Оригінал англійською Переклад українською

A very common term when designing a website is information architecture. The use of the term "architecture" implies talking about the basic function, configuration, and layout. Just look at any architectural plan, such as the one in Figure 2.1.


The plan is rather minimalist with respect to providing any details. All it provides is the general layout of spaces serving a given function (e. g., kitchen and bedroom), the location of each such place inn the overall configuration relative to other places. In addition, by depicting doors and passages, it gives us clear information regarding the routes one should take to navigate from one place to another. Yet, as minimalist as it is, the drawing is highly useful in assessing the architectural plan before proceeding to implement it: Are all desired functions provided for (e.g., that there is a place for the den)?


Is there enough space allocated for each function (e.g., dining and living room should be the largest place)? Is access to rooms appropriate? Do the routes and distances between places support easy navigation from one place to another? In other words, a typical architectural plan provides us with the global features first before introducing the details.


The representation of the conceptual models is similar to the architectural plan. It helps to ensure that there is a "place" for each function and that the routes for navigating from one place to another support the interaction workflow adequately. How can we best visually represent such global features before getting into the details?


To analyze and discuss conceptual models, we use the visual language of boxes and arrows. In other words, we are talking about conceptual models in rather abstract terms that are void of any details. Why is it important to remain on the abstract level when designing and discussing the conceptual model before getting into the details?


The abstract representation of the conceptual models supports well one of the fundamental characteristics of human perception and understanding. A classic research on human perception and attention (Navon, 1977) suggests that the global structure of a visual scene tends to precede perception of any local features, rather than perceiving all features at once.


The original study used stimuli similar to those in Figure 2.2. The findings of the study suggest that people respond faster to perceiving the letter "H" in both the left and the right elements in Figure 2.2, compared to identifying from which characters the large "H" is composed of ("H" in the left-hand stimulus and "S" in the right-hand stimulus). The large letter "H" is considered as a global feature of the visual scene, and the letters composing the large letter are considered as local features or the details.


FIGURE 2.1: A simple architectural plan.

Dining and living room
Largest bedroom
Linen closet


FIGURE 2.2: Stimuli used in the Navon (1977) original study of global precedence.


This is referred to as "global precedence." In general, the global precedence hypothesis claims that the processing of a visual scene begins with attention to the global properties first followed by local as time progresses.


We can consider the abstract representation of the conceptual model as representing the global features of the model, and later on when we add all the details, those will be the local features. Such representation of the conceptual model is sufficient for an early assessment of the implications for human performance and user experience.


Stakeholders assess the conceptual model better when we first encounter the "global features" of the model before immersing ourselves in the details. Consistent with the natural "global precedence" in our visual perception and understanding is our use of the spatial metaphor and spatial terms when we talk about conceptual models.