Taxonomies

Taxonomy Purposes and Benefits

Taxonomies are structured, controlled sets of terms/tags/categories use to aid in the retrieval of content. They may be implemented in many different kinds of systems: content management systems, web content management systems, SharePoint, digital asset management systems, document management systems, records management systems, library systems, museum and archives systems, and proprietary database management systems. Taxonomies serve various purposes and benefits related to helping users find the content they want.

    • Browsing
      A hierarchical taxonomy for browsing guides users through a hierarchical arrangement of concepts, so they can find an appropriate topic of interest, without having to guess the exact name of the topic, or discovery a new category of interest, and from there can access content on that topic.
    • Filtering
      A taxonomy structured into facets, also called filters or refinements, allows users to dynamically restrict search result sets based on various criteria, aspects, or attributes, in combination.  Each facet has a controlled list of terms from which to select.
      Faceted taxonomies and hierarchical taxonomies can be combined.
    • Searching
      A taxonomy or controlled vocabulary with synonyms/variant terms can support search by matching user-entered search strings to taxonomy term concepts which are appropriately tagged to only and all relevant content. Documents with different wordings of a concept will not be missed, and documents with the same word in a different meaning will not be incorrectly retrieved. On a public website, a taxonomy may also aid in search engine optimization (SEO).
    • Tagging/Indexing
      Documents are more easily found if they are tagged with keywords, tags, or topics. But if the tags are inconsistent in their names, then tagging will be inconsistent. Two documents on the same topic, might receive different tags. By tagging only with terms on the approved, controlled list of taxonomy terms, documents can be consistently tagged and found.
      Tagging may be manual, automated, or semi-automated with human review.

A single taxonomy may serve multiple purposes; but sometimes distinct taxonomies work best.


Taxonomy Consulting Services

Heather Hedden is currently providing limited taxonomy consulting services in:

    • Taxonomy review and evaluation
      Providing feedback and high-level recommendations for improvement.
    • Minor or small taxonomy revision
      Editing and enhancing of an existing taxonomy, not requiring renewed analysis of content and gathering input from users.

Heather Hedden previously provided taxonomy consulting services, and now will provide referrals to taxonomy colleagues in the following:

    • Major taxonomy revision
      Major or minor editing and enhancing of a taxonomy, involving  analysis of content and gathering input from users. Taxonomy testing assistance.
    • Taxonomy design and creation
      Consulting regarding the type of taxonomy/thesaurus, size and scope, breadth and depth, and partial or complete taxonomy development and build-out
      Components of such an consulting engagement typically include: content audit and analysis, interviews of stakeholders and sample users, review of existing or legacy vocabularies, use case definitions, taxonomy type and structural recommendations, building out terms and their hierarchies (including adding synonyms/variants, additional relationships, scope notes, and other attributes), and use-case-based taxonomy testing.
    • Metadata design
      Consulting on the design of a larger metadata model or strategy, of which a taxonomy is a part
    • Taxonomy mapping
      Creating links (as crosswalks) between sufficiently equivalent  or narrower-to-broader terms to enable one taxonomy to be used to access content tagged with another taxonomy
    • Taxonomy governance recommendations
      Drafting guidelines for taxonomy policies and maintenance, for indexing/tagging, and for taxonomy management system considerations

These services apply to “taxonomies” in the broad sense, including all types of controlled vocabularies: hierarchical taxonomies, faceted taxonomies, search thesauri, full literature retrieval thesauri, and ontologies.

List of past projects and clients