Info Architechture: Card-Sort Topics, Granularity thereof

Subject: Info Architechture: Card-Sort Topics, Granularity thereof
From: cewinch -at- aep -dot- com
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Mon, 13 Jul 2009 10:53:30 -0400


I'm embarking on my first-ever card sort, and I have a question to put to
your collective wisdom. But before I ask it, some background: I work for a
major electric utility, in the group that sets the standards for how
transmission lines and structures are designed, engineered, and
constructed. The project for which I'm planning a card sort is redesigning
the internal SharePoint site that presents (among other things) our
standards, specifications, and guidelines. As part of that effort, I'm
"information architecting" our body of content--and planning to design the
site so it more or less mirrors the classification system that comes out
of my research (user/task, mental models, etc.). What a concept, huh? ;)

OK. The granularity level I'd decided on was individual-document level. So
I've created labels (to affix to the cards) with document titles on
them...mostly *without* any indication that they're doc. titles--to assist
with sorters' ability focus on the implied content.

Here's the problem: When I do that, I end up with some topics like, for
example: "mehtods for calculating effective catenary curve constants of
ACSR and aluminum conductors at maximum operating temperatures between 167
deg. and 401 deg." Yes, that's the title of a document (just without
initial caps here). It strikes even my inexperienced mind that that's too
broad/inclusive to be considered a single topic that's workable in a card

When I try to paraphrase and pare down the title (for example, "best
practices: calculating catenary curve constants for conductors at maximum
operating temps"), it's still too much packed into one "topic."

I don't think that changing the actual documents' titles is politically
feasible right now, so I'm taking that option off the table.


Thanks in advance for any insight you can provide. :)

Connie Winch
Senior Technical Communicator
American Electric Power

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