SIGIA-L Mail Archives: Re: [Sigia-l] Rant about bad IA practice.
Re: [Sigia-l] Rant about bad IA practice.
Well, I've had a good number of emails saying that I shouldn't be so
hard on someone just because he's ranting, so I guess by that logic I
can rant too. Which I will, because there is something that certainly
Why the hell do people feel the need to diss best practice? I mean,
seriously; the only notion of best practice being a bad thing is the
cluelessness factor in which it is used, not what fits within that
rather virtual category itself. (Have anyone read the latest issue of
'IA Best Practice Digest'? Anyone?) You know, some of us do what you
slap in that "evil" category of things, and they can work absolutely
fantastic! Imagine that! Imagine anything within that vile category to
have any value at all!
The problem here comes when people _without_ a clue are looking for
how to _get a clue_, they get to "best practices" which is regarded as
"what not to do" by some people (with loud voices!), and hence miss
out on some stuff that actually just might be the perfect thing for
I'm so sick of this best-practice hate! Some of the stuff in "best
practice" happens to be in that (rather vague and virtual) category
because they produce results, because they work. What we *don't* want
is people to do these things without understanding what they are and
how to do it. Let's pick one of my favourites, Card Sorting ;
Stewart thinks it is worthless, and plonks it in the "best practice"
group along with other things he doesn't like. Is this based on "card
sorting is when you slap some labels on some cards and ask people to
sort them", or genuine understanding of what Card Sorting is? I
suspect the former. I happen to use Card Sorting a *lot* for a lot of
different things, doing them in a variety of ways. I use them to guide
a steering commitee in the right direction through UCD. I use them to
design navigation and direction of websites, intranets and
applications. I use them to create consensus for semantic schemas
across working groups. I use them for semi-automatic validation of
millions of subject headings. I use them together with profiles to
make business owners aware of blind spots in their plans. I use them
as brainstorming tools in metings. I use them to create
cross-divisional understanding of priorities. And many more; I adapt
the basics of the method to suit what I need, because I happen to
understand (most humbly :) what it is all about.
"Best practice" bashers hate the term because a lot of people without
a clue mistake it for something they will do often without
understanding why and how, and that's fine and dandy; criticise
cluelessness all you want. But what's not so dandy is that when people
hear of "best practice" bashing, they might stay clear of stuff that
could be important to them, scare them off (or certainly send them off
on a wild goose chase), make them miss the good bits! I friggin' hate
that! I spend a lot of time nudging people here and there, and every
so often I have to deal with the whole "Jakob Nielsen made me do it"
nonsense as well as the "everything Jakob Nielsen says is crap"
bollocks. Every so often I have to deal with "best practice is when
you don't have a clue!" bullshit as well, such as now, and it truly
irks me; the people who don't have a clue are the ones who put things
*in* the "best practice" box. Stop it!
Clues, people. Get a clue about everything you do, both within and
outside the box of "best practice." And the first big clue would be to
stop categorising stuff into the "best practice" box to begin with.
"Ultimately, all things are known because you want to believe you know."
- Frank Herbert
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: Tue Oct 31 2006 - 05:16:56 EST