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Controlled Vocabulary

What is Controlled Vocabulary?

A controlled vocabulary is a predefined set of terms, keywords, or tags that are used to describe and categorize content in a consistent and standardized manner. It is a structured and controlled way of organizing and labeling information, typically used in information architecture, content management systems, and search functionality. Controlled vocabularies ensure consistency and accuracy in labeling, indexing, and retrieval of information, making it easier for users to find and understand content. They also help improve search results, navigation, and content discoverability, enhancing the overall user experience by providing a clear and organized system for users to interact with and find relevant information.

Why is Controlled Vocabulary important?

A controlled vocabulary is important in various aspects of user experience (UX) and information management for several reasons:

Consistency: Using a controlled vocabulary ensures consistency in how content is labeled, tagged, and categorized. Consistent labeling makes it easier for users to understand and interpret the content, leading to a more seamless and efficient user experience.

Findability: Controlled vocabularies facilitate effective search and navigation. By using standardized terms and tags, content can be easily indexed, searched, and retrieved, making it more discoverable and accessible to users. This improves the findability of content and helps users quickly locate relevant information, enhancing the overall user experience.

Interoperability: Controlled vocabularies enable interoperability and data integration across different systems and platforms. By using standardized terms, content can be easily shared, reused, and integrated with other systems or applications, ensuring consistency and accuracy in data exchange and communication.

User Understanding: Controlled vocabularies help users understand the content and its relevance to their needs. Consistent and meaningful labels aid in users' comprehension and interpretation of content, making it easier for them to navigate, filter, and understand the information they are seeking.

Scalability: Controlled vocabularies provide a scalable way to manage and organize large amounts of content. As content grows, a controlled vocabulary helps maintain consistency and order, making it easier to manage and update content in a structured manner.

How to use Controlled Vocabulary?

Here are the general steps for creating a controlled vocabulary:

Define the purpose: Determine the goals and objectives of the controlled vocabulary. What are you trying to achieve? Who are the intended users? What type of content or domain will the controlled vocabulary cover?

Identify terms: Identify the terms that will be used in the controlled vocabulary. These terms should be relevant, meaningful, and aligned with the purpose of the controlled vocabulary. Consider existing standards, guidelines, or industry best practices for term selection.

Organize terms: Organize the terms into a hierarchical structure or a flat list, depending on the complexity and scope of the controlled vocabulary. Consider using broader terms, narrower terms, and related terms to create a meaningful and structured hierarchy.

Define relationships: Define relationships between terms, such as synonymy, hierarchical relationships, or associative relationships. These relationships help users understand the relationships between different terms and navigate the controlled vocabulary more effectively.

Establish guidelines: Establish guidelines for using the controlled vocabulary, including rules for term usage, formatting, and consistency. Consider providing examples and explanations to help users understand how to apply the controlled vocabulary correctly.

Review and iterate: Review and refine the controlled vocabulary with input from relevant stakeholders, domain experts, and users. Iterate on the controlled vocabulary to ensure it is accurate, relevant, and aligned with the intended purpose and goals.

Implement and maintain: Implement the controlled vocabulary in the relevant systems or platforms where it will be used, such as content management systems, search interfaces, or tagging tools. Regularly review and update the controlled vocabulary to keep it relevant and accurate over time.

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About Akendi

Akendi is a human experience design firm, leveraging equal parts experience research and creative design excellence. We provide strategic insights and analysis about customer and user behaviour and combine this knowledge with inspired design. The results enable organizations to improve effectiveness, engage users and provide remarkable customer experiences to their audiences.