Taxonomy

/Taxonomy

Webster’s defines taxonomy as “the process or system of describing the way in which different living things are related by putting them in groups.” When it comes it comes to the Web, taxonomies are used to classify content, which, while not a living thing, can feel as if it’s proliferating and taking on a life of it’s own.

Taxonomy is all about finding things outside of the typical website page structure. Once you have three or four (or more!) levels of content on a website, it can be hard for customers and users to find what they need. A taxonomy gives users a different way to discover information and makes your content more accessible.

Have you ever shopped for shoes online and been able to search by brand, price, color, size, style, or even heel height? Maybe you wanted ankle boots with a 2 inch heel? Or a cheap pair of sneakers? Or the perfect pair of brown brogues? When a website shows you these different options, you’re using taxonomy to easily weed through the thousands of pairs of shoes available to find exactly what you’re looking for. You save time, feel satisfied, and have a better impression of the website.

A Key Pointe, we create taxonomies that categorize information to improve search, enable automated content, and help authors to find content. When we work with clients, we create the taxonomy and teach you how to continue the taxonomy so it grows in in tandem with your content, thereby empowering your business and your users.

Our Process

Every taxonomy classifies different types of content so there’s no standard taxonomy solution, however the process for creating a taxonomy generally includes:

  • Reviewing a client’s content
  • Discussing current taxonomy challenges
  • Creating a framework to categorize the content
  • Developing and testing the taxonomy
  • Reviewing the proposed taxonomy with subject matter experts
  • Teaching our clients about taxonomy maintenance

Our series of blog posts delving into our philosophy and approach to taxonomy gives you more insight into how taxonomy can support your business.  The following case studies give perspective into  how the taxonomy process can be tailored for individual clients:

Recent Posts in Taxonomy

Testing a Website Taxonomy (Infographic)

When working on a taxonomy project, one question always comes up, "How do we know our taxonomy works?" When spending time and money developing a taxonomy that is critical to business goals and technical needs, it's important to know that the taxonomy is usable and useful. There are several ways we can test taxonomies to ensure they work.

Combining Multiple Taxonomies

Combining multiple taxonomies can be a contentious issue: each taxonomy belongs to a team who has put a lot of thought into their taxonomy and may not easily let go of certain terms or features. However, sometimes taxonomies do need to be combined, and here are some tips on how to go through the process.

Selling a Website Taxonomy to Your Organization

While you recognize that your company needs a website taxonomy or intranet taxonomy, you may not be sure how to convince management to provide resources to create, implement, and maintain a taxonomy. Here are some tips.

Actionable Steps to Improve Your Taxonomy

If you’re working on a taxonomy that doesn’t have the resources (right now) to do a lot of research and engagement with subject matter experts, there are still some actionable steps you can take to improve your taxonomy.

Best Practices for Building a Website Taxonomy

While each taxonomy project has its own quirks, there is a basic methodology we can use for planning, building, and maintaining a taxonomy.

Guiding Others Through Building a Website Taxonomy

After going through numerous taxonomy projects, I've learned a few things about how to work with stakeholders and subject matter experts to build a website taxonomy. Here is a presentation with a few tips for making the taxonomy development process smoother.

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Theresa Putkey did a wonderful job organizing the information design for Rocky View County’s upcoming website. The existing site was a navigational disaster, but Theresa expertly guided us through the process of identifying the steps required to understand the information needs of our audience, and then crafted a solid, well-researched organizational framework for us to build a new site around. Among other highlights she rethought and greatly improved our primary navigation system, introduced a detailed taxonomy, mapped our information hierarchy to key user goals and profiles.
Dan Schwartz, Rocky View County
The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Theresa is 1. She’s talented and 2. She’s professional. Both exceptional qualities you want in a consultant. Her eye to detail and attention make her a fantastic user-centered design expert. Additionally, she’s happy to roll her sleeves up and perform some business analysis if need be to help the effort alone. She brings the interests of the stakeholders and users together to make a more effective product, while making the job fun.
Lisa Mena-Hartnett