When I edited Let's Go: Britain and Ireland - I can't believe that was 8 years ago, it feels like yesterday sometimes - I spent a lot of time doing up the index properly. It was tedious at times, but most people who use travel guides don't read 'em back-to-front. So it caught my eye to read this discussion of indexing the BBC website by Helen Lippell, Information Architect at the BBC. I liked the "primary persona" her team created to imagine who would use the A-Z of the Beeb site:
Sheila is 59, retired, and lives in Newcastle. Her web experience is mainly limited to genealogy and browsing kids’ content on bbc.co.uk with her grandchildren. She has used email and has bought online, but without great confidence. She doesn’t really like searching, and prefers to scan a list of links even if it means scrolling.I've said that one of my annoyances about Gmail is its refusal to let you sort mail, but it's a more general point about how people actually search - despite the multiplication of search boxes, sometimes it's so much easier to find something by sorting, scrolling and then finding it visually. And that's where indices come in.