IA - you might not know as much as you think you do


I’ve just enjoyed reading this article titled What you know about Information Architecture, might not be true.

I especially love this quote, which rings true. We do tend to hold on to old adages without reexamining them with any frequency.

[SIZE=15px]The problem with common knowledge is that it gets corrupted overtime. Misinformation creeps in and certain myths grow up. We see this all the time, such as the idea content needs to be above the fold because [/SIZE]users don’t scroll[SIZE=15px].[/SIZE]


I’m going to say something here that I’d never comment on that post, because well, you know me here.

I found this article insanely shallow and really, really old knowledge. I hardly ever hear these myths even suggested any more - even clients are mostly beyond ‘3 clicks’. I was just ‘duh’…


That’s true, and Paul Boag is capable of much more insightful commentary, but I suspect he was writing for an audience who is new to IA/UX/IxD. I haven’t heard many of my peers perpetuating those myths for the last few years either, but I still do come across the occasional client who suggests that ‘users don’t scroll’ or that ‘3 clicks or less is what we should aim for’. I would hope UX beginners these days aren’t reading the same websites or design books those clients are/were, but how are they to know?

I’ll put my hand up as once propagating those ideas. Looking back at those rules now I can laugh at myself for taking them seriously, but I was sincere at the time. Perhaps it was a desire to try and see patterns in user behaviour, to establish some formal guidelines, and perhaps there was some relevance in the myths once upon a time when web design was sometimes little more than plonking a few thousand words of content into a design and before touch screens were a thing.

But I appreciate how far we’ve come from relying on conventions and ‘common knowledge’ and instead following a more robust design process that doesn’t make those assumptions - one that instead relies on balancing user feedback with the business intent.

Not to say we’ve got it all right yet either. I’ll have more of a think about that, and in the meantime will “be careful what theories and rules we believe. Instead we need to research the hearsay and prove it for ourself.”


I do too - In my experience it’s usually a senior exec or a high ranking stakeholder that just doesn’t have that understanding.