I have always liked the idea of medieval mapmakers using the phrase "Here Be Dragons" to denote unexplored or dangerous territories. Sticking a fire-breathing reptile in documentation when you run out of facts? That’s panache.
Unexplored and dangerous territories, indeed
These days, people aren’t so stylish. When an information architect (or user experience designer) doesn’t have the time (or the talent) to document content requirements, they stick a "page stack" on their site map. It looks like this:
Don’ t get me wrong: I’m cool with the stack if there is accompanying documentation that provides content details. But when an information architect uses the stack in place of content requirements, they are leaving the client in unexplored and dangerous territories (without even a dragon to warn them).
A little dragon goes a long way
So, I have an idea. If you’re a web professional doing information architecture and you’re not documenting content requirements, stick a dragon on your site map instead of a page stack. This will be a nice heads up for your client and particularly fun for those of you who used to be designers.
If you’re a client and you see a dragon on your site map, consider why your information architect is not worried about the information. Then, call Brain Traffic.
P.S.: Unfortunately, that here-be-dragons bit is mostly a myth. Only one medieval artifact, the Lenox Globe (ca. 1510), actually has the phrase "here be dragons" on it. Well, technically, there’s also the Borgia map (ca. 1430), but it doesn’t really say "here be dragons." It says (over a dragon-like figure), "Here are men who have large horns of the length of four feet, and there are even serpents so large, that they could eat an ox whole." Put that on your site map.