It was so much fun emceeing the Taming Taxonomy, Tips and Tools for Creating Structure with the User in Mind LAUX Meetup. We have a friendly community of talented professionals and eager learners and I’m loving the collective intelligence. This particular talk is geared toward novices or mid-level taxonomists or Information Architects.

The night started out with Jessica DuVerneay of TUG, The Understanding Group, as she walked us through an entertaining taxonomy case study. It was fascinating to see the sequence of Jess’ approach to create a more orderly set of labels. She used well researched personas and listened to hours of interviews to identify common terminology.

If taxonomy intimidates you, just watch the video and download the slides. Jess breaks it down with a clear process and creates a very basic structure including identifying synonyms and polyhierarchy. This language uniformity has many applications including sitemaps, content inventory, navigation structures, wireframes, node tagging, content strategy, tagging, faceted search filters, and SEO.

Alberta Soranzo talked about how taxonomies are collections of facets, which are created by organizing concepts into categories. She also explained that card sorting is one of the best ways to identify categories by having controlled tests with groups of users to create categories.  Card sorting is broken down into a series of answers to questions like: Why use card sorting? How does it work? and What’s the difference between open and closed card sorting? and How do you design tests?

Alberta ended the presentation by shocking the crowd with a surprising Predictive Cognitive Semantic Analysis (PCSA). You don’t want to miss this so set aside about 45 minutes to watch the video, download the slides and see the resources for tools and books below.


• Taxonomy helps consistently and meaningfully organize words
• Be strategic & thoughtful about how you approach your taxonomy creation
• Search analytics, SME, and user research can help you understand how users talk about things
• Taxonomy is NOT navigation
• Branding, culture, & business needs have a place in deciding how to say what you say
• Remember to consider all of the cross channel places your users might see the taxonomy
• Jump in and try it, it’s not scary, it can be fun, and adds tangible value / ROI to a project


Taming Taxonomy by Jessica DuVerneay and Alberta Soranzo


Taming Taxonomy by Jessica DuVerneay and Alberta Soranzo




@jduverneay                              @albertatrebla

Jessica DuVerneay

Alberta Soranzo