At the planning phase of a new or (to be) redesigned Web site, write a description of its subject area/scope.
This step is important:
- to identify the content of the site (e.g. for development, selection and inventory);
- to ensure this Web site is actually required and does not duplicate information already available on another FAO; and
- as a starting point for subsequent steps related to the management of the information and the promotion of the site.
To define the subject scope of the Web site:
1. write a description (a sentence or two) and a list of concepts, topics and terms that best describe all aspects of the subject that the Web site will cover. Put together, they are the vocabulary of the Web site.
2. check the site vocabulary against formal vocabularies: AGROVOC is an FAO standard thesaurus in multiple languages. Use the standard terms and concepts whenever these match ones identified in your Web site.
3. develop a specific list of concepts when the existing vocabularies are insufficient for the Web site.
4. When redesigning a Web site:
- review the current content;
- identify topics and concepts; and
- do Step 2 above.
Why is it important to describe the subject coverage?
A formal vocabulary is the basis of several activities that are performed during the Web site project and after it has been launched:
- avoid duplication of conceptual work: professional vocabularies created by experts provide the correct and current terms for describing a topic domain. Using the standard terms and definitions will aid user comprehension and visibility. Consistency in terminology will give your information credibility.
- lay the foundations for interoperability: a formal definition of the subject scope helps you identify any existing relevant information management standards. These, if adopted from the start, will make your information easier to exchange with relevant systems. For example, if your information is about countries, or to be structured by countries, make sure you use FAO country names and ISO country codes. This will make your information consistent with systems and sites that already exist, and easier to be selected, aggregated and displayed in other relevant systems, like the FAO Country Profiles and Mapping Information System.
- set the criteria for the selection, acquisition and classification of content, whether from the existing site if you are redesigning, or from existing sources if you are building a topic-specific portal, a document area or a specialised search engine.
- re-use, in building and promoting the Web site: the concepts for your Web site can provide topic-based site navigation and provide useful clues for the development of focussed content. Your concepts are the building blocks for optimising the keyword density on the pages to be submitted to external search engines.
- prepare for metadata-based indexing and cataloguing: the description and the concepts (also to be considered as descriptive keywords) can be used for cataloguing your Web site in EIMS. This will result in submitting your site to the Information Finder (which draws from EIMS).