Heavy-Duty Information Organization Techniques for Seriously Messy Designs

Abby Covert · Monday, November 13 · 8:30am – 5:30pm · in Plaza C

Any large scale design sees entropy set in, as it becomes more of a mess with every new feature and data source. Confusion abounds and frustration emerges, as users do their best to navigate and complete their tasks, but serious house cleaning is in order.

Get your messy, complex information architecture challenges under control. Put confidence behind your recommendations with a detailed understanding of the meaning and connections buried in your design.

Reduce your design’s confusion and frustration by implementing controlled vocabularies and taxonomies. Choreograph your organization’s information architecture across multiple audiences, contexts, devices, and channels.

Nobody brings deeper knowledge and experience than Abby when tackling gnarly information architecture problems.

The Day’s Agenda


Create your design’s controlled vocabulary

  • Understand the distinction between data, content, and information
  • Craft a controlled vocabulary from your design’s object layer and actions, the nouns and verbs
  • Deconstruct the critical meaning of words, including their hierarchy, association, equivalence, and sequence

Build and test an effective site taxonomy

  • Practice categorizing and testing complex information with card sorting
  • Learn organizational models, including LATCH and Ranganathan’s five ways to classify based on personality, matter, energy, space, and time
  • Dive into taxonomic patterns within hierarchies, flows, and sequences


Choreograph your IA across audiences, contexts and channels

  • Analyze a service experience across multiple channels to craft the ontology and taxonomies
  • Architect for user constraints so people understand what they can—or cannot do—using the design
  • Successfully balance the intention of the product and the desires of the user

Effectively facilitate decisions across the organization

  • Practice information architecture collaboratively with on-the-fly maps and diagrams
  • Learn proven facilitation techniques for debating information architecture decisions
  • Lead the creation of a controlled vocabulary in a working session with your team

Manage the Information and Language Chaos

Bring together structures and languages across multiple product lines

In organizations with multiple products and large-scale web sites, a solid information architecture helps you wrangle through the mess of information. Uncover practical techniques for wrangling in the insanity and delivering a consistent experience.

Gain consensus on information organization and language within your organization

Information architecture often sits in the middle, making sense of many disparate opinions about a site’s language and organization. You’ll learn techniques for objectively reaching consensus with you team.

Influence information architecture decisions across your organization

It doesn’t matter how great your process is if no one acts on it. By adding collaborative facilitation techniques to your repertoire, you will successfully achieve buy-in for decisions.

You’ll see how to:

  • Craft an information architecture across multiple platforms
  • Establish a consistent vocabulary across all products
  • Classify information with proven organizational models
  • Effectively debate language and structure requirements with stakeholders
  • Confidently facilitate working IA sessions with collaborative techniques
  • Organize mounds of complex information to achieve a delightful user experience

Make Sense of the Messes

Disentangle the confusing interactions between people and information

Many organizations find that even simple projects stall out due to lack of clarity, agreement, and understanding around structure and language. You will see how to bring order to the chaos.

Bring effective structure and language to your digital experiences

Whether you are working on bringing order to your CMS, information-rich websites, intranet, extranet, or complex software application, you’ll learn to achieve consistency across the board.

Use a team-oriented process for making architecture decisions

By expanding your facilitation skills, you’ll help your team to make solid decisions based on data, rather than opinions.

Use taxonomies and ontologies to deliver great products

By taking advantage of a proven process for classifying and structuring information, you will undertake complex design problems with confidence.

Expand Your Toolkit of Advanced Information Architecture Techniques

The day will be balanced between gleaning Abby’s wisdom and trying it on your own with interactive, fun activities. And discussion, lots of discussion to get your questions answered and hear what’s worked for others.

Abby Covert The IA

Photo of Abby Covert

Here’s what Jared says about why he chose Abby for UI22…

Over the last decade, I’ve been impressed as Abby emerged as one of the foremost thinkers in information architecture. Listening to her talk about organizing complex information spaces is always a treat, as she translates hairy complex ideas into simple, easy-to-grasp concepts.

Her book, How to Make Sense of Any Mess, took the design community by storm, as a clear guide for creative information architecture techniques. It combines her deep knowledge of the craft of IA with her experience being a leader in the community. The breadth of her work, from Nike to the IHOP (yah, she worked on menu design there), informs her perspective on design, which in turn, is at the heart of what makes her a great teacher.

It’s easy to walk away from her presentations and workshops with a feeling of confidence and a plan to make turn the messiest of information spaces into order. If you’re dealing with a crazy design, you’ll want to spend a day with Abby empowering you to tackle the mess.

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