Jeff Bridgforth :: Webcraftsman

Crafting Web sites since 1999

I am a Front-end Developer passionate about creating elegant, inspiring, and usable Web experiences that connect with an audience and fulfill business objectives.

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Is Tagging Right for Your Site?

July 31, 2006

(This post is also featured on eMinistry Notes.)
Last week, I participated in a virtual seminar done by Josh Porter of UIE. The topic was “is tagging right for your site?” Tagging is part of Web 2.0. Tags are like keywords but the big difference is that they are determined by the user not the information architects of the website. And unlike traditional categories on some sites, you can have multiple tags on an object like a photo, content or people. If you would like some more information on tagging, I would suggest some of these articles written by Joshua Porter:

You can see examples of tagging on Flickr, del.icio.us, and Google video. One Campus Crusade ministry site that is using tagging is StorySpot.com.

One of the key benefits of tagging is that the users are determining the words so tags speak the user’s language. This has been a big challenge for anyone trying to do information architecture on a website, to get the categories in language that is meaningful to the user. As we know, what is meaningful to us as web developers is not always (usually) meaningful or connect with those trying to use our sites.

The best insight I got from the seminar is that the most common use and the one that is the greatest benefit to users right now is tagging for personal retrieval and organization. Users are tagging things that they want to be able to find later. Joshua said that as we think about implementing tagging, it works best when we are seeking the personal benefit of the user.

Given the fact that one of the greatest benefits that users are getting from tagging right now is personal retrieval, I think that there are several ministry sites that would be greatly enhanced be tagging. I would love to implement it on one of my ministry sites, GodSquad.com. Most of the site is a repository for some of the best resources and tools that the US Campus ministry has developed. I can think of at least two emails this past year that asked for easier ways of remembering content. I see tagging as a possible solution to many things I have been thinking about in regards to improving the site.

As I continue to process the material from the seminar, I hope to share some more insights.

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