Simple Taxonomy

Are you a Clicker or a Searcher?

Success in creating a productive and useful Corporate Portal hinges on user adoption.  If you cannot drive user adoption, you will fail miserably.  Conversely, if you make the portal intuitive, productive, and very easy to use, you will win the hearts and minds of the masses.

In any organization – especially larger ones – people tend to use different “language” when describing things they do day-to-day.   For example, one person may “submit a helpdesk ticket”, while others might “send a helpdesk request”, and still others will “email helpdesk”.   These are all, potentially, ways of saying the same thing.

Likewise, people will “categorize” things differently.   Meaning, they may prefer to see Policies and Procedures in a “Policies and Procedures” category, while others may look for them in “Links”.

Though there may be many opinions as to the language that should be used to describe certain content or categories, there are essentially only TWO kinds of portal users:  Clickers and Searchers.


Clickers are those people who like to look at your web-based user interface (UI) and click around to navigate.   They like to explore and their eyes are typically drawn to fancy type and/or hyperlinks.   Visually appealing colors and sections attract these users (but we’re not talking about design yet).   Additionally, these users look for keywords subconsciously.  They want to click on words that take them to what they were looking for.   They will click around until the path of keywords takes them to their destination.    (or until they get bored and leave).


Searchers don’t like to explore.  They come to the portal with a purpose, type in their query, and expect to be directed to the appropriate content instantly.   If the search takes too long, or their desired link is too far down the results list, you will lose them.   However, if their context search returns relevant results quickly, you have won them over to search another day!

What’s all the “buzz” about these buzz words?

In order to build a successful portal, your information and navigation have to make sense to BOTH, the Clickers and the Searchers.   This is done through Information Architecture and Taxonomy design.  Many people are intimidated by these terms, but there’s no need to be.   Allow me to break it down.

Information Architecture” is just a fancy term for “organizing, or putting structure around, your information in a way that makes sense to the end users”.

Taxonomy” is similar.  Taxonomy means, “the science of classifying information”, typically into “Categories”.

A similar term is “Folksonomy”, which means the same thing as Taxonomy, only it’s a collaborative approach.  This means that you, in conjunction with your end users, come up with classifications for the information together.   The biggest difference between Taxonomy and Folksonomy is that Folksonomy uses “tags”, as used in blogging and other social media.

Now that the “Techie Stuff” is out of the way, let’s get some actual work done!

What is Card Sorting?

Card Sorting is a common used for classifying and organizing information.   People use card sorting, primarily for the following reasons:

  1. To categorize content across an organization
  2. To understand how end users would classify certain content
  3. To build a more intuitive user experience through integrated categories, navigation, and taxonomy.

Using your list of goals from my Organize your Feedback post, which you should have refined over the last few posts, you will now begin a Card Sorting exercise to get your arms around the content inventory you have developed thus far.

Rather than go into detail about how to do this, you may want to bookmark a link to, which has a great Card Sorting Section.  Try using this resource, in conjunction with the materials you’ve been working on (Goals, Content Inventory, and Categories), to categories all of the content you’ve collected.

Want to keep it clean?

There are also some cool tools online to help you do this. has one such tool.   NOTE:  I am, in no way, affiliated with  I just thought it was a cool tool to share with you.

Wrap it up!

Once you complete your card sorting exercises, you should have a pretty good grasp of the following:

  1. Content Inventory for use in your next Portal
  2. Ranking and popularity for requested content goals
  3. Taxonomy (categories) for your content structure
  4. A list of the most popular web part requests for your home page
  5. A list of the most popular web part requests for your departmental pages.

All in all, this is a GREAT start to building an excellent portal.   Create “final” documents of the 5 items above and save them!   We will use this content throughout the remainder of your portal project!

Congratulations!  The hard part is done!

Everything else is technical (logical).   You’ll see… stay tuned!!

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