Design Insights

Taxonomy Boot Camp 2022 Themes & Takeaways

Cover slides from six talks presented at Taxonomy Boot Camp 2022

Last week I had the pleasure and privilege of attending the 18th annual Taxonomy Boot Camp in Washington DC. This year’s conference carried on its strong tradition of ideas, talks, and workshops for neophytes and experts alike, and, as always, provided much food for thought. Here’s a roundup of the themes and topics I saw recurring across talks, plus (as always) a bit of commentary on where I see them fitting into the bigger picture of designing information spaces that are easy to understand and pleasant to use.

Structured Content and the Headless CMS

A Garmin smart-watch, sitting on a wooden bench.

Are you still trying to wrap your head around what structured content is, how to use it, and what the benefit is to the folks who use your content? One way to think of it is that structured content treats information as a set of ideas, concepts, and facts to communicate, each described in a way that conveys its meaning in a machine readable way. Here's a brief illustration to demonstrate what that looks like. A Boutique Knowledge Graph Case Study


UX Methods is a progressive web app designed to help those new to the practice of user experience design explore and understand the purpose-driven connections between UX tools, techniques, and approaches. It is also a case study in boutique knowledge graph design which explores the benefits of bringing semantic web technologies to smaller scale projects.

Stop Publishing Pages! – Content Strategy MeetUp Talk Highlights


The way that we consume information on the web is changing. Voice and IA technology are driving this change in a way that affects anyone publishing online. And yet: we continue to hold on to the metaphor of the content we publish as “pages,” destined to be found and read as delivered by patient, attentive online readers. I recently had the opportunity to talk with the Seattle Content Strategy MeetUp group about this alarming state of affairs—and about what we can do to fix it.

Language + Meaning + User Experience Architecture

Schematic images of three different kitchen layouts from above, showing the consistency of the kitchen triangle in each.

In order to effectively communicate across contexts in digital information spaces, we need to understand the way we make meaning as thinking animals. We also need to dig in to the details of the language and models we use to make them intelligible, both so that we can use them more effectively and so that we can leave them behind when they are hindering communication. In the same way that we construct our built environments in response to the physical mechanics of our bodies, we can construct our information environments in response to the conceptual mechanics of our minds.

The Trouble with Systems

A hand holding a clear spherical lens up to a computer screen of data

Much virtual ink has been spilled in the last year or two over the importance of thinking about information design in terms of systems as opposed to thinking of it as a set of carefully laid out maps. As an initial stab at defining an approach to systems informed by the way we think, I submit that information architecture is in a unique position to act as a shim between systems and sentience. IA is where we create information from data and structure that information with narrative. We use IA to wend a deliberate path through the wilds of content at large.