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Taxonomy Testing & Usability. Joseph A. Busch. Agenda. Qualitative methods Quantitative methods. Qualitative taxonomy testing methods. Walk-through method— Show & explain. ABC Content Type. Competency. Industry. Service. Product Family. Audience. Line of Business.

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Presentation Transcript
  • Qualitative methods
  • Quantitative methods
walk through method show explain
Walk-through method—Show & explain


Content Type




Product Family


Line of Business



Case Study

Contract & Warranty



News & Event

Product Information




Technical Note



White Paper

Other Content Type

Business & Finance

Interpersonal Development

IT Professionals Technical Training

IT Professionals Training & Certification

PC Productivity

Personal Computing Proficiency

Banking & Finance









Retail / Wholesale



Other Industries

Assessment, Design & Implementation


Enterprise Support

Client Support

Managed Lifecycle

Asset Recovery & Recycling



MP3 Players










Non-Dell Brands

  • All
  • Business
  • Dell Employee
  • Education
  • Gaming Enthusiast
  • Home
  • Investor
  • Job Seeker
  • Media
  • Partner
  • Shopper
    • First Time
    • Experienced
    • Advanced
  • Supplier


Home & Home Office


Government, Education & Healthcare

Medium & Large Business

Small Business






Latin America & Caribbean

United States

walk through method editorial rules consistency check
Walk-through method— Editorial rules consistency check
  • Abbreviations
  • Ampersands
  • Capitalization
  • General…, More…, Other…
  • Languages & character sets
  • Length limits
  • Multiple parents
  • Plural vs. singular form
  • Scope notes
  • Serial comma
  • Sources of terms
  • Spaces
  • Synonyms & acronyms
  • Term order (Alphabetic or …)
  • Term label order (Direct vs. inverted)

usability testing method task based card sorting 1
Usability testing method—Task-based card sorting (1)
  • 15 representative questions were selected
    • Perspective of various organizational units
    • Most frequent website searches
    • Most frequently accessed website content
    • Correct answers to the questions were agreed in advance by team.
  • 15 users were tested
    • Did not work for the organization
    • Represented target audiences
  • Testers were asked “where would you look for …”
    • “under which facet… Topic, Commodity, or Geography?”
    • Then, “… under which category?”
    • Then, “…under which sub-category?”
    • Tester choices were recorded
  • Testers were asked to “think aloud”
    • Notes were taken on what they said
  • Pre- and post questions were asked
    • Tester answers were recorded
usability testing method task based card sorting 2
Usability testing method—Task-based card sorting (2)

3. What is the average farm income level in your state?

  • Topics
  • Commodities
  • 3. Geographic Coverage

1. Topics

1.1 Agricultural Economy

1.2 Agriculture-Related Policy

1.3 Diet, Health & Safety

1.4 Farm Financial Conditions

1.5 Farm Practices & Management

1.6 Food & Agricultural Industries

1.7 Food & Nutrition Assistance

1.8 Natural Resources & Environment

1.9 Rural Economy

1.10 Trade & International Markets

1.4 Farm Financial Conditions

1.4.1 Costs of Production

1.4.2 Commodity Outlook

1.4.3 Farm Financial Management & Performance

1.4.4 Farm Income

1.4.5 Farm Household Financial Well-being

1.4.6 Lenders & Financial Markets

1.4.7 Taxes

analysis of task based card sorting 2
Analysis of task-based card sorting (2)
  • In 80% of the trials users looked for information under the categories that we expected them to look for it.
  • Breaking-up topics into facets makes it easier to find information, especially information related to commodities.
analysis of task based card sorting 3
Analysis of task-based card sorting (3)

Possible change required.

Change required.

Policy of “Traceability” needs to be clarified. Use quasi-synonyms.

On these trials, only 50% looked in the right category, & only 27-36% agreed on the category.

Possible error in categorization of this question because 64% thought the answer should be “Commodity Trade.”

user satisfaction method card sort questionnaire 1
User satisfaction method—Card Sort Questionnaire (1)
  • Was it easy, medium or difficult to choose the appropriate Topic?
      • Easy
      • Medium
      • Difficult
  • Was it easy, medium or difficult to choose the appropriate Commodity?
      • Easy
      • Medium
      • Difficult
  • Was it easy, medium or difficult to choose the appropriate Geographic Coverage?
      • Easy
      • Medium
      • Difficult
user interface survey which search ui is better
User interface survey— Which search UI is ‘better’?
  • Criteria
    • User satisfaction
    • Success completing tasks
    • Confidence in results
    • Fewer dead ends
  • Methodology
    • Design tasks from specific to general
    • Time performance
    • Calculate success rates
    • Survey subjective criteria
    • Pay attention to survey hygiene:
      • Participant selection
      • Counterbalancing
      • T-scores

Source: Yee, Swearingen, Li, & Hearst

user interface survey results 1
User interface survey — Results (1)

Source: Yee, Swearingen, Li, & Hearst

user interface survey results 2

Google-like Baseline

Faceted Category

User interface survey — Results (2)

Source: Yee, Swearingen, Li, & Hearst

tagging samples how many items
Tagging samples—How many items?
  • Quantitative methods require large amounts of tagged content. This requires specialists, or software, to do tagging. Results may be very different than how “real” users would categorize content.
tagging samples spreadsheet for tagging 10 s 100 s of items
Tagging samples—Spreadsheet for tagging 10’s-100’s of items

1) Clickable URLs for sample content

2) Review small sample and describe

3) Drop-down for tagging (including ‘Other’ entry for the unexpected

4) Flag questions

rough bulk tagging facet demo 1
Rough Bulk Tagging—Facet Demo (1)
  • Collections: 4 content sources
    • NTRS, SIRTF, Webb, Lessons Learned
  • Taxonomy
    • Converted MultiTes format into RDF for Seamark
  • Metadata
    • Converted from existing metadata on web pages, or
    • Created using simple automatic classifier (string matching with terms & synonyms)
    • 250k items, ~12 metadata fields, 1.5 weeks effort
  • OOTB Seamark user interface, plus logo
  • Qualitative methods
  • Quantitative methods
how evenly does it divide the content
How evenly does it divide the content?
  • Documents do not distribute uniformly across categories
  • Zipf (1/x) distribution is expected behavior
  • 80/20 rule in action (actually 70/20 rule)

Leading candidate for splitting

Leading candidates for merging

how evenly does it divide the content1
How evenly does it divide the content?
  • Methodology: 115 randomly selected URLs from corporate intranet search index were manually categorized. Inaccessible files and ‘junk’ were removed.
  • Results: Slightly more uniform than Zipf distribution. Above the curve is better than expected.
how intuitive repeatable are the categorizations
How intuitive (repeatable) are the categorizations?
  • Methodology: Closed Card Sort
    • For alpha test of a grocery site
    • 15 Testers put each of 71 best-selling product types into one of 10 pre-defined categories
    • Categories where fewer than 14 of 15 testers put product into same category were flagged
how does taxonomy shape match that of content
How does taxonomy “shape” match that of content?
  • Background:
    • Hierarchical taxonomies allow comparison of “fit” between content and taxonomy areas
  • Methodology:
    • 25,380 resources tagged with taxonomy of 179 terms. (Avg. of 2 terms per resource)
    • Counts of terms and documents summed within taxonomy hierarchy
  • Results:
    • Roughly Zipf distributed (top 20 terms: 79%; top 30 terms: 87%)
    • Mismatches between term% and document% flagged

Source: Courtesy Keith Stubbs, US. Dept. of Ed.

pop quiz
Pop Quiz
  • What is the #1 underused source of quantitative information on how to improve your taxonomy?

Query Logs & Click Trails

query log click trail examination who are the users what are they looking for
Query Log & Click Trail Examination—Who are the users & what are they looking for?
  • Only 30-40% of organizations regularly examine their logs*.
  • Sophisticated software available, but don’t wait.
  • 80% of value comes from basic reports
query logs
Query logs
  • UltraSeek Reporting
    • Top queries
    • Queries with no results
    • Queries with no click-through
    • Most requested documents
    • Query trend analysis
    • Complete server usage summary
click trail packages
Click Trail Packages
  • iWebTrack
  • NetTracker
  • OptimalIQ
  • SiteCatalyst
  • Visitorville 
  • WebTrends
start a measure improve mindset
Start a “Measure & Improve” mindset
  • Taxonomy changes do not stand alone
    • Search system improvements
    • Navigation improvements
    • Content improvements
    • Process improvements
questions joseph a busch jbusch@taxonomystrategies com http ww taxonomystrategies com

QuestionsJoseph A. Buschjbusch@taxonomystrategies.com

  • K. Yee, K. Swearingen, K. Li, M. Hearst. "Searching and organizing: Faceted metadata for image search and browsing." Proceedings of the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (April 2003)
  • R. Daniel and J. Busch. "Benchmarking Your Search Function: A Maturity Model.”