UIEtips: Classification Schemes — and When to Use Them

Jared Spool

September 7th, 2010

I often start a phone conversation with “Hi, this is Jared.” However, I never start an in-person conversation that way. It would just be weird to walk up to someone, look into their eyes, shake their hands, and say, “Hi, this is Jared.” More likely, I’d say “I’m Jared” or even just “Jared” with a smile. Neither of those would work on the phone, where “Hi, this is Jared” feels right. It’s the same information, just presented different ways.

How we present our information is critical, yet it’s something we haven’t discussed as frequently as we should. Often we’re trying to fit our information into formats that don’t work effectively. All too often we let the underlying technology, such as our content management system, dictate how we present our information to the user. Yet we have control over these things and we should use it.

In this week’s UIEtips, we’ve turned to our favorite information architect, Donna Spencer. She’s written a great article on the different schemes for presenting information, such as when it’s instructional, geographical, or time-based. You’re sure to find great inspiration in her classifications—an idea so perfect I’m envious I didn’t come up with it first.

Read the article Classification Schemes—and When to Use Them

If you find Donna’s article as interesting as I did, then you’ll want to join me for her UIE Virtual Seminar on 9/16. She’ll dive deep into this topic, showing exactly how to create the most effective pages based on the underlying nature of the information. This seminar will likely be one of the best of the year, so don’t miss it. Get more information on Donna’s webinar, Organization Schemes.

Have you come up with your classifications for your pages? What’s worked? What challenges have you encountered? We’d love to hear your thoughts below.

One Response to “UIEtips: Classification Schemes — and When to Use Them”

  1. Erin Young Says:

    Donna (& Jared) – I am glad to hear your intuition about format-based classification schemes — I also suspect that most users are first concerned with their task or topic and that format is a secondary consideration. I’d love to see or hear any data that confirms this intuition.

    I’d also love to see a stab at guidelines on when a mixture of classification types should be used at the same level. I’ve forward this event along to some partners that are currently developing a taxonomy.

    I appreciate both of your work. Thanks guys!

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