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  1. 1
    John S. Rhodes


    Your comment is a good one. However, I thought that Wayfinding for the Rest of Us or Routefinding for the Rest of Us would have lost too many people. Also, from my point of view, wayfinding is such a huge fraction of IA that I am mostly telling the truth. I’m sure that others, perhaps you, would disagree. That would be fair.

  2. 2

    it was a much shorter comment than your article deserved… it was quite a good article, it just wasn’t “IA for the rest of us”. I think you should be courageous and name is “wayfinding for everyday webdesign” or whatever suits the topic — IA is having a hard enough time defining itself.

    I would say wayfinding was a small but interesting part of what we do– wayfinding is signs in an airport, IA is the design of the building itself….

  3. 3


    why do you need a ‘building’?
    You can experience a journey by just following signs and never entering a built enclosure…

    does information need shelter? support? I need you to map the rest of the metaphor across for me to get it i think.

  4. 4

    Hey Matt– I think I step into it each time I go back to real world architecture as a metaphor for info-arch.

    And of course wayfinding is more than signs… it’s also color cues, affordances, consistant GUI objects, etc… everything that locates and directs on a site, or in a place.

    However, while IA is interested in that, we are more concerned with the act of creating the architecture of information spaces — with an eye for wayfinding, of course, but among other concerns. Is the creation of a taxonomy wayfinding?

    Consider the airport: the architect lays out the needed amount of terminals and hubs, but also makes space for restaurants, gift shops, meetings spaces, restrooms, offices…. he considers the multiplicity of his users needs, as well as the materials at hand and his constraints (lot size, airplane size) and creates an architecture that houses the various human activities that surround catching a flight, as well optimizing people’s ability to get from the parking lot to the terminal (preferably by way of a few gift shops).

    The Information Architect of airline site also works to meet the needs of his various users, from the frequent flier who wants to know if he can get a bump yet, to the worried wife checking to see if her husband’s flight was on time, and creates an architecture that contains spaces for these human activities to occur; as well as designing routes for the humans to get to these spaces, and ways for them to know when they’ve arrived.

    The architect may design a holding room for questioning when a drug-sniffing dog detects a suspect; an info architect may design an error page when a person buying a ticket enters a false credit card. It’s beyond wayfinding.

    It’s an analogy; I’m sure it will melt under heavy attack, but you get the idea– an information architects role is much more considered with structure and use — much bigger than wayfinding.

  5. 5

    i think you’re being very narrow, cw. “color cues, affordances, consistant GUI objects, etc… [and most of the things] that locate and direct on a site, or in a place” are signs. they are all wayfindinghelpers. to me, you appear to be drawing specious differences.

    every studied semiotics?

  6. 6

    in case you – or another reader – hasn’t…

    Semiotics is a science of signs that studies their alphabets (alphabetics), meanings (semantics), connections (syntax), and the ways
    signs express attitudes (pragmatics).

  7. 8
    Ron Edwards

    We notice that you discuss the book Wayfinding: People, Signs, and Architecture, on your Web site. It has been out of print for several years, and now has been reissued as a special, limited edition to commemorate the 10th anniversary of its original publication and the death in 2001 of co-author Paul Arthur. Would you be willing to include a link to the site so your readers can order this book?

    The hard cover collectors’ edition will be available for a short time only and is not available through retailers.

    Find out more at:


    Ron Edwards
    T 1-866-263-6287
    F 1-866-613-6287

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