DonnaM » Blog Archive » Basic level categories, ‘and then’ IA

Basic level categories, ‘and then’ IA

So I found myself describing basic level categories for the second time in as many months to a bunch of IA related people and I think it might be worth thinking a little more seriously about. I have read a chunk of Lakoffs Women Fire & Dangerous Things, but haven’t gone back in the research, and haven’t really started to distil it into anything yet.

But something that I have noticed in working with large, primarily hierarchical sites is a very two-layered structure. Sometimes I call this ‘and then’ IA. What happens is, when people look for information they say ‘first I go here, then here’ ‘AND THEN’ I do blah. So, the first step (however many clicks it is) is the prelude to the place that they really want to be. The place that they want to be is where they do work/complete tasks/hang out (look, I’ve written about this before). For them it is the starting point for their goal, and the things that happen leading up to it are just irritants.

So the link between these random thoughts. I think that the place that they pause (where they say ‘and then’) may be part of the ‘basic level’ for that particular domain. It is the place where a group of stuff makes sense to people and belongs together. And more than one person finds it to be a natural place to start and to be, which is essential for it to be basic.

Anyway, I think I might take a thoughtwander* around this in a few weeks time, when I get some uni stuff out of the way and have a chance to read and reflect a bit more. Join me then…

* thoughtwander is Peter’s word, and I wish I had one as good, so I’ll borrow his for a short time

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