Make Me Think About Organizing Dialogue

From: John Smith <jsmith23@gmail.com>

Date: 04/22/2015 8:13 PM (GMT-05:00)

To: Beth Miller <bmiller@yahoo.com>

Subject: My Website

Dear Beth,

I started a new business recently, and I’m trying to put together a website for it. Problem is, I can’t decide which direction to take in terms of organization. I do have some ideas — I’ve used methods like chunking and card sorting to narrow down my choices, which are always boiler plate for this sort of thing if I remember correctly — but I figured an outside opinion might help me decide which way to go. You always had an answer for my questions back in the day!

Best,

John


From: Beth Miller <bmiller@yahoo.com>

Date: 04/22/2015 9:29 PM (GMT-05:00)

To: John Smith <jsmith23@gmail.com>

Subject: Re: My Website

Dear John,

You remember L.A.T.C.H., right? The Five Hat Racks? Category, time, location, alphabetic, and continuum? If you still have the textbook, check out “Information Anxiety” by Richard S. Wurman. Just in case you sold it, though, I’ll give you a refresher.

Location is organization based off to the physical location of whatever you’re focusing on. Alphabet is just what it sounds like: information set up A-Z or reverse. Category is organization by similar content. (This method might be a bit more complex in that it uses taxonomies, folksonomies, and controlled vocabularies.) Then there’s continuum — or hierarchy — which sets everything up by magnitude. Tiny to big, popular to least, etc. Then lastly we have time, which lists everything in chronological order.

What kind of business are you launching, exactly?

Sincerely,

Beth


From: John Smith <jsmith23@gmail.com>

Date: 04/23/2015 7:39 AM (GMT-05:00)

To: Beth Miller <bmiller@yahoo.com>

Subject: Re: Re: My Website

Dear Beth,

It’s a hardware store. We’re selling things like hammers, nails, rope, tarp, etc. Anything you could want for a project or repairs. Yes, I remember learning about L.A.T.C.H. in that class we had together. Since I have a complete inventory, alphabetic is the first organization scheme I thought of, but that might not be beneficial if the customer doesn’t know what they’re looking for. Also, it’s a bit boring! I’d like something with more variety and options.

Best,

John


From: Beth Miller <bmiller@yahoo.com>

Date: 04/23/2015 10:22 PM (GMT-05:00)

To: John Smith <jsmith23@gmail.com>

Subject: Re: Re: Re: My Website

Dear John,

What if you were to organize it by category, but not immediately by the supplies? What if you use the purposes as categories? For instance, if someone wants to build a treehouse. You create a “Treehouse” option and list everything they would need beneath that. Just to give you a visual, something like this:

Instead of every sort of laptop, they listed the purpose at the top to narrow down the choices. Make sense?

Sincerely,

Beth


From: John Smith <jsmith23@gmail.com>

Date: 04/24/2015 6:21 AM (GMT-05:00)

To: Beth Miller <bmiller@yahoo.com>

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: My Website

Dear Beth,

I do like that idea. However, I do want people to see more of my inventory than that scheme allows. Say I’m having a sale on hammers, but their project doesn’t require that tool?

I’ve been looking at other websites and just overwhelmed by the variety of options. Even if we limit ourselves to using one of the five hat racks, there are other issues, as we touched upon in that class. What if I wanted to use tags or maps? I recall our professor saying that organization influences and possibly determines what users want. I want something that will not only meet the needs they’re aware of, but something else that might catch their interest.

Sincerely,

John


From: Beth Miller <bmiller@yahoo.com>

Date: 04/24/2015 10:02 PM (GMT-05:00)

To: John Smith <jsmith23@gmail.com>

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My Website

Dear John,

Well, there are other ways to organize a website besides L.A.T.C.H. Remember exact organization schemes? Alphabetical, chronological, geographical? Which are pretty self-explanatory. Then there are the subjective schemes. Topic, task, audience, and metaphor. Again, pretty basic according to the name.

I feel these are really only advantageous, though, if L.A.T.C.H. doesn’t hold up. Mixing schemes and using multiple pathways like this — I learned in another class that it’s called a “hybrid” — can be confusing and challenging.

All my best,

Beth


From: John Smith <jsmith23@gmail.com>

Date: 04/25/2015 8:59 AM (GMT-05:00)

To: Beth Miller <bmiller@yahoo.com>

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My Website

Dear Beth,

There’s also the issue of price, interest, and ratings. My customers can have such a variety, because while I am a hardware store, their specialties could range from a repairman to an artist. I think I have no choice but to go with the hybrid, depsite the risk that some users might find it confusing. If I were to do a concept map or a tree diagram and also integrate additional tools, such as banners, tags, etc., I could still organize the site by project and advertise my other products.

What do you think?

John


From: Beth Miller <bmiller@yahoo.com>

Date: 04/25/2015 9:33 PM (GMT-05:00)

To: John Smith <jsmith23@gmail.com>

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My Website

Hi John,

Maybe you’re overthinking this. I keep remembering that quote by Spencer? He wrote that “there are no hard and fast rules. The main things, as I’ve said, are that it works well for your audience, they expect to access information in this way, and it works well for your content.” Anyway, if you have anymore questions or issues to bounce off me, I’m an e-mail away! Best of luck with your business and your website.

Sincerely,

Beth

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