Content Organization Methods Comparison

I wrote a short comparison of a few IA tools: authority lists, thesauri, and faceted approaches. I kept it pretty simple so that it could be given out to clients. It also includes "full-text search" as a method, since my client was in favor of using just search as an interface into 4000-5000 content items. I was trying to make the case that additional work on developing a thesaurus (at least) would improve the site in a number of ways.

Any comments are welcome. Word .doc, about 90k.

Content Organization Methods

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.


I like the dialog method of making the point. I could imagine the equivalent for the full-text search:

User: Iím looking for information about DCA.

Response: Let's see, I've got a few hundred documents that mention DCA, here ya go. Ya know, sometimes that means Direct Chip Attach and sometimes it means other things, I'll just give you all this stuff. You don't mind sorting through it, right?


That's great! It's like asking a well-informed, but literal-minded beaurocrat for help.

I've been meaning to add dialogues for the other sections, since it seems to make the point pretty well. Thanks for the suggestion.

Solutions too

Just rapping with some co-workers about this and I realized it'd be nice to do this from the other way around. Start with something clients can relate to, like a business problem, a user scenario, or a user interface, and show how to get there using these schemes.

I've done something like this using screen shots, but didn't include the comparison information you have, which is handy. Someday I'll have some time to compile these ideas and post 'em.

I like it! Some questions to ponder.

Andrew, I like your document. It conveys very concisely the benefits of using a controlled vocabulary.

I think your example, "Full text + Taxonomy" is really a thesaurus. Most people probably do taxonomies to show only parent-child relationships, but your indication of related terms and synonyms makes it more than just a taxonomy. Your example of presenting a facet-based system of classification is an interesting approach as well. I wonder which offers more modes of access, the taxonomy/thesaurus that shows relationships and synonyms or the facet based system that shows hierarchical relationships under three categories?

It's possible, in my opinion, to utilize the best of all worlds using thesauri and faceted classification. Whether or not it's practical is another issue. I once designed a theoretical index of art images that used different controlled vocabularies to describe a rich set of facets. It might be overkill for most web applications to take that type of approach, but starting with a collection of facets as access points, you can apply provide richer indexing and therefore more sophisticated/more relevant retrieval if you combine the two methods.

Just a thought to ponder where that type of approach fits into possible applications. At my job, we don't do anything so extensive -- we mainly use our controlled vocabulary for indexing on topic/subject -- but I can see a form of this being valuable.

It's really hard to figure o

It's really hard to figure out the right terms for these things: taxonomy and thesaurus seem to be synonyms in many places. It seems to me that "thesaurus" might be slightly less jargon-sounding for the client, so I've changed "taxonomy" back to "thesaurus."

You're right that it's possible to use a thesaurus plus facets, in fact that's excactly what we're doing on this project. It doesn't seem like overkill, given the unpredictablility of the content we're going to have in the system. In a way it simplifies content creation.

I think it will be very similar to your proposed images system, with some "facets" behaving like real facets, but some behaving more like simple heirarchies. For example, printing stencils (used in microprocessor packaging) could be associated with several Technologies: Flip-Chip, Ball Grid Array, etc.

But printing stencils are always (I think) made out of Silicon, so the Materials "facet" is really only a simple heirarchy. It makes sense for us, since most "things" in the content database will be only made out of one Material, but will be associated with many Technologies.