Using Narrative Taxonomy
in UX Design
a concept introduction"
28 July 2013
People should learn how to play Lego with
their minds. Concepts are building bricks.
Important note! This is not the
actual presentation for the
proposed SXSW session, but an
overview of some of the concepts
and ideas to be explored.
Taxonomies tell stories"
A couple of years ago, three information scientists
proposed a narrative understanding of taxonomy, to
make it easier to adapt existing taxonomies to
changing content needs. They suggested a data
algorithm to address this issue.
I’d like to suggest some simpler approaches.
e primary role of a taxonomy is to describe
or narrate the natural relationships between
–Mario Cataldi, K. Selçuk Candan, & Maria Luisa Sapino
How to Recognize, Analyze, and Apply
Narrative Taxonomy Patterns
to Speak More Clearly to Your Users
Had this been a 19th century monograph with a greater than 50
character limit, an alternative title might have been:
Why is this helpful?"
• Narrative taxonomies provide a helpful alternative to
traditional UX taxonomy development.
• While information architects and content strategists are
frequently asked to help design taxonomies, they are
not always paired, and do not always have a taxonomy
background. Narrative taxonomy helps bridge the gap
between the diﬀerent fields.
• Humans are narrative-driven creatures. We tell – and
listen to – stories.
Working at a social network, I applied Philip K. Dick’s unsurprisingly unique
definition of historicity to help users write their own personal narratives using
tags. Is this a narrative taxonomy?
Not only can
fit well into a
To the right,
Narrative taxonomies break molds"
So many think of taxonomy design as mere categorization. But
applying a narrative approach allows for more playfulness, and
breaks designers out of existing or traditional hierarchies.
Be sensible but don't be impressed too much by
negative arguments. If at all possible, try it and
see what turns up. eorists almost always
dislike this sort of approach.
Shifting concept sentence structure reveals
diﬀerent aspects of the same category.
Narrative taxonomies help you see multiple
Taxonomies tell stories.
Those stories have recognizable patterns.
Narrative taxonomies have implications for UX design.
Understanding taxonomies as stories helps both
information architects and content strategists when
working as taxonomists.
Narrative taxonomies can inspire new insights.