IL2007: Developing a Taxonomy

Building a taxonomy, Kathryn Breininger & Mary Whittaker, Librarians, The Boeing Company

  • Determine requirements: 
    • what objective does the taxonomy meet? 
    • What problem does it solve? 
    • What technical aspects need to be considered to develop the taxonomy? 
    • What kind of information are users most often looking for? 
    • Where do they find it? 
    • What about the process is frustrating for the user?
  • Identify concepts: 
    • What are the source materials? 
    • Inventory and analyze content, and analyze how users access content. 
    • Identify existing taxonomies – do not duplicate the taxonomic wheel!
  • Develop draft taxonomy:
    • Establish common rules, and stay focused on the institutional goals
    • Reconcile terminology issues, including term structure and granularity
    • Start broad, not deep – 7 to 10 major categories.
    • Work from the bottom up and top down – meet somewhere in the middle for best results
  • Review draft with users and experts:
    • Give them something to review
    • Conduct usability studies to see if the structure is working
    • Build consensus where possible, and record all decisions
    • Find:  Places where taxonomy is too deep, places where it has gaps, places where users are lost, places where users are suggesting additional depth
  • Refine the taxonomy
    • Review and refine, incorporating all feedback
    • But know when to quit!  Granularity is relative to the context and universe of other resources
    • Establish test criteria to ensure that goals are met (and so you know when to quit)
  • Apply Taxonomy to content
    • Provide guidelines for application
    • Deploy the product
  • Manage and maintain
    • Establish ownership
    • Establish governance
    • Create change-control processes
    • Develop a maintenance plan
    • Review content for new concepts
    • Develop feedback loop
    • Review and evaluate success criteria
    • Provide documentation for all stakeholders
  • Testing: 
    • Does the taxonomy return appropriate search results? 
    • Does the taxonomy match user expectations for results? 
    • Does the taxonomy support the initial needs?

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