Domain – Kingdom – Phylum – Class – Order – Family – Genus – Species
You knew it at one time. You also learned another one: the Dewey Decimal Classification System. These are some of the most well-known classification systems on the planet. Dewey Decimal taxonomy has been used for more than 130 years and is still in use by more than 200,000 libraries worldwide. There’s a reason – it makes sense. Taxonomy represents a structured system of classification, thus providing a unified vocabulary. Taxonomy is centrally managed and consistently applied to content.
SharePoint 2010 provides this natively using Keywords which gives the power of tag-based classification to individual users. Users can tag content using any Keywords they wish.
They can use their own tags to describe a Page, video, document, image, or any other piece of content. Your user has the option to make each Keyword public or private. If the user selects to keep a Keyword private, only that specific user sees how they tagged content.
To manage all taxonomy and folksonomy capabilities, SharePoint 2010 introduces a new multi-faceted, tiered classification system across your entire SharePoint infrastructure called Managed Metadata, or Managed Metadata Services. Managed Metadata supports both a formal taxonomy and an informal folksonomy.
SharePoint provides the tools for associating these words with any type of content. Users with Internet Explorer can even tag websites which are not even part of your SharePoint solution.
Terms are split into two types: Managed Terms which represent taxonomy and Enterprise Keywords which represent folksonomy. Managed Terms can be organized in a parent-child hierarchy. Terms may be predefined by entering your org’s tags into the SharePoint Term Store management interface, or by uploading an Excel spreadsheet populated with your tags. Term Sets can even have specific managers which can add, update, and delete terms.
For example, your org may elect to have one person manage the Terms related to Government Affairs while different people manage the Terms related to medical conditions. Your org can structure the parent-child hierarchy using your information. The Term Set structure can be as simple or as complex as you need.
A word of caution: start simple. Do not make it cumbersome for your content authors to appropriately tag your content. Make it easy. We have seen orgs start with overly complicated taxonomy structures which are improperly used.
A simple classification system correctly applied is infinitely more powerful than a complex system used improperly.
Enterprise Keywords, on the other hand, are all stored in a single keyword set that does not support a hierarchal structure. Enterprise Keywords do not require specific permissions to manage. You can allow any user to add Keywords. Members, Volunteers, Donors, Board Members, Chapter Leaders, Registered Users, or anyone you wish.
Classification also allows you to relate content to users. Users can enjoy a highly personalized experience when logged into your Site. For example, users may indicate an interest in Government Affairs within their profile. Content may also be tagged as relating to Government Affairs.
SharePoint can use this information to display content related to Government Affairs to this user on any Page you wish. You can configure Web Parts to show other articles, upcoming events, products, or any other content that has been tagged with Government Affairs.
Suggestions are provided when adding tags
Classification also provides the ability to sort and filter based on how content has been tagged. If users are uploading documents into your SharePoint intranet and are appropriately tagging the content as they upload, it becomes very easy to apply a filter and show all documents in a library with a certain tag.
Assuming users are tagging content, it’s easy to predefine List Views that show only Items that have been tagged with certain Keywords or Terms.
Let’s assume that we have an association of automobile owners. Our formal taxonomy might have a Term Set which specifically describes various car components: safety, price, rating, manufacturer, and color. As staff create and upload documents to the internal research Document Library, these documents would be tagged with the various topics. A View that shows only documents which have been tagged as “safety” makes life easier for anyone looking for documents related to auto safety.
You have spent and still spend a lot of time trying to organize the content of your website into logical buckets. Afterwards, you put a nice navigation bar in place to provide your Site users with a very simple and intuitive way to go find content in your Site. Everyone can now find anything they want anywhere in your Site, right? If so, congratulations! You have a perfect Information Architecture and a perfect navigation structure that needs no further explanation or clarification! You have achieved what no one else ever has! It’s time to retire!
If you are like the rest of us, you could use additional ways for users to find the information they need when they need it. You did put the navigation in place. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a way for users to actually navigate the content using the new taxonomy you have in place? SharePoint 2010 offers Managed Metadata features which make finding any needed content even easier.
Search refinements are covered in greater detail in the Search chapter, just know SharePoint 2010 provides Term Filtering for both Managed Terms and Enterprise Keywords on search results. This works off the shelf with no required customization.
Search Results Page
Managed Metadata is associated with content through the use of Site Columns. This means it’s very easy to leverage the Managed Metadata using any of the native capabilities in SharePoint, such as the Content Query Web Part (CQWP).
The CQWP is one of the Swiss Army Web Parts. You can accomplish many content aggregation tasks with just this single Web Part.
The CQWP allows you to use Managed Metadata fields to create very Amazon.com-like behavior within your Pages. If you are looking at an Article Page related to automobile safety, you can use the CQWP to show “Other pages related to Auto Safety” or “Upcoming Events related to Auto Safety.”
That has not changed. Even in the language of the web, we like our content served up specifically for us. We don’t want to wade through hundreds of links. If we express what we’re interested in, we expect that information to be used for providing us relevant information.
Using the social features in SharePoint 2010, users can specify tags they are interested in. These tags may be Managed Terms (taxonomy) or Enterprise Keywords (folksonomy). Either way, SharePoint will serve up content tagged with terms users are interested in on their Newsfeed. This is individual personalization based on Keywords!
Personalization can also be accomplished using SharePoint Audiences. Audiences are groups of users you have created based on similar attributes.
For example, you can create an Audience called “Volunteers Interested in Auto Safety.” Users in this SharePoint Audience have at some point indicated “Auto Safety” as an interest within their User Profile.
The ability to target content towards a specific Audience is available in many SharePoint Web Parts. This level of personalization is quickly becoming the norm on websites, and can only fully be truly successful and relevant after a carefully planned and managed taxonomy structure is in place.
- Relating content to other pieces of content.
- Relating content to people (personalization).
- Aggregating content from multiple locations into a single display.
- Improving search.
Taxonomy is the formal, hierarchical structure of tags which are usually managed by staff. Folksonomy is similar to taxonomy, but users create the tags. Members, Volunteers, Donors, Board Members, Chapter Leaders, Registered Users, or anyone you allow can add tags to your folksonomy. SharePoint offers both, and both are very important.
In SharePoint 2010, Terms are your taxonomy, and Keywords are your folksonomy.
Personalization can also be achieved using SharePoint Audiences. Audiences are logical groups of users that you define with similar attributes.