Book: How to Make Sense of any Mess – Abby Covert

In this great book you’ll find everything you’ve ever wanted to know about information architecture (IA).

Abby Covert kicks off with a perfect definition of information architecture: “Information architecture is a set of concepts that can help anyone making anything to make sense of messes caused by misinformation, disinformation, not enough, or too much information.

Clear, concise, accessible. Covert gives other definitions: information, data, content, … But that is far from the most important thing she has to say, nor is it the only reason you should read her book.

Information architecture: method and best practices

Covert advocates seven steps in her A-to-Z approach of an IA project:

  1. Identify the mess
  2. State your intent
  3. Face reality
  4. Choose a direction
  5. Measure the distance
  6. Play with structure
  7. Prepare to adjust

Covert dedicates a chapter to each step but does not present a rigid method. Rather, she prefers to present you with tools, best practices, experiences, frustrations and good advice. And rightly so, because every project is so fundamentally different that a rigid, methodical approach would be useless. Instead, she offers you the freedom to select the tools that best fit your situation.

In any case, Covert clearly knows what she is writing about. She puts a well-deserved emphasis on the human aspect of any information architecture project. After all, the emotional aspect will always play a major role, even if it does not always seem that way at the beginning

Not only practical, but…

Covert’s style is pleasant, humorous and sometimes unconventional. She’s straight to the point and does not hesitate to rein you in if she thinks that you might wander off. Most importantly, she asks you not to shy away from inconvenient truths.

What if the light reveals the room is actually empty? The only way to know what happens next is to do it.

(Wouter Verkerken)