Trumble’s Sixth Law

The alphabet is just another method for creating a random order.

A, B, C, D, E, where the eff did they hide what I’m looking for?

If I had a dime for every time someone suggested that we organize something according to the alphabet, I would have, well a decent amount of money anyway.  Sometimes (read as: once in a while) it’s not a bad idea.  That’s probably the exception and not the rule.

Suppose you are designing a food diary.  Users will need to find the foods they have consumed and enter them in their diary.  Suppose I’ve just had a delightful sugary sweet beverage, where do I find it in the list?  What do I look for?  Pop, Soda, Tonic, Coke maybe fizzy lifting drink?

Users lack a common vocabulary for most things, that’s what makes the alphabet so random.  I know what you mean by pop, but where I’m from we call that soda.

Organizing anything according to the alphabet is often the opposite of organizing them at all.  It’s an abdication of a desire to provide context and information that allows the user to find their way.

In a few instances, where there is near total agreement on the words we used to refer to information, the alphabet is a great tool.  But far more often than not, it’s not much help.