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Taxonomy plays a vital role in your website’s user experience. It enables better search options, display logic, and a variety of personalization possibilities.

Taxonomy itself helps you better organize content when you use it in content management and information architecture. A taxonomy contains axes, which is defined as a specific category and its metadata. Common examples of a taxonomy axis include Content Type or Topic. A taxonomy and its axis enable content relationships, which you can use to drive numerous features and experiences across your website.

When planning and implementing your website’s underlying taxonomy strategy and structure, you should consider People, a valuable taxonomy axis, that’s often under-utilized or overlooked. Whether staff or members, people within an organization hold unique and useful attributes and metadata that are beneficial to content relationships and the experiences they allow.

Top 10 Strategies to Create an Effective Website Taxonomy

More than a Job Title

A typical people taxonomy axis will contain the common attributes and metadata associated with people within or members of an organization. These often include things like: Division/Department, Authored Content, and of course, Job Title. These attributes are useful for team or member directories, or finding content by a particular person (e.g., content authored by them).

However, there may be additional metadata associated with a person which can create more specific content relationships across your site. These may include:

  1. Specialty and/or Expertise: Often referred to as Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)—people with particular working or academic knowledge of a topic or theme—this key piece of metadata can be used in a variety of ways to boost a person’s particular relationship, importance, or influence on a website’s content.
  2. Working Groups, Councils, and/or Committees: Common within Associations or other member-based organization, a person’s specific role and contributions within various groups (whether internal or external, or topic- or governance-based) can power more specific and useful logic to display relational content.
  3. Location: Typically this attribute refers to the physical place a person is located or works within. Sometimes it may apply as a more broad term of a person’s region of influence or oversight, or expertise. In either case, location can inform their relationship to topics, content, and or departments, but it may also create a unique relationship to a website user’s location as well—unlocking additional personalization options.

These are just three possible additional metadata attributes of a People taxonomy that will work together to unlock new features and capabilities of your website and its content.

New Metadata, New Possibilities

With any taxonomy axis, if you expand its metadata and attributes you can expand the features and experiences that rely on it. Here are just a few ways we can expand your site’s usefulness by making use of an updated People taxonomy axis.

Pew Charitable Trusts' search page where a user searched "Penguins" and there are related projects, topics, and people in the Related Results card.
Pew Charitable Trusts' search page where a user searched "Penguins" and there are related projects, topics, and people in the Related Results card.
  1. Searching and Browsing: With new metadata and attributes, each piece can be used as a facet to give your audiences more granular control in their searches. For instance, you could enable a search by specialty or expertise both in a people-based directory search or within a content-based search (e.g. global website search). Also, this new axis data could help drive the search logic and surface key featured or related items within a global or content search.

    Global search within The Pew Charitable Trusts’ website makes good use of this concept and promotes People alongside other items in their Related Result Card next to the search listing.

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  3. Relational Content Display: Similar to powering search logic, this new axis can also inform display logic with new content relationships. For instance, on a topic page you may wish to dynamically display a listing of recent or related content tagged with the given topic. With experts now in your People axis, you could tag content with the given topic /and/ authored by a related SME, so it displays more often or in a higher priority. The relationship between expertise, topic, and people all now work together to make display logic more accurate and relevant to your website’s audiences. The same approach could work for location-based pages where you might surface people or content and if that content is influenced by a person’s location metadata, they or their content could be given priority in display as well.
  4. Personalization: Many of our clients use personalized content — often in newsletters or other email communications. If your website offers options or settings that help tailor this type of content (e.g. opting-in to topics or types of content to receive via email), you now have opportunities to offer some (if not all) of the expanded People axis items to them as well. Letting audiences select specific content based on an author’s expertise or what working groups they’re in can foster and increase engagement because content is now more specific to audiences’ interests. This kind of personalization is not limited to email. Content listings, search results, etc. could all be tailored based on similar personalization preferences and their relationship to the People axis. By using the relationship between the location of the audience member and your new People location metadata, you can influence what content is displayed for a specific website visitor where they might be located. This helps display more relevant and regional content without the need for them to take action.

Read more of our thoughts on personalization

With just a few key additions to your People taxonomy, you can easily improve your visitors’ experience across your site in many useful ways. The possibilities are only limited by your creativity, as seen with architecture firm sshape’s people bios. They have structured fields which add some personality and complement their brand and voice.

A person bio on Sshape.com with structured taxonomy fields like "THE OFFICE (UK) OR THE OFFICE (US)?" that add personality to their staff bios.

Taxonomy can help you create better search and personalization for your website by organizing your content. Utilizing a taxonomy axis, like the People axis, you can take advantage of attributes and metadata from your staff to craft content that increases engagement with your audiences. By leveraging data like a person's division/department, authored content, job title, specialty, committees, and location, you can offer your audiences more relevant content tailored to their specific interests.

If you’re looking for new ways to improve and implement your website’s taxonomy for a better user experience, reach out to discuss how we can help your organization.

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