Classifying and Sorting Content

The Ulwazi Programme attempted to put together an online resource around the local history and knowledge of the people of the eThekwini Municipality. To do this, we trained participants in digital media production as well as online content management. An important aspect of this work was sorting and classifying information, to make it accessible to both the end-user as well as indexable by search engines.

Gathering content through methodologies such as oral history and field research is only the first step in creating an accessible and useful body of information. In order to make it easily navigable and retrievable, it is important to apply classification and sorting principles in a logical and consistent way. This ensures that the content follows a set hierarchy and is presented in a way that is most appropriate for the intended users.

Why Classify Content?

Classifying content for the web involves very similar disciplines and systems to those used in bricks and mortar libraries, with the Dewey Decimal System being one of the best-known examples. When using this system, each book is assigned a number based on its content, which dictates its place on the shelf. This system works well for physical texts because it allows for very specific classification that is universally understood and used. 

However, with online content,, a slightly different approach is needed. Digital content tends to evolve more organically as  files can changed, added to and updated as needed.Yet, it still requires the same rigour and consistency in hierarchy. When conducted properly, the process of sorting content also ensures that search engines can properly index the site. This is necessary for the content to be displayed as results in search pages, and helps to increase the readership of the site and its general profile online.

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