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The Information Architecture of Everyday Things Jesse James Garrett. Credit where due. Required reading, even though it has nothing to do with this talk. Kirk’s question. “How can I develop my skills when I don’t have a project to work on?” I didn’t have an answer then.

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slide1

The Information Architecture

of Everyday Things

Jesse James Garrett

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

credit where due
Credit where due

Required reading, even though it has nothing to do with this talk

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

kirk s question
Kirk’s question

“How can I develop my skills when I don’t have a project to work on?”

I didn’t have an answer then.

This talk represents a first step toward one.

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

a quote
A quote

“The world can be seen as only connections, nothing else… A piece of information is really only defined by what it’s related to, and how it’s related. There really is little else to meaning.

The structure is everything.”

— Tim Berners-Lee

Weaving the Web

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

the secret history of information architecture
The secret history of information architecture

Information architecture is as old as human communication

Where there’s information, there’s architecture

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

spot the ia
Spot the IA

Information Architecture

Waldo

Where’s the information architecture in this picture?

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

reverse engineering
Reverse-engineering
  • Common practice in the technical world:
    • Take things apart
    • Put them back together
    • See what makes them work

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

in the beginning
In the beginning…

…was the datum.

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

and then there were two
And then there were two

Now known as data.

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

possibilities emerge
Possibilities emerge

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

added information added complexity
Added information, added complexity

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

humans are pattern makers
Humans are pattern-makers

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

yet another definition
Yet another definition
  • Information architecture is
    • the juxtaposition of individual pieces of information
    • in order to convey meaning.

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

harper s index
Harper’s Index

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

harper s index examples
Harper’s Index Examples

Number of years since 1776 in which no nation was at war : 0

Age, in months, at which an infant can distinguish between a bird and an airplane : 9

Estimated number of times an adult must taste a disliked food before learning to like it : 10

Prison sentence, in years, received in June by an Oregon activist for setting fire to a car dealership : 23

Percentage of U.S. college students who say they intend to pursue a foreign language : 57

Chances that a U.S. soldier in the Vietnam War volunteered : 4 in 5

Number of cars destroyed in the fire : 3

Percentage who are actually enrolled in a foreign-language course : 8

Chance that a U.S. soldier in World War II did so : 1 in 3

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

harper s index16
Harper’s Index

Percentage of U.S. college students who say they intend to pursue a foreign language : 57

Percentage of U.S. college students who are enrolled in a foreign-language course : 8

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

juxtaposition
Juxtaposition

Placing pieces of information near each other implies a relationship

If no relationship is explicitly stated, the user will infer one

Inference relies upon familiarity

Overrated Composers

Great Composers

Svetlana Petrova

Kevin Spencer

Jacqueline McKenzie

Wilhelm Bruner

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

George Gershwin

Ludwig van Beethoven

Paul McCartney

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

implicit architecture
Implicit architecture

Architecture that is inferred or deduced by the user

Most common form of architecture

Not necessarily intentional

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

explicit architecture
Explicit architecture

home

solutions

resources

channels

Architecture that is made apparent to the user

Very common for information retrieval tasks

Labels can serve to make architecture explicit

But explicitness doesn’t ensure clarity

Example:

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

restaurant menu
Restaurant menu

special combo

logo

everything else

cheesesteaks

sides

drinks

cheesesteak

toppings

cheesesteak sauces

kids menu

chips

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

random access
Random access
  • Every user can jump in at any point in the information space
  • Examples:
    • Reference materials
    • Magazines
    • DVDs

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

linear access
Linear access
  • Every user follows the same path through the information space
  • Examples:
    • Most traditional narrative forms (movies, novels, plays)
    • Magazine articles
    • Tutorial or instructional materials

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

nonlinear access
Nonlinear access
  • Each user may follow a different path through the information space
  • Not necessarily hierarchical
  • Examples:
    • Web sites
    • Interactive fiction

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

all things considered
All Things Considered

Two-hour program

Precision timing required

“The roadmap”

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

all things considered25
All Things Considered

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

all things considered26
All Things Considered

news

news perspective

features

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

all things considered27
All Things Considered

news

news perspective

features

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

lands end catalog
Lands’ End Catalog

64 pages

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

lands end catalog29
Lands’ End Catalog

women

women

An implicit architecture

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jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

lands end catalog30
Lands’ End Catalog

spring casual

spring casual

An alternate view

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dressy

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summer casual

special purpose

shoes

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jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

lands end catalog31
Lands’ End Catalog

page 15

page 51

Repetition

page 4

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

lands end catalog32
Lands’ End Catalog

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jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

lands end catalog33
Lands’ End Catalog

Reference and redirection

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

lands end catalog34
Lands’ End Catalog

Reference and redirection

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jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

ideal sources
Ideal sources
  • The most interesting architectures spring from problems of diversity:
    • Diversity of information
    • Diversity of audience
    • Diversity of modes of access
    • Diversity of use
  • But don’t overlook simple problems that have simple solutions

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

questions to ask
Questions to ask

What problem did they set out to solve?

What constraints were they facing?

What could they have done differently?

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

translating ideas to the web
Translating ideas to the Web

Extrapolate general principles

Look for patterns that work independent of subject matter

Keep user behavior in mind

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

pitfalls to avoid
Pitfalls to avoid

Medium-specific constraints

Conventions aren’t necessarily best practices

The letter of the law vs. the spirit of the law

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

other examples
Other examples

Phone bill

In-flight magazine

Junk mail

Consumer product instructions

Television news programs

“Citizen Kane”

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

book recommendations from the audience
Book recommendations from the audience

Film Form by Sergei Eisenstein

Understanding Comics and Reinventing Comics by Scott McCloud

Sources of Power by Gary Klein

Visual Thinking by Rudolf Arnheim

The Language of Vision by Gyorgy Kepes

Information Design: The Knowledge Architect’s Toolkit by Graziella Tonfoni

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/

thanks
Thanks!

Jesse James Garrett

jjg@adaptivepath.com

http://www.jjg.net/ia/

jjg@adaptivepath.com · The IA of Everyday Things · http://www.jjg.net/ia/