Gavin Wye

Independent User Experience consultant

Convincing non belivers

11 April 2008

I was chatting to Danny this morning about a problem he was asked to solve convincing a senior manager that Information Architecture (IA) is a good idea. Off the cuff I came up with this solution. He thought was worthy of a post so here it is.

You should use this tactic when you are working with somone who has a big personality and just thinks that things that you do are crap. It’s sort of cruel ’cos your going to humiliate them to a certain extent, or at least thats the point. To point out the obvious which is that Information Architecture is the most important thing in a web project (probably there are probably other things that are more important like getting paid so don’t embarrass them to much)

  1. Get a load of fridge magnets / letters its important that they are simple fridge magnets, as they have a lot of connotations with children and will help to simplify the point and bring it right down to ground level.
  2. Put all of the fridge magnets in a bin do this in front of the audience to build up the drama, you should make a lot of noise as you put them in the bin.
  3. Withhold one of the magnets, this is important.
  4. Ask the subject to look for the magnet that you have, don't leave it so long that they have a chance to find out that the letter isn't there, otherwise they will get hung up on the fact that you cheated and the whole point of the exercise will be lost.
  5. Stop them and tip the magnets on to the floor.
  6. Ask them to arrange the magnets in a way the they would find it easy to find individual ones. Your making them do a card sort here so they can't argue that they don't want to pay for this.
  7. Then ask them to find the same magnet / letter.

Hopefully you should have justified IA by now if they don’t get it by that time then your in trouble ‘cos you just had a man in a suite crawling around on the floor arranging the alphabet.

The staging of this will be important. You need to ask them to follow your instructions and get them to play along. It may be a good idea to do this in relative private there is a chance that they could be embarrassed by playing with kids toys.

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