I love to organize—my shoes, my dresses, my old papers from school, pictures, my partner’s fishing lures and computer cords, and even the spices in my pantry. It’s a little embarrassing, but I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember. If I know about a drawer that is unorganized, I think about it.
In my early twenties, I applied for a job as a secretary for a company that made chairs for Starbucks (before they ruled the world). I lied and told them I had worked for years as a secretary, and somehow got the job.
My main task was to keep things organized. So perfect, right?
I got so into it. I created a complex filing system that categorized all data, and even used subcategories for my subcategories. But when I was asked to find specific information—such as a description and photo of one of the company’s products when my boss was speaking to a potential client on the phone—I took far too long to find the information.
By the time I was able to put the information on his desk, the call was long over. I couldn’t remember my super complicated system and eventually lost their entire database.
No small surprise: they fired my ass.
My failed secretarial experience taught me the very valuable lesson that systems and groupings of information need to be simple, solid and, most importantly, retrievable.
This truth most definitely applies to websites. You need to be able to group content within a website so that you can easily find information and make it simple for visitors to search through your site’s content. The way you choose to organize the content within a website is key to the user experience (UX) and can keep a site running efficiently.
If you are using a developer to build your site, you don’t have to understand all of the taxonomy details. But you do have to understand the overall idea that the content you generate needs to live inside of some kind of system so that you can retrieve it and integrate it into a page.
That’s where categories and tags come in.
WordPress has two very popular taxonomies that people use on a regular basis: categories and tags (in addition to the custom ones). Knowing this is powerful because it means when you create content, you know what grouping it’s filed with. This way, you can grow that page because content can be easily pulled in and out of a page.
Like categories, tags help organize the posts on your site, as well as provide searchable keywords that make it easier for users to find your content. Tags are simply keywords and phrases that are associated with each piece of content. For a single piece of content, they let the audience quickly understand the important concepts captured in the content. In aggregate, they provide a powerful way to spot recent trends by viewing the most popular tags.
These systems that people use to organize content on their website are called taxonomies. It’s one of those things that everyone use, but they do not know that they are using it. It’s a scary word but one that just means how you group your content.
Organizing still makes me super happy, but I have developed a focus on simple systems. One of the most important things that I do as a web designer and developer is organize their content. It often overwhelms them, but I let them just sit back and chat to me about what they do. Then, I’m able to come up with solid, simple systems that I’ve learned, over many years of experience and over many projects with a variety of clients—all building from that critical lesson I learned at 20: organize for efficient retrieval and use.
Want to learn more about organizing your content for a more powerful online presence? We’d love to have a conversation about your strategy. Schedule a time to talk or send us an email at email@example.com.