Information Architecture of Texts

Not only websites, but also texts can be considered from the point of view of information architecture. Anyone who just starts writing and can publish it without editing is either a natural talent or will only get confused looks.

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information hierarchy

A text on the Internet should be structured according to the classic journalistic pyramid: the most important is at the top, it becomes more specific as you go down. In no case do we have to read a text to the end to get the punchline, unless it is a conversational text.

Scientific texts and many blog posts have a similar structure. At the beginning there is the thesis or the core statement, all the rest is the derivation.

In certain areas, the management summary has established itself, a summary that is at the beginning and not at the end of the text, even though it is written last. I suppose it serves as a summary, leaving the reader to read only those parts of the rest of the text that he finds interesting.

Most information texts are structured according to the Christmas tree principle. One strand of argument after the next is rolled out, with the individual strands being more or less related.

colors and characters

Some books use an information code to identify different categories of information. Information boxes that fall out of the running text are framed or highlighted in color to distinguish them from the running text. Sometimes you will also find signs in the margins that signalize to the reader that this is a marginal note, a task in a textbook or a small digression. The advantage is that the reader can search for these blocks or skip them.

explanations in the margins

In the case of many paragraphs in the Springer textbooks, the core statement of the paragraph is summarized on the outer edge of the page.

I think that's a pretty good solution. Sometimes you are specifically looking for specific information that you suspect in this text. Scanning these summaries is still easier than going through the text itself. Most authors are under the misconception that they are being read because their texts are written so nice. In fact, most texts on the WWW are only skimmed through, which is often noticeable in the inadequate comments. The flood of information can hardly be managed otherwise. Incidentally, blind persons are probably among the few who actually read a text from beginning to the end, at least if they don't have to leaf through it. Since the screen reader reads everything anyway - and at a high speed - scanning would n't save much time.

It's no different in science: only freshmen get the idea of ​​reading through a textbook. The thought is peculiar. For a diploma thesis you would have to read several thousand pages in a few weeks.

When applying the basic idea of ​​hunting and gathering to the web, we mostly look for ideas or aspects that we haven't come across befor e. 99 percent of all texts are compilations of already well-known texts, so we're looking for that one creative thought, that new aspect, that new perspective, or that new idea that we haven't noticed before. Often enough we are disappointed.

That is why a reasonable information architecture is important. How do we arrange information in such a way that the user can find what he is looking for as quickly and easily as possible?

The information architecture therefore goes beyond typography, text structuring and aesthetic aspects.

The future of the text

I'm pretty sure that infographics will also establish itself in the journalistic field. A connection can be captured much more quickly in a diagram than in two or three paragraphs of text. With CSS3 and HTML5, very exciting things can only be built with web standards, especially Canvas promises exciting applications.

It would also be interesting to ask whether the linearity of texts will ever be abolished. Basically, we still use the Internet like a book. We read a text from begin to end. If we want deeper or more general information about a certain section, we have to open a new page. How about if we could simply open a block for each piece of information, which would provide us with further relevant information from Wikipedia? And why do you have to comment on an entire article if you want to comment on a specific section? Why can't I view the comments for a specific section?

A lot can be imagined, although today's authors don't seem to be very keen on experimenting. Most of the time it's argued that persons aren't quite ready to deal with nonlinear hypertext. But I think it's more a question of implementation and getting used to it.

It is conceivable, for example, that a text could be written for laypersons and experts at the same time. usually you have to decide whether you want to overwhelm the layman or underwhelm the expert. The solution would be very simple: the layman gets to see certain explanatory paragraphs that the expert only shows when he needs it.

Texts may be more modular in the future. As an author, you have to think very carefully about whether to include a small digression or an example in the text, or whether you are just boring the reader. The future reader will simply be able to decide whether he wants to read the information at this point or not.

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