At UNSILO, we always welcome feedback, and it was very heartening to have requests from our Classify users that they wanted to make the product more scalable, as they progress from tens of classes to hundreds and potentially thousands for each Classify implementation. But what constitutes “scalability”? Part of the answer is providing the infrastructure for many more classes, and the back-office team at UNSILO is busy making sure that Classify is robust for managing and delivering thousands of classes within one implementation. But to navigate within thousands of classes also requires something of a rethink to the user interface, and here we are fortunate to have Jonas Kelstrup, our head of UX and product design. He has created a simple and effective way to add better classification to Classify.
“Classify is a very easy-to-use tool for building subject collections, and the last thing I wanted was to increase the complexity of the tool” commented Jonas. “But it makes sense to provide a way of grouping classes, so the challenge was to do it without imposing a steep learning curve on casual users.”
The result is still in beta development, but the outline can already be seen. At the simplest level, users will be able to tag any individual class of articles using a simple coloured tags.
But much greater flexibility can be added. The tags in the left-hand column of the screen can be grouped and organised hierarchically, but the beauty of the system is that the classes themselves are not held in a hierarchy. There is no restriction on the number of hierarchies or tags that can be used. So users can group classes in a hierarchy by subject, but in a different hierarchy to denote who is responsible for that group of articles; or in yet another hierarchy to denote where in the workflow they appear.
For example, in the above screenshot, one class covers the subject “surgery” and has been assigned to the editor “Jonas” (under “assignee”). On the left, one class, “practice management”, has been expanded to cover several sub-topics.
This system has some similarities with the tag system for contacts in email systems gmail and Outlook, but is more flexible. Taxonomists will like that the tool is polyhierarchical (one class can be in multiple locations), and users will appreciate being able to add a few extra tags for a specific purpose as required. The next iteration will include permissions allowing certain tags or groups of tags to be locked.
“This doesn’t replace a formal taxonomy”, continued Jonas. “But it provides some of the convenience of a taxonomy by making retrieval and identification faster. Users can select all tags under the heading “assignee”, for example, to see all classes that have been assigned to someone, including all the individual named. And to simplify navigation, all levels of tags on the left can be opened or closed, for easier comprehension.”
We welcome any feedback from existing or potential users of Classify about this exciting new initiative, before it goes live.