The Case of the Ubiquitous Headphones

In our work of building and maintaining e-commerce taxonomies, we often run into the problem of products not fitting nicely into one single category. Although this problem is not specific to e-commerce taxonomies, their use for navigation and browsing presents a special categorization challenge; the need to lead a wide range of customer types down an intuitive path to the product they are looking for.

Think about something as simple as a pair of headphones: where do they belong in the following hierarchy? Continue reading

The Pain and Gain of Taxonomy User Testing

As a taxonomy consultant, I always recommend (rather, urge with great gravitas) to my clients that they reserve some time and budget for adequate user testing. As they say, the proof is in the pudding: there’s nothing better than quantitative data to tell you whether you’ve built a structure that really resonates with your core audiences and facilitates their tasks. Creating a taxonomy without testing is putting a lot of faith in guessing – albeit, usually pretty good guessing, based on industry experience and knowledge of best practices if you have a good taxonomist.

Having done user testing on taxonomies I’ve built a few times, I compare the feeling to what I imagine it’s like a being an actor or actress watching yourself in a film.

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