A Double Challenge
As with organization and navigation systems,
labeling systems are much ignored and yet crucial to users understanding and
being able to find information in your web site. Your challenge when working
with labels is twofold. First, you want your site's labels to speak the same
language as the site's users. We've discussed all sorts of sources for labels,
from users to thesauri to analysis of users' queries to experts to the site's
content itself. But human beings are fickle creatures; everyone is different,
and everyone changes the way they think from moment to moment. Their use of
language changes similarly. So the other half of your challenge is to use their
language even more consistently than they do. That's why it's helpful to think
of individual labels as parts of larger systems.
Strive to design systems that are consistent in the labels that they use, the
editorial style that colors those labels, and the granularity of content that
those labels address.