February 04, 2002

Faceted Classification Example
I've been trying to get my head around the concept of "faceted classification." This topic has been discussed a bit lately on the SIGIA list, and I wanted to understand what's different about
"faceted classification" from my previous understanding of "classification". FacetMap is an online example and tutorial on faceted classifications. I guess I've never thought of web "taxonomies" or classification systems as using strictly mutually exclusive categories -- where items only fit in one location. Maybe this is why facets don't seem to be a big revelation.

I think providing the user "multiple paths to success" is important whenever possible. For example, "Salt Products" might fit under both "Food" and "Industrial" categories since there is table salt and road de-icing salt. On an intranet, one user might think to look for an organization chart under "about us", while another user might look under "contacts". Where they look might depend on the task they are trying to accomplish at the time. I seem to run into examples like this all the time. Sometimes you can get away with supplementary navigation to get the user to the one spot where something resides (e.g. "Related Links"), but other times you have to actually place the content/item in multiple places.

So there is value in being able to distinguish between "faceted classification" and "hierarchy" or "taxonomy" -- "faceted classification" is a more specific term -- it lends clarity to the discussion. I also like the fact that conceptually "facets" should be determined by user needs. This helps focus the information architect on the user, rather than just on the content.

Read more about faceted classification at PeterMe:
- Innovation in Classification
- Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-cets!

No comments: