At workz.com, I was the Product Manager for “The Marketplace,” a contextual advertising program that embedded native ads in and alongside relevant content.
As a two-year-old, decently funded online publication, we had at that point created hundreds of substantive content pages and developed relationships with dozens of advertisers, sponsors, and other business partners.
The product launch entailed strategy, planning, design, software specification, project management, and financial, legal, and other coordination, all of which I managed.
Product Information Architecture and Metadata Strategy
More than half of my time was spent on researching and designing the product.
The core of the product design was an information architecture that tied together what until that point had been two separate taxonomies which were the main way of organizing our editorial content and categorizing our sponsors and other business partners.
Working closely with the Editorial Director and the Director of Sales and Marketing, I led a painstaking effort to align the two taxonomies and to craft an overarching metadata strategy for the product — and the company.
The taxonomy alignment entailed numerous meetings, a lot of conversation and correspondence, and one giant spreadsheet where we documented agreed-upon terminology and the hierarchical arrangement of the common concepts we had identified on each side of the business.
A significant part of the product design involved workflow specification and CMS customization to account for the new unified taxonomy and to incorporate new metadata into our publishing platform. For example, to track revenue-sharing with content syndication partners, we added new administrative metadata fields. We also incorporated new functionality to facilitate SEO (e.g., adding a new field to the CMS to provide a meta page title in addition to the existing H1 document heading). We also added metadata capabilities to fine-tune our log-file analytics.
Documentation and Training
All of this required creating new documentation and training for the editorial and advertising teams, which I also managed, along with a taxonomy maintenance plan. This involved regularly scheduled audits of editorial and promotional usage of each taxonomy term.
After we launched The Marketplace, I moved on to a new role as executive producer, which entailed spearheading a website redesign. In that role, I drew on the taxonomy-alignment work to revamp our site navigation and to improve our on-site search functionality.
I founded, designed, built, staffed, and operated this online directory for massage and bodywork schools and continuing education programs.
The core of this business was its continuing-education class listings. So the “class” became the centerpiece of the website information architecture. This paper sketch outline of the domain entities illustrates this.
I fleshed out this sketch in a spreadsheet, specifying the details for each field for each in each table. This is a screen shot of the “class” table.
Working closely with my development team, we then created a formal entity relationship diagram to guide development of the MySQL database which underlay the class-listing system.
CEU classes span a wide range of topics. Many classes cover more than one topic. Different providers often use different terms to describe the same treatment or concept. Students sometimes talk about classes differently than providers. Still, we found it possible to account for all of the course topics and student interests in a single taxonomy.
We researched and sorted:
- the terms that providers use to describe their courses
- the terms that students use to discover classes
- academic research on massage and related taxonomies
Validating our work as we proceeded with course providers, clinicians, industry experts, and representative students, we wrestled the final term list into a fairly shallow hierarchy (which we strove for, since we used the taxonomy in many places for site navigation) that accounted for all of the thousands of courses that we had identified.
The resulting massage-CEU taxonomy was a three-level-deep hierarchy that both helped us organize our content and gave our users relevant class listings.