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Make Sense:
Information architecture
for everybody
Presented by: Abby Covert | @Abby_the_IA
3
Information
Architecture (IA)
is a practice of
making sense
5
Objects aid
us in discourse
Typical IA Problems
• Too much information:
Overwhelming use of messages
and notifications
• Not the right information:
Con...
Tools of IA
• Ontological Clarifiers
• Taxonomic Structures
• Diagrammatic Techniques
• User Research
• Market Research
• O...
Why is
Information
Architecture
important for
everybody to
understand?

9
Because The world is complex

• People face more choices and avenues
• Businesses are under more pressure
• Technology is ...
because
Communication is about

understanding

11
How people understand

Data

Contextless,
Exhaustive, not
curated, not meant
to inform the
consumer

•
•
•
•

Research
Cre...
“To make an apple
pie from scratch, you
must first invent the
universe”
- Carl Sagan

13
Complexity can get in
the way of true

understanding
Rabbit Hole of
Complexity

14
Some Enemies that lurk in Complexity

List adapted from Richard Saul Wurman’s Information Anxiety 2

15
Some Enemies that lurk in Complexity
•

Familiarity: Being too close to the problem can make you forget to
remember what i...
Some Enemies that lurk in Complexity
•

Familiarity: Being too close to the problem can make you forget to
remember what i...
Some Enemies that lurk in Complexity
•

Familiarity: Being too close to the problem can make you forget to
remember what i...
Some Enemies that lurk in Complexity
•

Familiarity: Being too close to the problem can make you forget to
remember what i...
Some Enemies that lurk in Complexity
•

Familiarity: Being too close to the problem can make you forget to
remember what i...
Some Enemies that lurk in Complexity
•

Familiarity: Being too close to the problem can make you forget to
remember what i...
Some Enemies that lurk in Complexity
•

Familiarity: Being too close to the problem can make you forget to
remember what i...
Some Enemies that lurk in Complexity
•

Familiarity: Being too close to the problem can make you forget to
remember what i...
Information
architecture is for
making Sense of
complexity

16
Critical
Components
Of IA*
Ontology:
Do you know what you
mean when you say
what you say?

Ontology

Taxonomy
Choreography...
Ontology

This is a fish.
18
Ontology = Meaning

19
Meaning is subjective
Meaning is demographic
Meaning is socio political
Meaning gets lost in translation
Meaning is comple...
Lexicography vs Ontology
• Lexicography is the practice of compiling
dictionaries. Lexicographers collect different
meanin...
Taxonomy = Structure

22
There are only 5 ways to
organize anything
1.

Location: Rome is a city in Italy

2.

Alphabetical: Rome starts with “R”

...
24
Organizing
information is not
the hard part
building true consensus on the
meaning and intent of
information is the hard(e...
20 ways to organize a box of vegetables
1.! By cost at the grocery in the USA (Location)
2.! By cost at the grocery in the...
Taxonomy is Rhetoric
The way you choose to organize
your vegetables says something
about what kind of store you are

27
“It takes knowledge to know that a
tomato is a fruit, and wisdom not
to put it in a fruit salad.”
– Miles Kington

28
Mental
Models
Matter
A mental model is an explanation for
the way someone makes sense of
something.
These models of percep...
What facets do you have?
•

A facet is a particular aspect or feature of something. The number of
facets something has the...
Will you use Ambiguous vs.
Exact Classifications?

31
The more Ambiguous classifications,
the less effective the taxonomy

Clarity of Taxonomy
Level of Ambiguity in Classificat...
Are you designing for homogenous information
or heterogenous information?

33
34
How much information is appropriate and at
what rate of discovery?

35
Taxonomic Considerations
• How much are you organizing?
• How much choice can the user handle at each point in
the process...
Choreography = Intent
• Context: the
circumstances that form
the setting for an
interaction
• Channel: A medium for
commun...
How you choreograph Your
service says something
about who you are
38
Home

Create Post
Direct

Home
Home
Home
Posts

Home
Home
Home
User Profile

Your Profile

Direction
(Default/ Front
Facing)...
Lesson 1:

When unraveling
complexity, Start with
language not
interfaces

40
41
Controlled Vocabularies
•

A controlled vocabulary is a list of approved terms and definitions for
a particular context and...
h,p://6thfloor.blogs.ny;mes.com/2011/05/20/words-­‐we-­‐dont-­‐say/
43
Alien Dictionary

44
Synonym Rings

tranche de
Pizza

fetta di
Pizza

Pied de
Pizza

Slice of
Pizza

Piece of
Pizza

Pizza
Pie

Piede di
Pizza
...
Lesson 2:

Diagram the
damn thing

46
diagrams and maps

Can be “invented” for
a certain context
... but here are a bunch that I
keep going back to

47
Funnel

48
49
Quadrants
Urgent

1

NA

2

Important

Not Important

3

Not Urgent

50
51
Gantt
7:00 PM

7:05 PM

7:10 PM

7:15 PM

7:20 PM

7:25 PM

7:30 PM

Hungry
Starving
Full
Commute Home
At Home
Call For
Pi...
53
54
Flow Diagram

Yes!

Arrive
Home
After
Work

Call Pizza
place

Order Pizza

Delivery &
Payment

Wait

Eat

Yes!

Hungry?

N...
Venn Diagram

Movie

Friday
Night at
Home

Pizza

56
Tree
Meat

Veggie

Toppings

Meat

Plain

Plain

Chicago Style

Veggie

Toppings

NYC Style

Pizza

57
Swim lane
Pizza Eater

Customer Service

Driver

Read
Order

Hungry

Cook

Take
Pizza

Call
Pizza
place

Answer

Make
Pizz...
Block
Pizza
Crust
Thin
"NYC"

Thick
"Chicago"

Toppings

Service
Delivery

To Go

To Stay

59
schematic

Crust
Tomato
Sauce &
cheese

Slice
Pie

Toppings

60
EXPLODED schematic
Toppings

cheese

Tomato
Sauce
Crust

Pizza
61
62
Journey Map
Unlock
Door

Get
Pizza

Outside
Walk
to Door

Get out
of Work

Car
Drive

Order
Pizza

Park
In Drive

Home
Get...
Hierarchical Map
Abby's
Pizza

Customer
Service

Sales
manager

Cooks
Cooks
Driver

Kitchen

Chef

Cooks
Cooks
Cook

Opera...
Association Map
About

Menu

Order

Website

Delivery

Radio

Abby's
Pizza

Ads

Paper

Store

Board

Take
Out

Dine In

F...
PLAN THE BUSINESS

ASSORT THE PLAN

SELL-IN THE PLAN

EXECUTE THE ASSORTMENT

BRING ASSTMT TO LIFE

GTM
CSI/
Showroom

KAP...
Lesson 3:

Information
architecture is not
just for Information
Architects

68
INSERT CASE STUDIES HERE
69
If you believe in IA
• Call it out by name without changing your job title
• Join the cause and support the IA Institute
•...
Thanks
Abbycovert@gmail.com
@ Abby_The_IA
www.Abbytheia.com
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Toppings

Service
Delivery

To Go

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