Blogs

The Power of Metadata: How to Improve Findability

Imagine walking into a library and finding books with no titles or apparent organization. Or a grocery store with no labeling on the food packages or labeling of the aisles. How would you feel? Frustrated? Lost? Annoyed? Probably all of the above. In the grocery story example, you’d likely leave without purchasing anything and go in search of another grocery store that does a better job at making it easy to find what you are looking for.

What does this have to do with findability?

Wikipedia defines findability as follows:

Findability is a term for the ease with which information contained on a website can be found, both from outside the website (using search engines and the like) and by users already on the website.

So in the case of the library and grocery store examples, findability could be defined as how easy it is to find the location of the library and grocery store and then how easy it is to find the books and food, respectively.

Why you should care?

Based on a 2016 survey conducted by Findwise, two-thirds of respondents reported that more than 50% of employees depend on findability to complete their daily work.

Source - SlideShare

When users visit a website, it’s typically to find (or search for) something or to solve a problem. The findability of your website or intranet will drive how easily users can achieve this. As with the library and grocery store examples, if your users can’t find what they are looking for or if a solution seems nowhere to be found, they will likely leave. And quite possibly not come back.

Put another way,

  • If your users can’t find what they are looking for, you can expect a loss in existing customers and new customers
  • If your employees can’t find what they are looking for, you can expect a loss in productivity

And this translates to a loss of dollars. Potentially lots of them. By putting in the time and resources to improve findability, you can expect a strong ROI.

Metadata to the rescue!

There are many things you can do to improve findability: create quality content, provide context, improve the search experience, provide well thought out navigation, and more.

To improve search and navigation, metadata is key. So let’s focus on those.

Search

One of the best ways to improve the search experience is with the use of metadata. However before you can define your metadata, you need to run some analytics and figure out what your users search for, how they search, and what terms they use. This will drive the metadata that you define.

Once you’ve done your homework, you can determine what metadata to capture and how to use it to improve the search experience. Will you apply keywords to your content? Will you build in search filters?

Navigation

Metadata is not limited to improving search. It’s also an invaluable resource for improving navigation. All of the hard work you do to define your metadata can also be used to define a taxonomy. Using those most commonly searched terms, you can categorize and label your content to build your taxonomy and effectively design your navigation.

Final Thoughts

Improving findability is worth your attention and investment. And defining and applying metadata will help you get there.

 

Tammy Crowley is an Information Architect with Innovatia Inc. She has more than 20 years’ experience working with content and has spent the past 10+ years devoting her skills to technical content.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Business Continuity – You Have An Event!

A Business Continuity Plan can mean the difference between sinking or swimming when an event happens. So what steps should you have done, and what steps are needed to ensure a smooth transition from business-as-usual to event, and back again?

Read More

The Future of Technical Writing: from Books to Topic-based Authoring

As technology evolves so must the written content to use this technology. Many corporations have only started to adapt their product content from a book format to topic-based authoring. What are the benefits, and what challenges are involved?

Read More

Your Brand Isn’t Just a Logo

I’m sure most of us can identify a company’s logo without too much difficulty. But that easily identifiable logo is not the sum total of a company’s brand. A good brand evokes a visceral, emotional response in its fans. A good brand is the company’s voice, its attitude, its website, its documentation, its community involvement, its products, and its logo.

Read More

Cool Effects in eLearning Development: Handling Many Pieces of Content

There’s nothing more demotivating than reading many paragraphs of text. ELearning is not just some pictures added to text to make the information a little more palatable for the learners. ELearning development has to include an evaluation of the content and a determination of how to make it easy-to-assimilate.

Read More

How Project Managers Create Better Learning

When considering a new learning project, set yourself up for success by making a Project Manager one of the first team members you bring on board. Using their expertise from the start of a project will help you to produce the right learning solution, resulting in better learning for your users. Here’s Why.

Read More

Getting Started with Business Continuity

A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) should prepare you and your team to respond to the event in order to efficiently regain operation of the systems that are made inoperable from the event. Let’s look at the planning that has to take place in part one of this series.

Read More

Technical Writers – An Integral Part of UX Design Process

A user-friendly application encompasses sound user interface design and proper integrated documentation. When the UX designers and technical writers work together, they ensure that the user experience with the product is worthwhile. Let’s understand how!

Read More

Creative Technical Writing

We wouldn’t typically associate creativity with technical documentation. After all, technical documentation is meant to focus on facts and details, and be, well, very technical about everything. However, we would be doing our customers a great disservice if we separated creativity from our documentation.

Read More

To Measure or Not to Measure

With the storm of analytical tools available these days, you can just about measure anything – the number of pages, seconds on page, previous page, calls to action. You name it and there is a tool to measure it. But are we measuring the right things?

Read More

The Door Marked “Enter”: Transitioning from Manuals to Web Content That Actually Helps Users

So you’re moving from delivering book-based content to web-friendly content in a knowledge base portal. It’s going to be a bumpy ride, but well worth it! Be prepared for a frenetic pace, a lot of (daily) challenges, but also a lot of (daily) rewards too.

Read More
Share This