A book about information architecture for everyone.


How to Make Sense of Any Mess is a beginner’s guide to information architecture (IA) that provides frameworks and exercises to help anyone learn how to make sense of any mess.

I wrote this book because 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 believe that information architecture is the right framing of theory and practice to prepare someone to make sense of those kinds of challenges.

Information architecture is the way that 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. 

The things you’re making sense of may be analog or digital; used once or for a lifetime; made by hand or manufactured by machines.

I believe every mess and every thing shares one important non-thing: information.

I define “mess” the same way that most dictionaries do:

A situation where the interactions between people and information are confusing or full of difficulties.

Who doesn’t bump up against messes made of information and people every day?

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.

This book provides a seven step process for making sense of any mess.

Each chapter contains a set of lessons as well as workbook exercises architected to help you to work through your own mess.

The book is available in: English, Japanese & Spanish.

Because I want the world to have more sensemakers, it is additionally offered in its entirety as a free online book and all the worksheets are expanded on in my list of Information Architecture Tools

A menagerie of prototypes were made over the 18 months I worked on this book with various test audiences.