Flexible (adjective.)

Definition: Able to be modified to respond to altered circumstances or feedback.

Also referenced as: Flexibility (noun)

Related to: Diagram, Language, Structure, Taxonomy



The word flexible was used 3 times across 3 pages


Chapter 3: Face Reality | Page 41

Beware of jumping into an existing solution or copying existing patterns. In my experience, too many people buy into an existing solution's flexibility to later discover its rigidity.

Imagine trying to design a luxury fashion magazine using a technical system for grocery store coupons. The features you need may seem similar enough until you consider your context. That's when reality sets in.

What brings whopping returns to one business might crush another. What works for kids might annoy older people. What worked five years ago may not work today.

We have to think about the effects of adopting an existing structure or language before doing so.

When architecting information, focus on your own unique objectives. You can learn from and borrow from other people. But it's best to look at their decisions through the lens of your intended outcome.



Chapter 3: Face Reality | Page 47

If people judge books by their covers, they judge diagrams by their tidiness.

People use aesthetic cues to determine how legitimate, trustworthy, and useful information is. Your job is to produce a tidy representation of what you're trying to convey without designing it too much or polishing it too early in the process.

As you make your diagram, keep your stakeholders in mind. Will they understand it? Will anything distract them? Crooked lines, misspellings, and styling mistakes lead people astray. Be careful not to add another layer of confusion to the mess.

Make it easy to make changes so you can take in feedback quickly and keep the conversation going, rather than defending or explaining the diagram.

Your diagram ultimately needs to be tidy enough for stakeholders to understand and comment on it, while being flexible enough to update.



Chapter 6: Play with Structure | Page 105

The more ambiguous you are, the more likely it is that people will have trouble using your taxonomy to find and classify things.

For every ambiguous rule of classification you use or label you hide behind, you'll have to communicate your intent that much more clearly.

For example, what if I had organized the lexicon in the back of this book by chapter, instead of alphabetically? This might be an interesting way of arranging things, but it would need to be explained, so you could find a term.

The more exact your taxonomy becomes, the less flexible it is. This isn't always bad, but it can be. If you introduce something that doesn't fit into a category things can get confusing.

Because there are many words for the same thing, exact classifications can slow us down. For example, I recently tried to buy some zucchini at a grocery store. But it wasn't until the clerk in training found the code for "Squash, Green" that she could ring me up.