in Web Navigation

IA as Conversation

In the past I’ve wondered about how taxonomies become navigation and did the taxonomy dance to match the bottom-up to the top-down, and now I wonder if this whole way of thinking about information architecture is flawed. Maybe the bottom-up of organizing information can never match the top-down of the user’s goals because we’re thinking about it wrong. Here’s my line of reasoning:

  • Design is about people. Design is done by people to benefit people.
  • Content is just the outward expression of the designer.
  • The reader is ultimately interacting with the designer. This interaction happens via the content. With all the technology and information before us, it’s easy to forget this interaction is about people talking to each other.
  • Information architecture could be thought of as facilitating conversation among people.
  • IA could benefit from techniques that help people interact well.
    • In a conversation, one can merely hear the other party, the two parties can each talk about themselves, or each can listen with empathy, ask questions, and build on each other’s comments.

How might this translate to designing information architecture? The design of social software comes immediately to mind. But I think this can have implications for good old navigation too.