[wp-hackers] Achieving faceted navigation

Haluk Karamete halukkaramete at gmail.com
Tue Dec 7 23:05:28 UTC 2010

When dealing with a large subject such as Health or Sports etc
(whatever the case be),  you'd naturally want to start out right, and
as right as possible as far as your navigation systems are concerned
and that brings the matter down to site organization & content

But, since categorization of content is a very subjective task and
humans have so many different angles to see things from, the
categorization challenge usually becomes a mind-boggling task. I
realize & accept that there are many right ways of achieving great
categorizations but I also do know there are definitely the wrong ways
to go at it. Usually, either the lack of knowledge or pressuring
deadlines may be the culprit.

And down the road, the unevitable may hit home and when you look back,
you realize that you could have achieve certain things in so many
different but easier ways, this is true not just from your user's
point of view, but also, you, the developer's point of view!

That's the time, it really hits home when you realize, how important
it was, to decide correctly on what should have been a top level
category, a sub category, a custom taxonomy, or a tag! But at that
time, it may be too late to fix things...

My question to you is to find out your approaches towards minimizing
this what seems to be a universal problem... I obviously cannot expect
a complete solution from any of you who happen to find this concept
interesting... but I can't goo wrong by trying to pick some of the
best brains in the industry.

Here is the bare-bone question!
What do you do to minimize the damage that we tend to create at the
early stages (as I described above) and what do you do maximize the
flexibility down the road that we all wish to possess in our hands?

But before you do that, I would like to underline another aspect that
is really BIG for me and that is to be able to achieve faceted
navigation - obviously without duplicating cats, posts, or any work
for myself.

What I mean by the faceted nav is this;

I have a horizontal nav at the nav and I got items such as
Browse By Media | Browse By Audience | Browse By Proficiency | Browse
By Popularity |  and of course the unavoidable! Browse By "Topics"

Under Browse By Media, you may have videos, pod casts, articles etc,

Under Browse By Proficiency Level, you may have beginner,
intermediate, advanced...

and Under Browse By Audiences, you may have kids, youth, women, men, seniors...

of course Browse By Topics is where the million-dollar question is,
but that's very much subject matter specific so we leave that aside-
at least for the time being...

The idea with faceted nav. is that the visitors may navigate the site
by clicking on say Videos and then view lots of videos across all
kinds of available topics.

At that point, the audience, the proficiency level, popularity should
be offered as filters to the user, so that he/she can filter down the
videos displayed across those topics to fit to his/her needs.

Of course, with the same site and database, user should also be able
to navigate thru your site with the default facet in view, that is
topic based.

In that case, he then selects a topic from the Topics listing, and
then the next page he see would be one which show cases all the
featured videos, pod casts, articles, apps etc, etc - all dealing with
the same subject matter that user is focusing on.

Again, at that moment, you'd want to be able to offer your user
similar filters, but this time By Media Type, By Audience and By
Proficieny Level.

So if that's the scenario, the question is...

To achieve this, what's the most straightforward approach you would take?

My very raw take on this ( just to get this email going ) is the following.

Approach 1

1- Screw the topical categories... dump all posts into the all-mighty
"uncategorized" and get going...

2- come up with 3-4 semantic top level cats such as

*** Media   ( Video, Article, Pod Cast, Picture Gallery, App ) so that
visitors can view the site from a particular media type point of view

*** Audience ( Kids, Youth, Men, Women, Seniors ) so that the right
group can filter down what matters most to them.

*** Proficiency Level ( Beginner, Intermediate, Adcanced )  so that
visitors of different levels of knowledge do not get frustrated by
seeing either too trivial or to advanced stuff )

and always place your posts into all of these semantic cats properly.

3- Tag your posts like hell.

4- After a few hundreds of posts (or when things start to get clear),
do a tag cloud and see whereabouts your stuff really is accumulating
and then come up with the proper categorization ( and subs ) to
replace the "uncategorized" top level category with.

At that point, you may use a plug in such as "tag to categories" to
start populating the top level topics...

5- And if you want to create bigger sections, you may do so by
creating some more pages. I mean WordPress Pages... Come up with 5 to
10 of them, name them marketing-smart so that they are
visitor-grabbing and SEO friendly etc.. and make them show case some
custom content for their respected landing pages, by tapping into
crazy complex SQL queries that pulls posts from various cats, Media
Types with lots of multiple loops...

And then launch the site.

Approach 2

Do the same, but use Custom Taxonomies for step 2 instead.

Approach 3

that's you. I'm all ears.

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