A taxonomy is a set of concepts organized into a hierarchical structure covering a topical domain. You could think of it as a structured vocabulary. For example, in biology, a commonly used taxonomy is that to describe all plants and animals.
Generally, the categories are arranged in parent-child structure that takes the focus from broadest to most narrow. Again, to use the example of biology, the Plant and Animal taxonomy starts out at the highest level of Kingdom, and continues down through Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus until finally reaching the lowest level of Species. Each category may have its own set of synonyms to account for different ways of expressing the same concept.
What are taxonomies used for?
A taxonomy can help make a large body of knowledge more understandable by providing an organization for the knowledge.
Taxonomies make it easier to interact with a large amount of information. If your business needs to make information more findable, then you may want to consider taxonomy. This could range from a website with a business database search, an e-commerce website, or internal company documents.
What benefits does having a SharePoint Site Taxonomy provide?
From the end user perspective, it gives us a starting point for information architecture and - more specifically - navigation. Consider the following SharePoint Site taxonomy:
Using the site taxonomy above, it becomes much easier to imagine a navigation system for a corporateintranet.
From an IT perspective, the taxonomy drives much more than how sites and navigation are presented to the end user. The taxonomy provides a consistent framework for making decisions about sites and how they should be provisioned and governed. Rather than treating every site as a custom entity, asking questions that allow for the classification of a site can enable IT staff to easily make decisions regarding the configuration of that site. Some pertinent questions might include:
1. How long does the site need to exist (is it permanent, short-term, or long-term)?
2. What kind of and how much content is expected for the site?
3. Who should have access to the site?
4. Who will be able to create and edit content for the site?
5. What is the purpose of the site?
The answers to these (and other questions) can help IT staff classify the site. The taxonomy can be
applied to a standard set of properties within the organization such as:
- Disk space quota
- Default look and feel
- URL Path
- Backup schedule
- Content Types
provisioning and, eventually, allowing for it to be automated.The taxonomy provides much more than a common set of terms, it provides a foundation upon which future decisions are made. It provides a scalable hierarchy that allows a SharePoint deployment to grow in an organized, predictable, and understandable manner.