Article: Playing Cards for Better [Learning] Catalog Organization

In the last article we worked on some core information architecture concepts and how they can and should be applied to your learning catalog. In this article we’re going to focus on specific techniques which are useful for organizing your catalog in a way that users will understand.


Before we get to the process of defining (or validating) a hierarchy to organize your courses into, it’s important to understand the goal of creating the structure and the reasonable expectations. First, the goal is to get the high-level structure right.  This means that we’ll want to get the hierarchies we want to allow and their children for the first few levels nailed down.  These are the levels where the wrong turns are the most critical and the most difficult to recover from, because you’ll have many steps to get back to these decisions.  Each of the decisions at the lower levels will be so close to the final information that they’re likely to be more right and transparent and are inherently easier to navigate back from.

Second, our expectation should be that we’re trying to create a start.  There will be new courses and courses that are retired from the catalog.  We shouldn’t feel compelled to do the process below with every course.  There will be plenty of changes that would quickly invalidate our testing if we decided we had to cover every course.