Broad (adjective.)

Definition: Provides many choices at once.

Also referenced as:

Related to: Hierarchy, Shallow



The word broad was used 4 times across 4 pages


Chapter 2: State your Intent | Page 32

The words we choose change the things we make and how we think about them. Our words also change how other people make sense of our work.

In writing this book, my intent was to make it:

  • Accessible
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Useful in a broad range of situations

As a result, I had to be comfortable with it not being these other things:

  • Academic
  • Expert-friendly
  • Useful in specific situations


Chapter 4: Choose a Direction | Page 66

Once you know what level you're working at, you can zoom in to the appropriate level of detail. Sometimes we need to zoom all the way in on an object. Other times it's more important to zoom out to look at the ecosystem. Being able to zoom in and out as you work is the key to seeing how these levels affect one another.

When you're deep in the details, it's easy to forget your broad effect. When you're working overhead, it's easy to forget how your decisions affect things down on the ground. Making changes at one level without considering the affects they have on other levels can lead to friction and dissatisfaction between our users, our stakeholders, and us. One tiny change can spark a thousand disruptions.

For example, if we owned a restaurant and decided to eliminate paper napkins to be environmentally friendly, that would impact the entire restaurant, not just the table service our diners experience.

We'd need to consider other factors like where dirty napkins go, how we collect them, how often they're picked up and cleaned, how many napkins we need on hand between cleanings, and if we should use paper napkins if something spills in the dining room.

One tiny decision leads to another, and another.



Chapter 6: Play with Structure | Page 111

When taxonomies are arranged hierarchically, it means that successive categories, ranks, grades, or interrelated levels are being used. In a hierarchy, a user would have to select a labeled grouping to find things within it. A hierarchy of movies might look like this:

- Comedies

  • Romantic comedies
  • Classic comedies
  • Slap-stick comedies

Hierarchies tend to follow two patterns. First, a broad and shallow hierarchy gives the user more choices up front so they can get to everything in a few steps. As an example, in a grocery store, you choose an aisle, and each aisle has certain arrangement of products, but that's as deep as you can go.

A narrow and deep hierarchy gives the user fewer choices at once. On a large website, like usa.gov, a few high level options point users to more specific items with each click.

When individual pieces exist on one level without further categorization, the taxonomy is heterarchical. For example, each lettered box in the arrangement in this illustration is heterarchical.



Chapter 6: Play with Structure | Page 116

Because your structure may change a hundred times before you finish making it, you can save time and frustration by thinking with boxes and arrows before making real changes. Boxes and arrows are easier to move around than the other materials we work with, so start there.

Try structuring the mess with common patterns of boxes and arrows as shown on the next page. Remember that you'll probably need to combine more than one pattern to find a structure that works.

  1. Assess the content and facets that are useful for what you're trying to convey.
  2. Play with broad and shallow versus narrow and deep hierarchies. Consider the right place to use heterarchies, sequences, and hypertext arrangements.
  3. Arrange things one way and then come up with another way. Compare and contrast them. Ask other people for input.
  4. Think about the appropriate level of ambiguity or exactitude for classifying and labeling things within the structure you're pursuing.