Content taxonomies have continually gained credibility, over the years, as the key element in ensuring the success of content management projects. From the Greek, taxis, meaning ‘order’ and ‘arrangement’, taxonomies use taxonomic units to classify and position in a hierarchical structure otherwise random objects. When the taxonomy definition is applied to digital content, it generally includes software that uses auto-categorization algorithms to find, screen, and classify information.

Taxonomy is about so much more than categorizing content. A content management strategy focuses on people, processes and technologies that support the content throughout its lifecycle. The same focus is provided for creating a taxonomy as we design the taxonomy from the perspective of end user content handling responsibilities within their processes and supporting technology.

Without a formal taxonomy, organizational content usually remains trapped and unusable in local databases and employee desktops, which provides little to no content context and makes it difficult to access, adapt and, reuse.

For example, an apple is a subtype of fruit, so an apple is a fruit but not every fruit is an apple.

Organizing content in a uniform scheme, across the enterprise, supports the effective and efficient interoperability of corporate systems and business processes. The best practice content management strategy is a customized design and development of a business content taxonomy based on both business and technical employee requirements.

Taxonomy Definition

Taxonomy as used in the content management environment is defined as the science of classifying information (content and knowledge). Market intelligence supports the finding that a majority of small and medium businesses (SMBs) have not yet deployed a defined content taxonomy. However, a large percentage of these companies, use a “folksonomy” defined as metadata generated because of social tagging. Compared with managed metadata approach, a folksonomy’s term set grows organically, rather than being predefined as in a taxonomy. In summary, taxonomies provide a logical structure for organizing enterprise information, thus making it quicker and easier to locate and use in work activities.

A taxonomy represents both the hierarchical structure into which content is authored and generally drives site and URL structures and the metadata elements and vocabularies created for meta tagging content.

Metatags are developed during creation and refinement of the taxonomy. They are used to identify content items for re-use across the organization, creating personalized pages for users, assisting with search, optimizing storage, and streamlining site modifications.

Taxonomy Design Project Outline

The key activities of a taxonomy design project include the below activities:

  1. Define and Document Taxonomy Project Objectives & Goals
  2. Identify Business Strategies and Policies Associated with Content Management
  3. Map and Evaluate Business and Support Processes:
    Human and System-Generated Content Use Interactions and Decision-Making Points.
  4. Identify Content Streamlining Opportunities
  5. Understand the Content:
    Obsolete content
    Correct categorization
    Content organization within multiple categories
    Search: number of ‘clicks’
    Flexibility and redundancy
  6. Identify the Right Taxonomy Type: (Tree Structure, Facet, Frameworks and Matrices, Maps)
  7. Identify and Quantify Benefits
  8. Design and Populate Taxonomy Structure

Taxonomy Value Points

The financial and non-financial benefits typically realized from a successful design and deployment of a content management taxonomy encompass:

  • Organize and classify company information uniformly throughout the organization.
  • Improve content search and usability.
  • Support business growth.
  • Improve employee productivity.
  • Automatically inventory and monitor content based on a structured understanding of user and community need.

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