Taxonomies Showcase

In our last TEL blog post on the subject of taxonomies, we explained the importance of taxonomies and how they power many of the websites we all use every day. Taxonomies are our superpower and without them, we would struggle to find much of the information we take for granted when using Google, Bing or any other search engine.

Over the past 12 months, the HEE TEL programme have been developing a taxonomy to improve the way our users access and discover content across our platforms including via the new learning solution.

At an event last month, we took the opportunity to showcase our taxonomy work with a range of our stakeholders with an interest in this area. The showcase brought together suppliers, the project team and individuals working in library and knowledge services to explore our work and gather feedback about the opportunities it presents and the challenges it might raise.


Clearly taxonomies are a ‘hot topic’ as the day was interrupted by a short fire alarm! That didn’t dampen the spirits of participants though and allowed for lots of informal discussion in the August sunshine about the possibilities of this work.


The project team at Findwise presented the work that was done to pull content data from the NHS eLearning Repository and e-Learning for Healthcare databases to improve the search and discovery capabilities of these existing systems. Using interfaces and connectors, data can automatically be indexed and presented to users in a similar manner to search sites like Google and Bing.


The team at Smartlogic then presented how their product was used to build a taxonomy that helped power the new search capabilities, explaining how existing taxonomies such as SNOMED and NHS Choices were used alongside custom vocabularies to build up a complex but user-friendly list of terms to help users quickly find what they need. Smartlogic also emphasised the importance of synonyms in taxonomies, enabling users to search for variations on the same word and misspellings and still find the results they need.

The day culminated in a set of exercises where participants tested the new search facility, explored some of their concerns and discussed opportunities to develop this work further.


From the showcase, the work will be refined further and the next steps identified for implementing a final taxonomy that also integrates with our existing systems and with the new learning solution.

You can continue to follow our work on Twitter, using the hashtag #TELTaxonomy.