability been trampled by the UX stampede to look and feel? Has there been a deskilling in the design community around presenting information?
  • IA implies a custom design approach to a given audience, context, and purpose of use; by contrast, pattern libraries and out-of-the-box websites imply a standardized/universal design approach. Is design getting better or worse?

Lunch & Networking

12:00 PM -
1:00 PM


Lightning Talks

1:00 PM -
1:40 PM

  • Donna Vitan: Senior UX/UI Designer, TELUS Digital & Freelance
    IA is a Spider Web, Not a Tree: My talk is for designers, developers, content practitioners, and business stakeholders. It's an introduction to object oriented UX and how it's a more abstract way of thinking about information architecture and content. We need to look at content in a more abstract way in order to scale information in more flexible and robust way. As designers for digital experiences, we need to be more aware of the structure of the experience we create for people. We can't just focus on the design of a single block of content, a single page, or a single user flow, and that means taking a step back and being mindful of how it connects back to the larger organization of information.
  • Jen Serdetchnaia: Product Design Lead, Scotiabank Digital Factory
    User in the Driver's Seat: Dynamic Site Maps: Today’s users expect to be in the driver’s seat of their digital experiences. As designers, it is our obligation to put diverse users’ mental models at the forefront of creating personalized, inclusive experiences and user-oriented navigation. The static site map that served our needs so well for websites and apps is now evolving into a branched map co-drawn with each user. Going back to the essential elements of Information Architecture—hierarchy, taxonomy and navigation enablement—is what supports our practice through this evolution. I will share my experience architecting and designing chat and search products across industries, and discuss how going back to first principles with Information Architecture can help you evolve your practice to meet the demand for dynamic experiences.
  • Dandi Feng: UX Analyst, Porter Airlines
    Making It Work: Information Architecture Design in a Multilingual Context: Can you simply translate an information architecture from one language to another? The English label on a button can actually break the usability of the same button in French. We designers most often design in the language context of our native tongue, it's how we make ourselves comfortable. However, are we ignoring the experience of a whole other group of users outside of our own language? Having been an ESL learner who now designs products in English and French, I would like to point out the structural/design conflicts in a multilingual context and introduce design strategies to address these conflicts. I wish the audience can walk away with a heightened awareness of how language plays a big role in accessibility, layout, labelling and navigation.
  • Aman Biswas: Product Designer, Shopify
    What is a Product?: In the industrial era, designers would create blueprints for manufacturing physical, discrete artifacts. As products become more immaterial and interconnected, designers today instead are not only faced with new challenges of dependencies and scale, but also problems of social inequity and environmental degradation. When designing for complexity, we cannot afford to simply "Move Fast and Break Things"; for our products to adapt and endure, we must tackle the real design problem: time. Using Stewart Brand's "Pace Layers Thinking", I will explore how we can take a systems approach to product design to build for the long-term.

Afternoon Presentations

1:40 PM -
2:30 PM

  • Michael Priestley: Information Architect, IBM
    Enterprise Information Architecture - A Case Study in Progress: When you've got tens of millions of pages, stored in dozens of CMSs, managed by hundreds of organizations with no single oversight board, and you know the experience is broken...

    How do you fix it? Where do you even begin? How do you reconcile the conflicting goals of multiple business units, of multiple kinds, with multiple disciplines and departments supporting different stages of the customer journey? How can they all act as a single company in service to the customer's needs, instead of a patchwork of competing org charts?

    I'm happy to share my ludicrously ambitious work in progress - a topic-oriented information architecture based on data, managed with metadata, and scaled with AI to reorganize around customer interests.

  • Andrea Ong: Director of Product Design, Loblaw Digital
    The Secret Life of Information Architecture: the Space Between Tools and Theories: Many of us work in the mundane world where we earn our living and pay our bills by designing websites and apps. I meet designers who’ve never really heard of information architecture. At best, some guess it has something to do with navigation menus; some think of site maps (which sound a bit old-school now). And from there, the mind map branches off into tools: labels, hierarchies, navigation menu UIs (should it be a click or a hover or both). Most of us haven’t had the opportunity to work in the broader context of IA that includes content strategy. Regardless, what gets shipped doesn’t always align with all the good stuff we learned during the design process. What’s going on?

    Some of us have been inspired by talks, articles, and books with warning calls about the ethics and politics of information architectures. We’re told case studies of better social outcomes from design processes that consider ethics and politics. Knowing that IA is a political act, a statement of values, an expression of power, how will you and I practise our craft day to day? What does it really mean at the pragmatic, tactical, hands-on level?

    This talk proposes that finding the space between designing the surfaces of IA and the ethics or politics of IA is about zoom levels. We need to zoom out of the immediate details of the design work to see the fuller terrain of information architecture. To say that IA is political means seeing that IA starts at the structural level, which enables us to ask different questions. Questions such as: who are all the actors in the system, not just the “customer”; what is the business model; what is the operational model; what is the full value chain; who stands to gain or lose by any action; what are the broader contexts in which the organization operates? And more.

    Seeing IA beyond skin deep opens up new avenues for us to frame problems and opportunities, to diagnose and solve problems, and to realize that every solution is an act of negotiation and balance, a best fit for the conditions.

Closing Remarks & Networking

2:30 PM -
3:00 PM