Midwest UX 2014 Recap: Wayfinding on the Web


Both employed by Indiana University's Process eXperience Architecture (PXA) department, Tara Bazler and Chris Basham (@chrisbasham) cover many parallels between navigating forests and the wilderness of the web. Many of the theories will be familiar to anyone who has ever taken library science courses or practiced information architecture for a few years. For those who have not this talk offers the perfect gateway into Peter Morville's writings.

Some people just want to take the most direct route from point A to point B. These people, using the strategy similar to known item searching, should be able to quickly jump into your interface to get their task done. Whether it be purchasing a book, checking out a title from Overdrive, or locating a journal item based on title and author, the emphasis on the end goal.

In contrast some people prefer to take a more indirect route. This category still maintains interest in an end goal although the journey does not have to be efficient. Academic research offers a good example. An undergraduate student, assigned to write a paper on the Civil War, knows generally where to begin. They also know that the length needs to be roughly five pages. Getting there may take them down a few dead ends though with some backtracking.

The final type of navigation focuses completely on the journey. Ever visit Wikipedia meaning to look up one thing only to discover an hour later you wound up somewhere completely different? Randall Munroe definitely has. Sometimes meant as nothing more than a way to idly pass time this method can be summed up as "I will know it when I see it".

If you are not familiar with navigational strategies as they relate to the web allow yourself 30 minutes to watch and process this presentation. It will help frame your own journey through the information architecture landscape and the decades of research in the topic.