Project Description

Project Description



The nitty-gritty of classifying and organizing content.


What it is.

Taxonomy is how you organize, name and classify information. It is the foundation of the navigation.

How it’s used.

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.

Common design taxonomies.

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


  • Understand what a taxonomy is

  • Learn some types of taxonomies

  • Practice creating a taxonomy for a website

Tips & Tricks

  • Start by taking an inventory of all the site elements.
  • Write every link or category on a post it note to sort and organize those until you have a logical taxonomy
  • Try to simplify using hierarchy and condensing groups as much as possible
  • Beware of personal biases, don’t leave something out because you don’t value it. Try and find a place for everything.


How to do it.

You need to understand all the information that will be on a website in order to create logical groups and subgroups for it. You’ll also have to understand the terminology users have for those categories. If you’re working in a niche market, this is a good time to whip out the 3×5 cards and do a little card sorting with your users.

The resulting taxonomy can look as complicated as a sitemap or as simple as an outline. The goal is to show how all information on the website will be organized.

Your Assignment

Create a new taxonomy.

In a real world case study, create a taxonomy and IA that simplifies this website.

  1. Take an inventory of all the site elements.
  2. Try to simplify using hierarchy and condensing groups as much as possible.
  3. Don’t leave anything out! You can reorder and combine sections and topics, but you can’t delete something entirely.


Create a simple outline of the new taxonomy in a pdf and share in the comments and/or on Dribbble and Twitter #100daysdesign.