Industry Insights—

Unraveling Complexities: Insights from "How to Make Sense of Any Mess"

Reading Time:
August 7, 2023 8:05 PM
Special guest written by
Jon Rodz

Information architecture is an essential discipline for designing meaningful experiences and structures in the digital realm. As a student of SCAD UXDG Info Arch, we have been tasked with reading Abby Covert's "How to Make Sense of Any Mess." 

Information Architecture is all around: The book describes a "mess" as a situation where something is confusing or difficult to understand. Throughout the course, we have learned that recognizing the mess is crucial in information architecture. The author’s approach aligns with the course's emphasis on understanding the problem before attempting to solve it. For example, creating an e-commerce website with unclear navigation would lead to a "mess" that hinders user experience and conversions.

Intent is language: Covert highlights the importance of language in information architecture, asserting that we must be intentional with our word choices to create clarity. This idea connects with the course content on developing a shared vocabulary for a project. For example, when creating a website for a medical institution, using consistent terminology like "patient" or "client" can prevent confusion and reinforce the institution's brand identity.

Creating Structure: The book outlines the significance of creating structures that help users make sense of the content they are presented with. This correlates with the course's focus on organizing and categorizing information. One example is using card sorting to determine the most logical structure for a website. By involving users in the decision-making process, we can create a more intuitive website.

Start With Why: Covert emphasizes the necessity of focusing on users' needs and perspectives when making sense of a mess. We have learned to prioritize user experience and usability. For instance, when designing a website, what mental models exist?

How Varies: A Key takeaway from the book is the importance of an iterative approach to anything, one that I feel like has been the thing I learned the most. By user testing we can make a better site and one that makes more sense to the people using it. 

This aligns with the course's approach to iterative design, where we learned the value of refining our solutions through multiple iterations. For example, creating a prototype of a mobile app and conducting usability tests would help identify areas for improvement before launching the final product.

"How to Make Sense of Any Mess" offers valuable insights into the world of information architecture, with many lessons aligning with the content learned in SCAD's Information Architecture course. Overall,  we can develop solutions for very complex problems. Through the use of the concepts from the book, I am way more prepared to create a better user experience.

Jon Rodz
As a young professional designer, Jon Rodz studies UX design at SCAD. He works on products and services thoughtfully across industries. In an industry where Latinos are underrepresented, Jon believes he will make a difference in driving design innovation and systems inclusive of his culture.

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