Taxonomy is how you organize, name and classify information. It is the foundation of the navigation.
In IA, it’s the organization of all the site content into sections, categories and groups.
Taxonomy is a fancy word for organizing by type. It’s something we do all the time and it is evident all around us. How do you organize your kitchen? Do you throw all the food, dishes and utensils together into a single cupboard? Or do you put dishes in one cupboard, utensils and flatware in another, and food somewhere else? That’s a taxonomy.
How about the clothes in your dresser, do you have a drawer for socks and underwear, another for shirts and another for pants? That is also a taxonomy.
Here are other ways we see taxonomies at work all around us:
- How files are stored in a filing cabinet
- How books are organized in a bookstore
- How products are classified on Amazon
- How music is tagged and cataloged on Pandora
We group and categorize as naturally as we see patterns and make sense of our surroundings. So there is nothing magical about taxonomies in websites and applications.
In IA, there are a number of well-used classification systems that are probably familiar to you:
Alphabetical = Contacts entries are listed by first or last name.
Chronological = Twitter feed loads newest tweets at the top.
Geographical = Flixter organizes movies according to what is playing near you.
Topic = Facebook feed is based on topics you’ve Liked in the past.
Task = Jira groups different kinds of things you need to do together
Audience = Meetup shows you groups with similar interests as those you’ve indicated
Metaphor = iBooks creates a bookshelf-like interface