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Understanding taxonomy


From:

CMS Fundamentals

with James Williamson

Video: Understanding taxonomy

In our last movie, we talked about metadata and how it can help add organization to your content and assist the CMS in managing it. Taxonomy is another tool for organizing content and assisting CMS functionality. Essentially, taxonomy is a way to classify information in a specific, hierarchical structure. This is a little bit easier to understand when it's visualized. Let's say that you're creating a blog about healthy eating. The content on the blog is likely to reflect that focus. Making it easier to categorize the site's content, you might come up with terms like 'lunch', and 'chicken', 'vegetables', 'recipes', 'dinner', 'meat', 'eggplant', and all the rest of these words we've got here.
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  1. 2m 44s
    1. Welcome
      1m 0s
    2. What CMS means for this course
      1m 44s
  2. 22m 52s
    1. What is a CMS?
      2m 47s
    2. The evolution of CMSs
      4m 4s
    3. CMS types
      6m 7s
    4. Basic CMS capabilities
      5m 4s
    5. When is a CMS right for you?
      4m 50s
  3. 1h 23m
    1. Comparing CMSs
      4m 28s
    2. Core features to research
      4m 41s
    3. Commonly overlooked issues
      4m 12s
    4. Properly assessing needs
      4m 39s
    5. Knowing when to seek assistance
      4m 15s
    6. Choosing a CMS for designers
      4m 45s
    7. Choosing a CMS for organizations
      4m 12s
    8. The pros and cons of hosted solutions
      2m 58s
    9. Hosted solution examples
      5m 51s
    10. The pros and cons of open source solutions
      4m 36s
    11. Open source CMS examples
      7m 6s
    12. Proprietary CMSs
      7m 48s
    13. A closer look at Drupal
      5m 7s
    14. A closer look at Joomla!
      4m 0s
    15. A closer look at WordPress
      5m 33s
    16. Resources for comparing CMSs
      9m 2s
  4. 43m 58s
    1. What is an open source CMS?
      3m 4s
    2. What is a LAMP stack?
      2m 53s
    3. What are WebDAV and FTP?
      2m 39s
    4. What is MySQL?
      2m 24s
    5. WYSIWYG editors
      3m 56s
    6. Understanding users, groups, and permissions
      4m 12s
    7. What is metadata?
      5m 19s
    8. Understanding taxonomy
      3m 35s
    9. What is version control?
      4m 23s
    10. What are themes and templates?
      3m 30s
    11. What is SEO?
      4m 42s
    12. What are web analytics?
      3m 21s
  5. 36m 31s
    1. Content management as a process
      4m 38s
    2. Properly defining roles
      5m 3s
    3. Planning a content strategy
      4m 1s
    4. The importance of taxonomy
      5m 7s
    5. Controlling content lifecycle
      6m 22s
    6. Challenges for CMS migrations
      3m 45s
    7. Steps for migrating content
      4m 16s
    8. Avoiding distractions
      3m 19s
  6. 2m 24s
    1. Additional resources
      2m 24s

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Watch the Online Video Course CMS Fundamentals
3h 11m Beginner Apr 06, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In CMS Fundamentals, James Williamson defines content management systems (CMSs) and explains their role in web site development. The course demonstrates the different CMS solutions available today, including WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla; reviews CMS terminology and best practices; and shows how to develop a content management strategy. Guidelines are also included for evaluating a potential CMS, whether hosted or self-hosted, open source or proprietary, and choosing a CMS based on a specific need or focus.

Topics include:
  • Defining and understanding a CMS
  • Understanding taxonomy
  • Assessing an organization or company's needs
  • Comparing content management systems
  • Planning a content strategy
  • Controlling content lifecycle
  • Migrating between CMSs
  • Understanding users, groups, and permissions
  • Using web analytics
Subject:
Web
Author:
James Williamson

Understanding taxonomy

In our last movie, we talked about metadata and how it can help add organization to your content and assist the CMS in managing it. Taxonomy is another tool for organizing content and assisting CMS functionality. Essentially, taxonomy is a way to classify information in a specific, hierarchical structure. This is a little bit easier to understand when it's visualized. Let's say that you're creating a blog about healthy eating. The content on the blog is likely to reflect that focus. Making it easier to categorize the site's content, you might come up with terms like 'lunch', and 'chicken', 'vegetables', 'recipes', 'dinner', 'meat', 'eggplant', and all the rest of these words we've got here.

Now while these are descriptive, they're not really doing much for you in terms of organization. However, what if you rearranged these terms? At the top you could put Recipes, and under that add categories for Dinner and Lunch. Each of those could have subcategories, such as Meat and Vegetables. Inside those, you could go even deeper with individual meat and vegetable ingredients. In addition to the defined structure, you could have an optional descriptive terminology, like low-calorie. This organizational structure is often referred to as a taxonomy, and it's the backbone of how a CMS organizes and structures sites. In most cases, when building a site a CMS will allow you to create at a minimum sections and categories.

The sections are often used to create or describe pages or sections within the site, and categories are often used to identify the content within a page or section. Although it's tempting to confuse metadata and taxonomies, think of it like this: metadata allows you to assign descriptive data to content, while taxonomies give you the controlled vocabulary to do so. For smaller sites or sites with a limited focus, it probably won't be too difficult to create a taxonomy. However, for larger sites or sites with multiple areas of focus, you're going to need to put in some time to create the necessary taxonomy, or in some cases taxonomies, to help properly organize the site.

For large organizations, it's actually quite common to have an individual or a whole team that's responsible for the creation and maintenance of site taxonomies. It is much easier to create taxonomies now than it has been in the past. Most larger content management systems now come with taxonomy-building tools or plug-ins that allow you to access the content management system's default taxonomy, then help you create your own. There are also many outside vendors and tools that you can use to help automate the process of generating vocabularies, or reviewing them to ensure that your taxonomies are structured in a way that assists your site's mission.

Most of the automated services rely on data mining, and that's the process of indexing your site's content to then create associated vocabularies. If you want to research some of these outside tools, check out the list of tools and services at the Taxonomy Community of practice site. These will give you a good idea of some of the tools and services available. The Dublin Core Initiative also has a list of open-source taxonomy and metadata tools, and you can find that at dublincore.org/tools. These are open-source tools that you can use or integrate into your CMS to help build taxonomies and create metadata.

Finally, I want to mention that often the hard work of categorizing an industry or vertical market has already been done for you. There is lot of common vocabularies already on the web that you can use as a logical starting point for your own projects. A great site to learn more about some of these is taxonomywarehouse.com.

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