Dialogue: Make Me Think About Organizing
Student A: Hey, can we discuss LATCH? I’m having a few issues with it.
Student B: Sure, what kind of issues are you having?
Student A: My biggest problem with LATCH it the ambiguity. There are so many different types of organizing, and new schemes are being thought up everyday and I just don’t think they can easily fit into the five categories set up by LATCH. Yes, some of the types of design fit into these categories easily, take the College Board website’s organization of colleges, for instance. It fits in perfectly with the Hierarchy type of organization. You select the parameters you are looking for: majors offered, location, size, selectivity, etc. and College Board’s tool will rank the schools fitting closest to your criteria. It’s actually a really cool tool and it is very helpful. But I digress.
My point being, there are other sites, such as the North Hennepin Community College website, that is harder to categorize.
Student B: I think I understand what you are trying to say. And most of the ambiguity that you are running into is because these designers aren’t just sticking to one type of organization while they are building their sites.
Student A: And that makes sense, because in order to build a successful site you need to listen to the needs of the consumer, and doing a hybrid of styles is sometime necessary to facilitate ease of access.
Student B: Agreed. And being able to recognize the need for different styles is also important. If a company just sticks with what it knows it can become outdated and easily replaced by competition that more willing the change with the needs of the consumer.
Student A: I was looking up more information and one site said, “Mixing schemes by creating hybrids can cause confusion for users. [Hybrid schemes are] often proposed as a solution when project teams cannot agree on a single scheme to categorize the content” (usability.gov, para. 12). And this is where I’m running into my issues, as well.
Student B: I understand that. And sometime the mixing of organizational schemes doesn’t work out for the best, but sometimes it works out perfectly. Take the Foursquare phone application: it allows the user to check into a location and find places of interest near them. This works on both the Location scheme and the Hierarchy scheme, because the suggestions are based on the organization of price, interest, and ratings among consumers. This hybrid scheme works very well, and the app is still very popular, especially if you are new to an area.
Student A: I agreed, and Foursquare has helped me discover many new places that I would not have thought to go otherwise. And that is a great example of a hybrid that works, but what a about one that doesn’t work so well?
Student B: I honestly don’t see a problem with most hybrids. Hybrids allow for flexibility and though they have ambiguity to them, and take more time to categorize in the LATCH system, they also are created with the consumer/user in mind. It’s for their ease of use, not really for the ease of students like us who are trying to categorize them.
Student A: Okay, but what about the LATCH Category?
Student B: What about it?
Student A: Well, like the professor said, it works like a junk drawer. everything that doesn’t fit nicely into the other four schemes gets filed under “Category.” I’m just not sure how I feel about that.
Student B: What do you mean? Category works well on its own. Sites like Pet Finder utilize it well in finding type of pets, narrowing it from the most basic of dog versus cat, to the specific breeds of animals that are available.
Student A: That is true, and in that sense it works well, but like when we were discussing the organization of college websites in class. if something doesn’t fit into one of the other four schemes of Location, Alphabetical, Time, or Hierarchy, then it is just shoved into the scheme of Category. This goes back to ambiguity again. I think the parameters need to be clearer in order for me to fully understand and get the best use out of this system.
Student B: I found the HVCC site quite helpful in defining the types of schemes and structures and what is good about ambiguity and non-ambiguity. Have you looked at it?
Student A: I have, but it still doesn’t solve my issue with it. There is a Youtube video that helped lay out the basics pretty well for me.
Student B: I’ll have to take a look at it. And I can see where you are coming from in your confusion. Especially when these are laid out, they are meant to be as non-ambiguous as possible.
Student A: Good, at least I’m not alone in my frustration.
Student B: No, not at all, but I see so many benefits to the LATCH system and, in my opinion, those benefits outweigh the negatives of ambiguity.
Student A: How so?
Student B: Well, LATCH is not a system designed for consumers, it is really something that was created to help with marketing. It works in ways beyond just web design, and it can be seen in places you probably didn’t realize.
Student A: Like where?
Student B: Well, like a good Minnesotan, I will use Target as an example. The store itself is organized into Categories: Clothing, Electronics, Home, Entertainment, Toys, Grocery. Those categories are them divided into subcategories. Clothing, for instance, is cut into Girls, Boys, Men, Women.
Student A: I never thought of it like that before.
Student B: It goes even further, and the subcategories are divided into sections based on Hierarchy: the most expensive and newest items are closest to the aisles, where as the older, clearance items are found furthest away from the aisle.
Student A: Wow, that is totally true. I guess I never realized how deeply ingrained LATCH is in our marketing system. It makes total sense now that you put it that way.
Student B: Now if you look at that model, or a Target store layout and you transpose it onto the Target website, you can see those same techniques in play in the web design. Categories, subcategories, and Hierarchical design. You can even just stick with category and look at say, all the bedding Target has available in the color blue. And actually, more retail websites work in much the same way.
Student A: Yes! Even Amazon does this!
Student B: I find it helpful to imagine the scheme as a layout of a store, or if it’s information you looking at, perhaps the table of contents in a book. It makes perfect sense when I think of it laid out in the fashion.
Student A: Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind. I do think that we need to revisit this idea of ambiguity, though.
Student B: Why? I thought we had that covered? You’re just confused about the vagueness of the categorization and how much worse hybridization make it.
Student A: I’m not confused about vagueness at all. That has nothing to do with it. I’m confused about the ambiguity.
Student B: I don’t see a difference.
Student A: They are two different words. Ambiguity means that the meaning and intention are unclear, while being vague means that the nature of the thing in question is unclear. So, they are two different words.
Student B: I still think that they are synonyms for each other. I mean what’s the difference between meaning and nature?
Student A: Meaning and intention deal with how something works, and nature is the very idea of something. The nature of Category is very specific, but the way in which it is inputted in organizational schemes is what is the issue is.
Student B: I still don’t see a difference. The way that Category is implemented versus the way it is created? That’s your issue? It’s a silly point. They are basically the same idea?
Student A: No, they really aren’t. Love is a vague concept. Its meaning varies from person to person and relationship to relationship. You and you parents have familial love, while you are your partner have sexual love. They are still called love, but their very nature is different. And then there is something like freedom of speech. The nature of freedom of speech is very clear, you can say what you want, you can insult the government and not face legal repercussions from that. You cannot get arrested for insulting our government. That is the nature of freedom of speech, however the way that people in the United States use it differs from its nature. People use it as a reason to not get repercussions in their careers and socially. So when like the Duck Dynasty guy said that stuff about his opinion on gay people and the network temporarily kicked him off the show, people were crying freedom of speech. But it doesn’t work that way, in American society a company has every right to terminate an employee for saying something that could damage the image of the company and cause it to lose profits. But people use it in a way that makes them think they are impervious to any repercussion.
Student B: Oh! I get it now. So, you’re saying the the definition of category as an organizational scheme isn’t the problem, because it’s a solid way of organizing, the problem is how some people just get a little lazy with how they are using it.
Student A: I wouldn’t use lazy. I think that this junk drawer approach is the problem. Category has it’s own function as a organizational scheme and to lump all these other things in there, just because they don’t necessarily fit in the other four types, makes category into something different than it is meant to be. That is what I have an issue with.
Student B: Okay, I see what you are saying, but I also think that this isn’t an issue that can be solved. I think the important thing here is that you understand the problem and why it is the way it is. I don’t think there is anywhere we can go from here.
Student A: Yeah. I suppose you’re right. Thank you, though. I appreciate the talk, it helped me to clear my thoughts on the subject.
Student B: Me too. See you tomorrow.