Add signs

People need signs at points where they must make a decision. Sometimes, the information on a sign will already be present in the objects it describes in some way, but needs to be made simpler, larger, further away, or more consistent in order to be useful to people. Signs should be scaled to the point of need, so people aren’t overwhelmed with specific information before it’s useful to them.

In the real world, this means that street signs are usually placed at intersections, but not the middle of blocks. Similarly, house numbers are visible when close to the house, but not from blocks away. Grocery stores list information in a consistent format by using shelf tags. Some of the information on these tags is on the products themselves (like the name), and some is new, (like the price.) The information on the tags isn’t visible until a customer gets quite close and is deciding between several similar things.

In the digital world, Metadata often functions as useful signage for users. A user might be able to infer that a recipe is vegetarian, based on reading it, but it’s much easier to have a “vegetarian” tag listed at the top. Like traditional retail, e-commerce sites will add additional information that couldn’t be gleaned from the object itself, like prices.