Linguistic categories

  • Acronyms – Acronyms are words that are produced using the first letter of other words. Acronyms are often used in government and business. Some examples of common acronyms are NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and SCUBA (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus).
  • Capitonyms – A capitonym is a word that has a different meaning and may be pronounced differently in capitalized form. For example, “The Polish woman used polish on her nails.”
  • Eponyms – Eponyms are words that come into the language from a person’s name. For example, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite, gave the English language the word “aphrodisiac”.
  • Homographs – Homographs are two or more words that are spelled the same but differ in pronunciation and meaning. For example, “The dove glided through the air while the eagle dove toward the ground.”
  • Homonyms – Homonyms are two or more words that are spelled and pronounced the same but have different meanings. An example: “It’s best not to court your tennis opponent while on the court.”
  • Homophones – Homophones are two or more words that are pronounced the same but differ in spelling and meaning. The words “four, for, and fore” are homophones. A sentence with two homophones would be “I need you to knead this dough for me.”

Picked from:

Basic level categories (Rosch)

Just as Hunn (1975) argued that the basic level for animal categories is the only level at which categorization is determined by overall gestalt perception (without distinctive feature analysis), so Rosch and others (1976) have found that the basic level is:

  • The highest level at which category members have similarly perceived overall shapes.
  • The highest level at which a single mental image can reflect the entire category.
  • The highest level at which a person uses similar motor actions for interacting with category members.
  • The level at which subjects are fastest at identifying category members.
  • The level with the most commonly used labels for category members.
  • The first level named and understood by children.
  • The first level to enter the lexicon of a language.
  • The level with the shortest primary lexemes.
  • The level at which terms are used in neutral contexts. For example, There’s a dog on the porch can be used in a neutral context, whereas special contexts are needed for There’s a mammal on the porch or There’s a wire-haired terrier on the porch. (See Cruse 1977.)
  • The level at which most of our knowledge is organized.

Thus basic-level categories are basic in four respects:

  • Perception: Overall perceived shape; single mental image; fast identicfication.
  • Function: General motor program.
  • Communication: Shortest, most commonly used and contextually neutral words, first learned by children and first to enter the lexicon.
  • Knowledge Organization: Most attributes of category members are stored at this level.

Lakoff (1987), p.46-7

IA Checklist


  1. Are we still talking to our primary target audience?
  2. Are our labels accurate and informative?
  3. Can any of our labels be misinterpreted?
  4. Are we speaking a language our audience understands?

  1. Does all our information fit together logically?
  2. Can visitors easily (logically) find the answers to the questions we asked during the role playing phase?
  3. Are any chunks of information left dangling somewhere without a logical place in the overall hierarchy?
  4. Is there a mechanism by which visitors can see what’s new on our site? (If not, do we need one?)
  5. Have we effectively established shared references?
  6. Have we established ourselves as a company to be trusted?
    Navigation and links

  1. Is our structure too wide? (Can some menus be consolidated effectively?)
  2. Is our structure too narrow and deep? (Do we need to split some menus up into more specific subjects?)
  3. Is there too much repetition of the same basic editorial content from one menu item to another?
  4. Can we reduce the number of clicks needed to reach the lowest levels without sacrificing understanding or logic?
  5. Are frequently accessed areas too far from the top level?
  6. Is related (contextual) information contained in different parts of the site properly linked? Is there a way to bundle it in an even more convenient way?
  7. Are links used consistently? What type of links can be determined? Are meaningful trigger words used?
    Individual Pages

  1. Do we really have something to say on each of the main category pages or are they merely glorified menus?
  2. Have some pages been created merely for the sake of completeness?
  3. If someone has submitted information or placed an order, are all the appropriate “Thank you” pages indicated?
    Goals and Growth

  1. Does the structure live up to our primary goals?
  2. Is the site meeting the goals of our target audience?
  3. Have we given people a reason to come back and visit again?
  4. Is the site prepared for growth and/or change in the future?
  5. Have we found our site’s USP? Is our product the hero?

Orphaned pages

“[Orphaned pages are] pages that can only be accessed by direct links from another page but that do not have a home in the site hierarchy.” (eg. disclaimer)

From: Reiss, E.L. (2000), Practical Information Architecture, Harlow: Pearson Education, p. 127

Faceted classification

“This is a faceted classification: a set of mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive categories, each made by isolating one perspective on the items (a facet), that combine to completely describe all the objects in question, and which users can use, by searching and browsing, to find what they need.”

From: Denton, William (2003), ‘How to make a faceted classification and put it on the Web’, [online] Available:

Site categories

  • Categories reinforce the relationship between information p.40
  • Categorisation might conflict with different interests
  • “Most categorisation moves from general to specific.” p.38; “Organizing information from general to specific also carries the benefit of progressive disclosure.” p.39; “progressing disclosure provides you with the portion of information you want when you’re ready for it.”

From: Wroblewski, Luke (2002), Site-Seeing: A Visual Approach to Web-Usability, New York: Hungry Minds