Creating Effective Labeling Systems

Successful labeling systems mirror the thinking and language of a site’s users, not its owners. If you’ve done your homework and created a sound organizational system for your site, the labeling system should follow its lead. So, for example, the labeling system should be topical if the organization system is topical. But once you’ve established a general approach (e.g., topical, task-oriented), where should the actual labels, the words themselves, come from?

Sources for Labeling Systems

The labels currently in place

Your web site already has labels by default. As you made some decisions during the course of the site’s creation, you probably won’t want to throw those labels out and start over. Instead, use them as a starting point for developing a complete labeling system, taking into consideration the decisions you made while creating the original system (if you can still remember them).

Capture the existing labels in a single document. To do so, you’ll have to walk the entire site, either manually or automatically, to gather the labels. You might consider assembling them as a simple label table. Here’s an example:

Page Title (rendered as a graphic at top of page)

Page Title (rendered with <TITLE> tags)


Headings on Page

Argus Associates, Inc.

Argus Associates, Inc.

&bull; Who We Are.

&bull; What We Do.

&bull; Clients

&bull; Contact Argus.

Who We Are

The Argus Team

> ...

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