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Monday, May 10, 2010

SharePoint 2010 – Using Taxonomy & Metadata to Improve Navigation & Browsing

Guest Author: Jeff Carr

Metadata represents the foundation for a large range of functionality across sites in SharePoint. The goal of metadata lies not in the tagging of content itself, but rather in the potential it offers for the improvement of findability via navigation. 

A new feature offered in SharePoint 2010 is Metadata Navigation, which provides users with navigational elements constructed from tags that have been applied by publishers to content. The purpose is to filter or refine the result set based on taxonomy that has been bound to Managed Metadata columns. 

Two forms of functionality are provided:

  1. Navigation Hierarchies – These provide an expandable and collapsible hierarchy based on taxonomic values bound to a specific chosen field. You can expand a term set and select terms to filter the current view of the library. 
  2. Applying a filter by selecting a term displays only those documents that have been tagged with that term. If a selected term has associated children, by default they are included as part of the filter.

    A further selection on the filter icon located beside the original term offers the option to apply the filter on the parent term only.

    Filters are also offered as part of the header fields displayed in a view of a document library. Managed Metadata fields that are bound to a hierarchical term set may be browsed, with selected terms applied as filters. The user interface is slightly different than that provided by the Navigation Hierarchies, but the functionality is equivalent (including the caveat).

    Caveat: Although presented as a form of guided navigation, this approach lacks true faceted functionality for the user experience. Proper faceted navigation displays a listing of only those term sets and terms that have been applied to content stored within the document library itself. Presenting the user with the entire taxonomic hierarchy means that the potential exists for navigation down a multitude of paths that have a high probability of displaying no documents.
  1. Key Filters – These provide the ability to filter the current view of a document library based on taxonomic values bound to a specific field. The difference between Key Filters and Navigation Hierarchies is that with Key Filters, users enter keywords into a text field and managed terms from the taxonomy are returned through auto-suggest functionality. Alternatively, selecting the tags icon   displays a popup window containing a browsable list of terms from which to select. 

Now that we’ve seen how we can leverage our taxonomies and metadata to enhance the navigational experience, next up we’ll look at using them to improve the search experience.

Guest Author: Jeff Carr

Jeff Carr is an Information Architect and Search Consultant with Earley & Associates specializing in user centered information design. Working with SharePoint since 2003, he has been involved in the design, development and integration of web-based solutions from intranets and extranets to public facing websites for a variety of large enterprises across a wide range of industries.

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