Information Mapping

One of the most useful courses that I have taken as an Instructional Designer was Information Mapping.  The course taught me how to write content in such a way as to make it truly useful for my end users.  While Information Mapping isn't specific to instructional design, I find it the difference between just good written work and really excellent written work.  Here is a rather silly video that explains rather well what Information Mapping essentially is.

I use it specifically for the design of job aids. For those that don't use them, a job aid is a tool that guides learners through the steps of a particular task within their job.  Job aids are particularly useful when the job is infrequently completed in the organization. For example in a retail store, the employees may be required to count the inventory on a quarterly basis.

I use Information Mapping for the creation of job aids because the learners out in the field often only want enough information to complete these tasks.  Studies have been done that show people do not read business or training documents the same way they may read literature.  Typically users scan a document to find the information they require at that moment.  If they need to wade through countless paragraphs of information, it will make the task seem more difficult than it actually is.  Because of this steps within the task may get completed incorrectly, or skipped altogether.

The first step to Information Mapping is breaking down the content into chunks of information.  To do this you need to look at each and every sentence from your raw content.  Place all like things together and exclude items that do not have to do with each topic.  If a piece of information says essentially the same thing as another piece of information you don’t need both.  Pick the one that explains the point most succinctly and then more on.

Once you have the chunks separated from one another, you need to block this information off, each with its own label along the left hand side of the page.  Labels that all deal with the same topic is organized into what are called maps.  Think of each map as a chapter within a book, and each label its own paragraph.  This structure makes it easy for your readers to ignore what they are not looking for and zero in on what they need at that exact moment.

For more information about Information Mapping check out their web site at

Information Mapping Demo