Reference vs. Learning in a Bottom-up Information Architecture

Do reference and learning require different organization in a bottom-up information architecture? This is another in the series of posts addressing questions from my TC Dojo webinar on Bottom-up Information Architecture.

Q: Is there a difference in looking for a specific information fact (such as the depth of the manacougan crater) versus a search for understanding a larger information set, such as the development and formation of craters in general? Would the latter type of search merit a more hierarchical mini-TOC to navigate through the content? read more

The role of the TOC in a bottom-up information architecture

Is there still a place for a TOC in a bottom-up information architecture? Yes, but its role is different.

This is another in my series following up on the questions asked in my TC Dojo webinar on bottom-up information architecture.

Q: Is the TOC dead then? I’m used to structuring content based on an analysis of user tasks, presenting the product secondarily. That becomes the structure? Where do you put the topics?

A: In a very real sense, it is top-down architecture that has killed the TOC. Bottom-up architecture might actually save it, but in a different form and playing a different role. read more

Bottom-Up Architecture Q and A: Organizing the Site

Once the reader reaches an Every Page is Page One page, does it still matter if the site is well organized? It depends on what you mean by “organized”.

This is another in the series of post dealing with questions from my TC Dojo Webinar on bottom-up information architecture.

Q: I understand that the site is not online, but it is the pages…however, you still need to have a site, right? …once a user gets to a page, don’t you want them to be in an organized site?

A: Absolutely, we always want our content to be well organized. But electronic media, and the Web in particular, have profoundly changed what it means to be organized. read more

Bottom-Up Information Architecture Behind the Firewall

This is the second of the questions from my TC Dojo presentation on Information Architecture Bottom Up.

Q: What happens when the information is behind a wall, such as proprietary applications? How is a bottom-up approach better in that type of scenario?

A: The Web is the ultimate bottom-up information architecture. The Web is far far to big and too complex to ever be navigated top down. Yahoo’s top-down directory of the Web, created when the Web was still relatively small, was recently shuttered, after having been irrelevant for many years. read more

Bottom-Up Information Architecture Q and A – Part 1

I got a number of really good questions following my TC Dojo session on Bottom-up Information Architecture (below).

I want to address the questions in a little more depth than was possible in the webinar.

Q: I’ve attended multiple Every Page is Page One webinars. They get bogged down in theory but never explain what tasks working technical communicators should perform. “Books may be bad” but at least people know what steps to take to make one. What tasks and steps shall one perform to implement this wondrous new content architecture? read more

You can’t size topics for specific information needs

One of the biggest traps in topic-based writing it the attempt to size topics so that each one meets exactly one user information need. It is tempting to suppose that this is the point of topic-based authoring. If the book is the wrong size because people only use them to look up bits of information, rather than reading them through, isn’t the point of writing topics to make the topic contain just the information the reader needs in the moment (so that they will read it through)? Thus we envision our reader’s needs mapping to our topic sets like this: read more