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Berry Picking

What is Berry Picking?

In information architecture, "berry picking" refers to a method of information retrieval where users iteratively search for and collect pieces of information from various sources to gradually build their understanding or complete a task. It is analogous to picking berries one by one from different bushes.

Berry picking emphasizes the non-linear and iterative nature of information seeking and retrieval. Rather than finding all the desired information in one source or in a predetermined order, users navigate through different sources, search results, or sections of a website to gather relevant information. They collect "berries" or relevant pieces of information along the way, making connections and refining their understanding as they progress.

This approach recognizes that users may not have a clear path or complete knowledge of what they are seeking at the beginning. They actively explore, evaluate, and select information based on their evolving needs and understanding. Berry picking acknowledges the importance of flexibility, exploration, and adaptability in information seeking processes.

Why is Berry Picking important?

Berry picking is important in information architecture for several reasons:

Flexibility and Adaptability: Berry picking acknowledges that users' information needs may evolve and change over time. It allows users to adjust their search strategies and explore different sources as their understanding deepens, enabling them to find the most relevant and useful information.

User-Centered Approach: By embracing the iterative and non-linear nature of information retrieval, berry picking aligns with user-centered design principles. It recognizes that users have unique perspectives and preferences, allowing them to personalize their search process and focus on information that is most relevant and valuable to them.

Efficient and Effective Information Retrieval: Berry picking enables users to retrieve information in a more efficient and effective manner. Instead of relying solely on predetermined paths or fixed hierarchies, users can navigate through different sources, follow links, and make connections to access information from multiple angles, potentially uncovering hidden or unexpected insights.

Serendipitous Discovery: By allowing users to explore and collect information from various sources, berry picking increases the likelihood of serendipitous discovery. Users may come across unexpected but valuable information or make novel connections between disparate pieces of information, leading to new insights and ideas.

Improved User Engagement: Berry picking promotes active engagement and participation in the information-seeking process. It allows users to be in control of their exploration, empowering them to make informed decisions and contribute to their own learning or problem-solving journey.

Contextual Understanding: Berry picking encourages users to gather information from different contexts or perspectives. This helps users develop a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of a topic, as they consider multiple viewpoints and diverse sources of information.

How to use Berry Picking?

o effectively use the berry picking approach in information architecture, consider the following steps:

Understand User Needs: Gain a deep understanding of the users and their information needs. Identify the goals, motivations, and context in which they are seeking information. This understanding will inform the design of the information architecture.

Provide Multiple Access Points: Create an information architecture that offers multiple entry points and paths for users to explore. Ensure that information is organized and interconnected in a way that allows users to navigate between different sources, sections, or topics.

Enable Search Functionality: Implement a search function that allows users to quickly find specific information. Ensure that the search is robust and provides relevant results, accommodating various search queries and user intents.

Provide Clear Navigation: Design clear and intuitive navigation menus, categories, or filters that facilitate exploration. Consider the user's mental model and organize information in a way that aligns with their expectations.

Support Serendipitous Discovery: Enable serendipitous discovery by offering related or recommended content as users navigate through the information architecture. This can be achieved through features like related links, suggested articles, or personalized recommendations.

Offer Contextual Information: Provide contextual information and cross-references within the content to help users make connections and understand the relationships between different pieces of information.

Iterative Design and Testing: Continuously iterate and improve the information architecture based on user feedback and insights. Observe how users navigate, search, and collect information, and make adjustments to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the berry picking approach.

Evaluate and Refine: Regularly evaluate the performance of the information architecture, analyze user interactions and feedback, and refine the structure and organization of the information to better align with user needs and preferences.

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About Akendi

Akendi is a human experience design firm, leveraging equal parts experience research and creative design excellence. We provide strategic insights and analysis about customer and user behaviour and combine this knowledge with inspired design. The results enable organizations to improve effectiveness, engage users and provide remarkable customer experiences to their audiences.