Taxonomies are used in conjunction with metadata and tagging strategies to effectively classify content – enabling it to be easily found, leveraged for personalization or used for related content display. Taxonomy work also requires a high tolerance for taxidermy jokes.

Taxonomy: A system for organizing content according to shared characteristics. The shared characteristics are often (but not always) organized into hierarchies. Taxonomies can be used to inform navigation, assist in search, and helps to define the information architecture of a site. Taxonomy-related deliverables could include a remediated taxonomy, which suggests changes to current state, or a taxonomy created “from scratch.”

Typical format: Microsoft Excel (for delivery)

Example: Remediated Taxonomy

Example: New Taxonomy


Taxonomy – Heuristic Evaluation: A series of specific questions used to evaluate the structure, labeling, taxonomy management and other elements of a taxonomy. It is used to understand current taxonomy landscape and ensure that entire taxonomy is considered – not just areas that are indicated as pain points.

Typical format: Microsoft Excel

Example: Taxonomy Heuristic Evaluation


Card Sorting Exercises: A method which is used to discover patterns in how users classify information. It reveals not only how they mentally categorize terms, but also what labels they use for the those categories. Exercise participants are asked to take a series of terms, group them into logical categories and then label each category. Resulting data will inform the refinement of taxonomy terms labels and term groupings – helping to finalize tagging hierarchies or navigation schemes.

Typical format: Microsoft Word (Report)

Example: Card Sort Report


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