Paul Wlodarczyk, easyDITA
Reprinted with permission from http://easydita.com
Many organizations using DITA are in the early stages of developing taxonomies and metadata strategies for improving findability of their DITA content.
There are several huge benefits to developing basic taxonomies and a metadata scheme if you haven’t done so already:
1. Help your authors locate DITA content for reuse.
2. Help your project managers and content managers wrangle your content.
3. Help your end users find what they’re looking for, whether that’s on a web site, in a portal, or via some other dynamic content delivery system.
Taxonomy and metadata can seem like scary or complex turf to the uninitiated—but they don’t have to be. I like the idea of “search-first” thinking as a way of guiding basic but effective content strategies. The first person I heard apply the “search-first” concept to content strategy was James Matthewson, who leads Enterprise Search Strategy for IBM. As James defines it, “search-first” is
“… a strategy that structures the whole content enterprise around search experiences, from messaging to writing, to coding, to production, to architecture and UX design. If companies structure their content strategy around search, they maximize their investment in content for both search crawlers and their target audiences.”
Creating content in DITA is already a great first step for search-first, since your content is granular and can be easily published to a dynamic delivery system.
Developing a metadata strategy for a search-first approach can actually be fun! The approach I like is a lot like playing Mad Libs—it involves writing search use cases or user stories with blanks to fill in. You can play this Mad Libs game with your team, your SMEs, and end users. Play one or two rounds thinking about how authors and managers search for content, then repeat the process thinking about end users. Your Mad Lib use cases should read something like this:
- Author: “I am trying to find content to reuse. List every