As we know, part of taxonomy development is an art, and part of it is a science. The themes you’ve identified as part of your analysis should be your major touchstones as your creative mind churns on how you’re going to approach this design process, but you can also look for specific details from your themes that will inform development.
While there are many ways to analyze data, we’re going to use this space to dive into our favorite method: thematic analysis. Thematic analysis is the process of finding useful or pertinent themes in a set of qualitative data. By working through observations to see what themes arise, we can identify patterns of behavior and information needs which we can use to make evidence-based decisions.
Expert interviewing is an art, and people spend careers perfecting it, but it’s relatively easy to become good enough at it to get useful information. The most important thing, of course, is just to do it. Practicing is the best way to learn, but we also have some guidelines.
“When you talk to people about office politics, [it’s] often a way to get in and get talking about substantive things as well.”
“There are two kinds of knowledge, local and universal.”
If you’re following this process, you should have a pretty good idea of what you want to ask participants about already, since you’ll have thought about your goals and who the best people are to address them. We always collect these questions in a discussion guide and use that to drive the interview.
There’s no user research without users, so you have to find some people to talk to. It’s worth taking a moment to be strategic about it and make sure you’re getting the best participants for your study.
We always start off a research project by deciding what our objectives, or goals, actually are. What do we really need to find out? If we could wave a magic wand and know anything about our users, what would it be?
The following is an excerpt from an ebook I wrote with Rachel Price, User Research for Taxonomy Design. We wrote it as a companion piece to a presentation we gave at Taxonomy Bootcamp 2016, because we think there’s a lack of good information out there about generative qualitative research for taxonomy. In our book, we break it down into simple steps so you can do your own research.
How do you build a good taxonomy? That’s a big question, and it has all kinds of complicated answers. It’s also not the question we’re answering here. Instead, we’ll ask you:
How do you build the right taxonomy? A taxonomy that’s good might not be right for the people who are going to be using it. The right taxonomy will be well-constructed, yes, but it will also have a scope that suits its purpose, a structure that reflects its users’ mental models, and terms that incorporate their language.
So how do you build the right taxonomy for your people? You talk to them.
Maximizing and measuring ROI is a popular topic, both on the internet and with our clients, and rightly so. It can be nerve-wracking to consider spending money, time, and resources on a replatforming or implementation of a new system without any real idea of the extent to which it will be worth it. There are…