How to Make Sense of Any Mess
In a world where everything is getting more complex and we are all experiencing personal information overload, there is a growing need to understand the tools and processes that are used to make sense of complex subjects and situations. These tools aren’t hard to learn or even tough to implement but they are also not part of many people’s education. Information Architecture is a practice of making sense. A set of principles, lessons and tools to help anyone make sense of anything. Whether you are – a student or professional, a designer, technologist or small business owner, an intern or executive – learn how information architecture can help you make sense of your next endeavor.
The majority of messes we face are
made of information (and people)
as material is hard
Information can be
made from the lack
of physical material
$3.99 $7.99 $5.75
What you know
are left with.
• Data is facts, observations, and questions about something.
• Content is whatever a user is interacting with, or as a
maker, whatever you’re arranging or sequencing.
• Information is is whatever a user interprets from the
arrangement or sequence of things they encounter.
Information ≠ Content or Data
There are only 5 ways to organize anything
1. Location: Rome is a city in Italy
2. Alphabetical: Rome starts with “R”
3. Time: Rome started in 753 BC
4. Category: Rome is a Romantic city
5. Hierarchy: Rome is within Italy, which is within Europe,
which is within the Eastern and Northern Hemisphere
*HT Richard Saul Wurman - Informa6on Anxiety 2
isn't the hard part
Agreeing is the
In most contexts, taxonomy is a tool
of rhetoric not an exact science.
If Fresh Direct classiﬁed produce
scientiﬁcally, no one would be able
to ﬁnd anything.
In the 19th century, the
US Supreme Court
decided that for the
purpose of tariffs,
tomatoes are a vegetable.
Taxonomy is Rhetoric
The way you choose to organize your
produce says something about you.
There is no one right way to organize something.
The only thing that matters is reaching your goals.
Beware of corporate underpants.
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Users are often confused when our
internal categories end up in our