Notes About Organizing


Organizing Your Information

Five Steps:
  1. Content Inventory
  2. Hierarchical Outline
  3. Chunking
  4. Page Diagrams
  5. Test the System

Content Inventory: Hierarchies and Taxonomies:
Taxonomies and Controlled Vocabularies:
The most important thing is that the paradigm balances meeting the users' needs and delivering the site's message.

Card Sorting and Whiteboard Sessions:
Chunking Information:

The Five Hat Racks


Example: Dumb Laws

I've seen so many weird facts having to do with the contents of this site, but I'll be honest, I've never been to this site. This site provides information on the weirdest laws in the U.S. It is organized by location via a list at the top of the page. I, being in Minnesota, clicked on "Minnesota" to find out what laws apply to me here. Apparently, I may not legally walk across a Minnesota state border with a duck on top of my head. Users can do this for any state they choose. There is also an international option, which includes dumb laws from countries around the world. Location is the primary form of organization on this site; you first choose a location before seeing any dumb laws.


Example: Countries of the World

This site works for both alphabet and location. It organizes all of the countries in the world in alphabetical order. When you think of a country you want to learn more about, you click the letter it starts with to find the page more efficiently. You can scroll all the way down the list if you want, but clicking the letter it starts with will quickly narrow your search. Once the site brings you to your country, you can click on it and get a quick geography lesson.


Example: Election Results Map

This website works for time, location, and category by giving different drop down menu combination options. The user establishes the time they wish to research by choosing which election year they want to research (time). Or he or she can choose which state they want to know about in any given year (location). Furthermore, the site has an option for which type of election the user wants to find out about.


Example: Nike

If you go to just plain old, the first thing it has you do is tell them the reason for you being there, pertaining to what or who you're shopping for. The options are men, women, boys, girls, and customize. Those are the categories of the site. If you hover your mouse over one of the main categories, many subcategories appear to hone in the search to what you're there for. They chose the five main categories based on the four main sections of any shoe store (and added customization because it's common, but unique, to online shoe shopping).


Example: Amazon--Batting Gloves

Most of Amazon is organized by category, but once I narrowed my search to batting gloves, it became a continuum. You see this on just about any site trying to sell something: the ability to organize by price: low to high or high to low. This page adds a featured option, as well as the ones with the best reviews.

A Second Time Through

1. Category -- Nike

This site is structured for shoe shoppers. They make it pretty obvious with the giant picture of a shoe taking up the whole page. The categories are men, women, boys, girls, and customize, but it's pretty apparent that if you click on any of those categories, shoes are what is on the other side (even though Nike makes much more than just shoes). The structure of the site leaves is far from ideal for shoppers looking for sunglasses. If I wanted Nike sunglasses and just went to, I'd probably leave right away, thinking the site was just for shoes (okay, not quite. I know enough about websites to know I can get to the sunglasses, but it's a process to get there.)

If the site was structured according to type of apparel, it would appeal to a larger range of shoppers. This is the alternative structure I want to explore. It's still by category, but instead of organizing it by the type of person you're shopping for, it's by type of product (shoes, t-shirts, sweatshirts, sunglasses, etc.) If it was organized this way, the ideal shopper would be someone who doesn't know what they want -- a teenaged guy who just got his paycheck, for example. He just wants to buy something, but doesn't know what. So he goes to the site, and instead of just shoes to look at initially, he can explore many different possibilities of what to spend his money on. With this method of organization, people would stay on the site longer, because they would have a wider range of products to see right off the bat.

2. Alphabet -- Countries of the World

This site is for someone who wants to research information about a specific country -- one that they already have in mind. The method of using a list of countries in alphabetical order signifies that it's not targeting people who just want to stumble upon something interesting. It leaves out those people, as well as those who want to know where the countries are (it does give the region of each country, but that doesn't provide any visual of where the country actually is in the world).

This site could be structured using the location hat rack. It would start as a world map with clickable continents. When you click on a continent, it would zoom in and focus on just that continent, and countries' names would show up. This structure is tailored to users who want to learn about an area of the world, not a certain specific country that he or she already has in mind. Now, though, the missing content is the list of all the countries in the world in one place. For someone to find a specific country, they would have to know where it is. A search bar could fix that problem, ideally with predictive text, so the user doesn't need to know the exact spelling of the country he or she is looking for.

3. Location -- Dumb Laws

This site is for people with a specific sense of humor -- someone who would go looking for dumb laws because they found them funny. The site doesn't have any examples of the dumb laws on the main page. Rather, it organizes them by state. Also on the page are three categories of dumb laws: crime, warnings, and haunted houses. If you look further down, there are links to other "dumb" sites, as well as an email link to send in dumb laws people stumble upon. This site leaves out people who want to simply see the dumbest laws in the country.

To accompany the people who don't care where the laws are, but instead just their degree of dumbness, I would set it up similar to reddit. I would have a list of categories of dumb laws that people can click on. Once at a specific category, users would be able to up-vote or down-vote the laws in the list, so the laws that people think are the strangest would be towards the top of the list. I could still have the location of the law in the content, but it wouldn't be the primary focus. If structured this way, however, people searching for laws from their home state would be disappointed, unless they made it to the top of its category.
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