SIGIA-L Mail Archives: Re: SIGIA-L: Throwing mud: cartographic
Re: SIGIA-L: Throwing mud: cartographic representation of site structure
From: Peter Merholz (peterme_at_peterme.com)
Date: Wed Aug 22 2001 - 15:16:05 EDT
> Just like the department store customers at the mall, they are not
> interested in the structure, architecture or bird's eye view of your site.
> (That's your domain as the IA/designer.) They are interested in getting
> at the goods. They shouldn't have to refer to a site map, manual, help,
> user guide or other devices of abstraction just to navigate the site.
I find this fascinating, as your main "real-world" example here is one of
the classic cases of needing a map (or, at least, a directory).
Entering a department store, how on earth am I supposed to know where "Men's
Casual" is? Simply by looking around? By intuiting the layout of the store
because it's intelligently designed? What if Men's Casual isn't on the floor
I enter on? Is it the fault of the store for not having everything within
line of sight?
No. And directories and store maps help in such cases.
Your contention about how users "should" not have to refer to site maps,
help, etc. smacks of such massive naivete and ignorance that I don't know
where to begin. The second "should" comes into the conversation, it's
meaningless. We "should" not have wars and poverty and all manner of things.
But we do. So we need to address reality. Frankly, my clients pay me money
to address reality.
And one of those realities is massively complex involved fouled-up websites
reflecting organizational structures. I don't think it's IBM's fault that
IBM.com is extremely complex--it's the nature of their (*very very very*)
successful business. Tools like site maps (which, in their case, should
probably resemble something more like a table of contents) can be quite
helpful. In facing reality, we often find we need to create interfaces or
intermediary spaces between the business and the customer. It's not ideal,
but, well, it's there, and I have to deal with it.
And it's foolish to suggest a business is somehow flawed if their website
requires navigational aids to understand it. I'm sure all those companies in
the Fortune 50 are really distressing over how their sites' information
architecture is directly tied to their business success.
Frankly, I can't believe we're having this discussion.
A site map I think works well:
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: Sun Nov 23 2003 - 22:54:47 EST