Managing Search and Taxonomy

Lou Rosenfeld’s recent post on where to position search and taxonomy management within the organization was a nice validation of how we have it set up at our office. According to Lou:

To rant a bit, it really drives me nuts to hear people talk of “search and IA” (which they often understand as browsable taxonomies). This is an absolutely false distinction, and leads to poor search design, poor taxonomy design, and perhaps worst of all, missed opportunities to better integrate the two to support finding, IA’s ultimate goal. For example, search often is greatly improved when it leverages metadata tags. Metadata therefore should be designed with search in mind. So why separate teams? I don’t see any good reason, just a lot of bad ones.

At ASHA, we have two teams in the Web Cluster (our label for a division): the Content Management Team (CMT) and the Knowledge and Community Management Team (KCMT). CMT has responsibility for IA, visual design, general content development and managing the stream of content that comes from our 40+ content contributors. KCMT is responsible for managing our search engine, the ASHA intranet, the member community, online events and the ASHA thesaurus of terms. Both teams sit next to each other in our office and have easy access to one another. We also have a full staff meeting every two weeks where the topic of discussion is often on how we can improve the overall findability of content and services on our site by tweaking our search, metadata, etc.

While they are technically two separate teams, they operate as one in effect. I’m very happy with how well this arrangement has been working for us.