We’re working to make tagging content to the new taxonomy a simple, routine step in the GOV.UK publishing process.
The Finding Things team have been creating the first complete taxonomy for GOV.UK, starting with Education. This taxonomy powers a new navigation which will allow users to find any piece of content on the site by topic.
For this to work, every piece of content on GOV.UK needs to be assigned to a topic based on what it’s about. And for this to be sustainable, tagging content to topics needs to become a seamless part of the publishing process.
This month we launched the first version of the functionality to do this. It’s built into Whitehall, the application government publishers use to get content onto GOV.UK.
The new feature allows publishers (for now, just education publishers) to pick the topic, or multiple topics, that their content is about.
Most importantly, it allows them to be really specific about this.
Education publishers now have more than 150 topics to choose from. Specifying exactly what a piece of content is about, for example, ‘Key Stage 2 Maths’. This allows the GOV.UK navigation to be just as precise, showing users just the content they are interested in.
In this example, it means for the first time a primary school teacher, headteacher, governor or parent can find all the relevant government guidance about a particular subject in one place.
Creating a tagging interface
For publishers we wanted to make the process of choosing the right topic as simple as possible, and explored a number of ways to do this.
Early in the project, we tested a two column approach:
The first column allowed you to pick a high-level topic, then select any of its sub-topics. The second showed all the topics that had been chosen.
However, we now have a taxonomy with multiple levels, and it's tricky to present a column-view while giving the user the ability to both navigate into a topic, and also select it.
We also found that publishers appreciated being able to see the whole taxonomy at this point - to get familiar with the shape of it, and to see what topics were available.
So we iterated to a ‘tree’ design:
We tested this design with publishers, and they found it easy to scroll up and down the tree of topics and select the ones that they wanted.
We will be iterating on this design based on usage data and publisher feedback. Education is a relatively small part of the new taxonomy we are building, so we will also revisit this design as we add more topics, to check if another design might work better for a larger taxonomy.
Existing tagging options
Many publishers already have the ability to associate certain kinds of content with some high-level tags including policy areas and specialist sectors. And we’re not changing this for now, but as the taxonomy grows we will be looking at how these can these can be consolidated.
What’s live at the moment is the simplest tool we could build for publishers to tag accurately and confidently.
We’re helped by the fact that, for now, there is a relatively small set of tags to choose from. With many more subject areas to be developed, we know we’ll need to iterate the tagging tool for a taxonomy that spans multiple subject areas, and in time, all of GOV.UK.