How to Make Sense of Any Mess

Publisher summary

Everyone has a mess in their life they need to make sense of. 

As an information architect, I see everything getting more complex. I believe the world is going to need a new wave of sensemakers who are prepared for the information-based challenges that lay ahead.

I wrote this book because I believe that information architecture is the right framing of theory and practice to prepare someone to make sense of the kinds of gnarly and complex challenges like the ones faced today by designers, product managers, researchers, writers, teachers … and the list of sensemaking-fueled jobs goes on. 

What is Information Architecture?

Information architecture (IA) is the way we arrange the parts of something to make it understandable as a whole.

When we make things for others to use, the decisions we make about language and structure impact whether we deliver our intended message to our intended users. That’s because every thing we make shares one important non-thing: information.

What is Information? It is helpful for some to think of information as what is left behind in the mind of each person who encounters something. In order to get the intended information into those specific and individual minds, we sensemakers have to make decisions that are about the structure, or architecture, and not just the surface of whatever we are making.

I could have written a book about information architecture for websites or mobile applications or whatever else is trendy. Instead, I decided to focus on ways people could wrangle any mess, regardless of what it’s made of.

Table of contents

  • Chapter 1: Identify the Mess
  • Chapter 2: State Your Intent
  • Chapter 3: Face Reality
  • Chapter 4: Choose a Direction
  • Chapter 5: Measure the Distance
  • Chapter 6: Play with Structure
  • Chapter 7: Prepare to Adjust


Abby Covert