Notes About Organizing


Organizing your Information, Web Style Guide
Latch: The Five Ultimate Hatracks

1. Location:
Natural form to choose when you are trying to examine and compare information that comes from diverse sources or locales.
Example: Doctors use the different locations in the body as groupings to study medicine.

2. Alphabet:
This method lends itself to organizing extraordinarily large bodies of information. The twenty-six letters of the alphabet works when the audience or readership encompasses a brad spectrum of society that might not understand classification by another form such as category or location.
Example: Words in a dictionary or names in a telephone directory.

3. Time:
Time works best as an organizing principle for events that happen over fixed durations, such as conventions. Time is an easily understandable framework from which changes can be observed and comparisons made.
Example: To organize a place, exhibitions, museums, histories, etc.

4. Category:
The organization of goods. Retail stores are usually organized in this way by different types of merchandise. Category can mean different models, different types, or even different questions to be answered.
Examples: Kitchenware in one department, clothing in another, etc.

5. Hierarchy:
Organizes items by magnitude. It is the mode to use when you want to assign value or weight to the information, or when you want to use it to study something like an industry or company.
Example: Small to large, least expensive to most expensive, order of importance, etc.

Five Hat Racks from Ashley Towers

Developed by Richard Saul Wurman in his book Information Anxiety.

Don't be afraid to use more than one at a time -- you could have items sorted by category then within each category you could sort alphabetically. Remember that you are trying to present the information in a way that is accessible to the user.

1. Location:
Physical location, geographically or a location in space.
Use: When giving directions and whenever relative position is important (landmarks on a map).

2. Alphabet:
Ordering alphabetically.
Use: Whenever efficient random access is needed, or as a back up when no other sorting strategy makes sense.

3. Time:
Chronological order, timelines of historical events, etc.
Use: Whenever a time based order of events is needed. Cooking instructions, comparing events over a period of time, or when things happen at set times.

4. Category:
Grouping by a shared similarity. Fiction, non-fiction, etc.
Use: When people will naturally look for something by category. Blender=kitchen appliances.
But: Not everyone will group things the same and categories can bread down when there are large numbers of items within each category (sub-categories, sub-sub, etc.).

5. Continuum:
Grouping by a magnitude, best to worst, lowest to highest, etc.
Use: When a shared measurement to compare things is available (star ratings on products, etc.)


Five Hat Racks


1. Location

Example: Google Maps
Notes: Pin points a specific geographic location. In the upper lefthand corner of the page you can type the location you would like to view a map for. When typing in "Bemidji" as the location, the following appears; Google Maps: Bemidji
If you click on "Directions", you can choose a starting point, as the ending point is already set on Bemidji. The site will then generate directions, with a physical map set off to the side. Both the directions and physical map are generated by the Location method.

Map and directions from International Falls, MN to Bemidji MN

More: National Historic Sites and Landmarks
Large map format.

2. Alphabet

Example: Web MD
Notes: Located under "Health A-Z" on the menu at the top of the homepage for Web MD is a list of common topics in relation to health and health issues. Listed to the left is also clickable tabs including: Community A-Z, Drugs A-Z, First Aid A-Z, Health Games A-Z, Living Healthy, Medical Tests & Tools A-Z, and Slideshows, Quizzes, & Assessments A-Z. Like the tabs to the left, the A-Z falls in a list, beginning with A and moving horizontally to Z.

More: BSU Faculty and Staff Directory
Can also search by Students or Offices. The Faculty and Staff directory is sorted by last name, beginning with A and ending with Z.

3. Time

Example: Food Nework
Notes: Beginning on the homepage, clicking on the menu tab "Recipes" will bring you to a page displayed with clickable videos and instructions on how to prepare a certain meal or side. Clicking on one of the photos (Glazed Snow Peas) will lead you to a page with reviews and a large photo. Clicking on the red "Glazed Snow Peas" link next to Get the Recipe will open a new tab and provide you with prep time, yield, cooking level and directions. The directions follow a time-based order -- do this, then this, add this, do this for this long, now this long, done.

Snow Peas Recipe

More specifically: Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 8 ounces snow peas, 1 bunch chopped scallions, a pinch of sugar and 1/4 cup water. Cover and simmer 2 minutes, then uncover and boil under the water evaporates, 2 more minutes. Season with salt.

Does it have the same or similar effect when the directions are listed horizontally, in paragraph-form as opposed to vertically, in list form?

More: Timeline of event
Can be both horizontal or vertical.

4. Category

Example: Barnes and Noble
Notes: From the homepage, next to the Barnes&Noble logo is a dropdown menu. Click on books, the first option, opens up another menu in order to decipher between categories and sub-categories of books based on personal interest. Categories include: B&N Stores' Bestsellers, B&N Top 100, Coming Soon, New Releases, NY Times Best sellers, etc. The categories are also separated into Customer Favorites, Special Values, and Special Collections. Customers can also refine by Subjects including: Art, Architecture & Photography, Bibles & Christianity, Biography, Business, etc., or Prices: Under $5, $5 - $10, etc., Format: Paperback, Hardcover, NOOK Book, Audiobook, and Ages: 0-2 Years, 3-5 Years, 6-8 Years, 9-12 Years, and Teens.

The content is arranged in a running list/navigation format. The category method is not only running vertically along the right side of the page but also horizontal on the top of the page where there are categories titled: Books, NOOK Books, nook, Textbooks, Bargain, Newsstand, Teens, Kids, Toys & Games, Hobbies & Collectibles, Home & Gifts, Movies & TV and Music.

Barnes & Noble Books

More: [[http://www.target.com/ Target]
Dropdown titled "Shop All Categories." Each main category is then separated into sub-categories. Some sub-categories have an extra category with deals. All listed in a dropdown menu on main page.

5. Continuum

Example: Forever 21
Notes: Starting on the homepage, and clicking in the middle of the page on "Jewelry." The method is set on the lefthand site under the vertical tab "Sort By". Here the dropdown menu gives you the option to view the items as Newest, Prices low to High, Price High to Low, Highest Rating, or Most Popular.

Highest Rating

More: Most Large Retail sites.

Thought Experiment


Time: Food Nework


New Organization Scheme: Include a menu dropdown with sub-categories in each main category, simplifying searches. An additional main tab titled "For the Kids" or "Little Chefs" or just "Kids" to go along with the one-word titles. Perhaps another tab titled "Learning" to expand the ideal user category.

If I was a beginning chef or cook with no experience, this site would overwhelm me. I wouldn't know where to begin and I don't think search bars should be a problem solver for that. It looks as if it is primarily for people who know how to cook, but I can't imagine the site wants to cater toward only experienced cooks.


Category: Barnes and Noble


New Organization Scheme: The dropdown moves to the lefhandside of the page and flows outward with sub-categories when you float over it. A new tab is added, "Deals" so that there doesn't need to be the small promotional items trapped in the middle of the page. A quiz is created to "find the right book for you" and is centered in the middle of the page. Below is B & N's top 5 books of the week, New Releases, or 5 books recommended to read right now, etc.


Continuum: Forever 21


New Organization Scheme: Larger tab headings and a dropdown menu. Perhaps on the lefthand side of the page. Change the visuals to include girls, women, boys/men, and plus size models so as to collectively display all the types Forever 21 caters toward. This is a new change as far as I am considered, so it should be showcased. Prove the versatility.


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