Strategy and Consulting

Enterprise Taxonomy Best Practices

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Enterprise taxonomies are often developed without standard rules or processes. This creates a less-than-ideal environment for content management, particularly during redesigns and migrations. Taxonomy classifies and organizes information, enabling population of the content management system with complete and consistent values.
Thinking about taxonomy as the foundation for enterprise information architecture, content relationships and tagging structure is critical to successful content management. Failure to establish this foundation can create chaos. Content can be incorrectly or inconsistently labeled and categorized, leading to challenges with tracking and findability. Rules and processes that haven’t been standardized or consistently applied to data can lead to different content managers storing and managing parts of the taxonomy independently with different tools.
Consider the following when developing an enterprise taxonomy:
– Establish an enterprise taxonomy function that will lead efforts to build and manage the taxonomy. A centralized taxonomy function allows for collaboration and consistent taxonomy management. The centralized taxonomy function should own the day-to-day taxonomy management as well as establish rules and processes.
– Consistently organize content to support information architecture, content relationships and tagging structure for optimal usability and findability. Users expect to find the same information in the same place across digital properties. For site management, proper organization supports identification, tracking, and utilization of related assets across output channels.
– Validate the taxonomy with users. Labels, or tags, are used to identify content so it can be efficiently managed across the enterprise. Information structure and labels should be tested to ensure they meet the user’s mental model and revised as needed.
– Use a single tool to manage your enterprise taxonomy. Multiple databases and spreadsheets result in multiple taxonomies that are challenging to manage. A single tool enables access to the taxonomy for efficient updates and maintenance.
– All enterprise assets – digital and non-digital assets (marketing materials such as flyers, brochures, images, etc.) – need to use the same taxonomy. Consistent categorization of all enterprise assets increases findability.

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