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Creating a label & tag strategy (BP)
This best practice provides recommendations to help create a strategy for using labels within your digital workplace solution.
When creating a label strategy for your digital workplace content, you need to:
- Understand the purpose of labels
- Create a taxonomy or groups of labels
What is the purpose of a label?
Labels are very effective when used as search filters, so it's good to start out your label design process thinking "How would we like to filter our search results?" Articulating the goal of labelling will help ensure that the labels are doing their job. Goals that may influence label design include:
- Organizing: When you have a large amount of content of various types and need to organize it in more ways than you can get with just space, page, and folder hierarchies.
- Establishing Common Ground: Using labels to help create a common nomenclature for content across the organization
- Spanning Group Boundaries: When you need to share content horizontally between and across teams and groups
How should labels be grouped?
- A group may be redundant and unnecessary if the content is already segmented as part of the site architecture. For example, suppose you have content that you want to be segmented both by functional area (HR, IT, etc.) and by location (New York, Sydney, London, etc.). If your site structure already separates out content by one of those, then you only need labels for the other.
- There is no need to create groups for spaces or Igloo content types (blogs, documents, forums, etc.) since these filters are already available in Advanced Search.
- Groups are often based on time or sequence, location, topic, form, or business function. Keep in mind that labels will be visible to all members so it is important that the groups be obvious and intuitive to everyone. Some groups will signify who should use the labels (Corp Comms, IT, HR, etc.). If labels are to be used by everyone, group them according to their purpose rather than in a catch-all "miscellaneous" group.
How many groups and labels should there be?
Igloo can support unlimited numbers of groups and labels, but there are some practical constraints. It is human nature that the more choices you present, the more confusing and time consuming it will be for the user to choose the proper labels when publishing content
There are also some constraints in how labels are viewed. For example, clicking the Add Label button presents a screen with all labels listed in a single box. If there are many labels to display, users will have to scroll their browser screen down in order to see them all. Similarly, when selecting labels as search filters, users will be presented with a scroll bar if the group they open has more labels than can be displayed at one time within the box.
What are some good rules of thumb for creating labels?
- Minimize the number to choose from. Humans can typically handle only 12-15 items in a list before encountering difficulty in choosing.
- Keep the labels within a group at the same conceptual level where possible. For example, having a single Location group containing labels such as "San Francisco," "United States," and "North America" can be jarring and confusing, especially when there are many labels and they are listed in alphabetical order.
- Be as specific as possible in your label descriptions. For example, don’t use “Presentation” when “IT Presentation” or “HR Presentation” might be a more accurate description.
- Labels should be balanced. In other words, try to have roughly the same amount of content tagged by each label. There is something obviously out of whack if you find 90% of content is falling under one label while other labels have only one or two items (or nothing at all).
How should groups and labels be ordered?
Igloo arranges labels alphabetically, but groups are displayed in the order they were created and cannot be changed short of deleting and recreating them. Therefore it is very important to consider group order before you expend much effort creating them. Here are some approaches to consider if order is important to you.
Strategies for ordering groups:
- Place groups intended for use by the entire enterprise at the top of the list and then create additional groups based on the size of the expected audience for each group, most popular to least popular.
- Place the most heavily used groups at the top.
- Place groups with the fewest labels at the top so that you maximize visible choices when users have to scroll to add labels.
Strategies for ordering labels within a group (other than alphabetical):
- Put a number in front of each label in order to force the order you want (e.g. 01-Jan, 02-Feb, 03-Mar, etc.).
- Use a colon to create subgroups. For example, if your legal team needs to label customer and vendor contracts, policies, white papers, and presentations, creating those labels as written would present them as:
But by using a colon to indicate subcategories, you can display them like this:
Documents: White Paper
When should labels be mandatory?
Mandatory labeling guarantees that all content will be labeled, but it also puts pressure on the group/label taxonomy to ensure that the set of defined labels is rich enough to encompass all content that might be created. It can sometimes be useful to have a label called "no good label" or "no applicable label" so that there is a catch-all option available. Someone responsible for label maintenance should then routinely examine any content containing this label to see if new labels need to be created.
How are labels used in Advanced Search?
Advanced Search allows the user to filter search results by space, Igloo content type (blog, discussion, wiki, document, etc.), or label. Bear in mind that selecting more than one label filter joins them with AND. So for example, selecting the label "November" and the label "2017" will restrict the results to only content containing both labels.
How can we know if the label structure we have is useful?
You might consider piloting your label taxonomy before deploying it. Divide your existing content, and use part of it to develop the labels using card sorting or other taxonomy creation methods. Use the other portion to test the labels you have defined. You should allow for about 3-4 items per label. Test both the producers (assigning labels) and consumers (using labels).
Criteria to look for include:
- Is it intuitive? Test: Users move quickly to the content they need without going down blind alleys
- Is it unambiguous? Test: Publishers can immediately identify what labels should be assigned without having to spend time considering alternatives.
- Is it consistent? Test: Within any group, users move quickly to the label they want without having to read the entire list systematically.
- Is it meaningful? Test: Users are not surprised by the type of content they find.
- Is it balanced? Test: There are no labels that are heavily used with large amounts of undifferentiated content while others exist with little or no content.
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