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Best Practices for Classification

The Events Calendar system has an extensive, flexible system for classifying your events. Careful selection of appropriate values for each taxonomy will help Event Seekers find your events and also serve to make it easier for users to build well-crafted Widgets and RSS feeds.

In the process of transitioning to the new system, University Communications and Stanford Web Services conducted a user research study to identify an ideal set of terms for classifying events. Details on this study are included below.

Tips for effectively categorizing your events on the Stanford Events calendar

The Events Calendar provides the following fields to categorize events.

  • Event Type
  • Subject
  • Tags
  • Keywords
  • Audience
  • Location
  • Experience type
  • Host

These fields are also used on the front end as filters in the site’s navigation, allowing end user to narrow their results by any one category or combination of multiple categories. A full listing with examples for each is available on the Classification Categories and Terms page of this website.

Below are some best practices to keep in mind when adding your events to the Events Calendar.

Be mindful of your end-users’ experience.

Select Subject terms that will resonate most with the end-users. While it might be efficient for us to categorize events based on university offerings, remember: data shows users will browse through the lens of their interest, not necessarily by schools, majors, or departments.

If given options, users feel more comfortable selecting broad terms to classify an event’s subject. 

Users were asked to classify the following 2 events:
An event discussing the societal, economic, and climate challenges the U.S. and world face during the next decade.

Most popular Subject selection: Environment & Sustainability

Event promoting ethical entrepreneurship in the digital age.

Most popular Subject selection: Business 

User Research, Stanford Events Calendar 

Use Tags to help narrow down the subject.

Tags are an excellent way to help users to narrow down their search by adding granular topic terms and other specific words that help define your event. Users will be able to narrow down their search with narrow topic terms using the open-ended tag field. 

For example:

An event discussing the societal, economic, and climate challenges the U.S. and world face during the next decade. — Q4 DATA Source

Subject: Environment & Sustainability 

Tags: economics, financial market

Event promoting ethical entrepreneurship in the digital age. — Q5 DATA Source

Subject: Business 

Tags: entrepreneurship, ethics

User Research, Stanford Events Calendar 

Use Keywords to help SEO

Keywords are completely hidden terms that will enhance the discoverability of your event. You can add as many terms as you’d like to this field by pressing enter after each term entered. These terms will not be displayed on your event’s detail page but are saved as metadata in the system.

Don’t put your event in a category that is not a good fit.

Doing this will make these categories less useful for our end users, as well as for event promoters who are using the category to pull events onto their websites. Be intentional with your selections.

Don’t over-categorize.

Remember that most users don’t browse this way, so spamming the categories is unlikely to get more visibility for your event. Additionally, users will lose trust in the categories if the content doesn’t represent the category term well, and the categories will cease to be a meaningful way to browse.

User research

Research shows using clearly defined, predictable language helps users narrow down options during their search. University Communications and Stanford Web Services collaborated to conduct research, examine user data, and review best practices to help inform user-centered filter content on the Stanford Events calendar. The classification system presented below is based on the findings from our research.

We should preface this information about effectively categorizing events with the caveat that most users of the legacy Stanford Events calendar did not browse or search for events. Over 55% of Stanford Events users are driven to details on specific events either from a listing on a website, an email, or some other type of communication. However, for users who are browsing and/or looking to find specific events, categories are helpful to discover the events that are of interest to them. With more robust categorization in the Localist system, we expect engagement via search and filtering to increase over time as Event Seekers become accustomed to the possibilities offered.

Research shows Stanford students explore university events based on two main criterias: alignment with their interests and schedule. 

User Research, Stanford HAAS Cardinal Service Website

A subset of users will rely on the provided filters and classification terms to help browse, narrow down their search, and find events. Presenting your event using strong, informative terms is important to ensure users can efficiently and effectively find your event.

The new Stanford Events Calendar provides a classification structure that is user-centered and user-tested. The taxonomy is designed to better support the end-user experience and journey to finding events by providing a filtering system that is prioritized and predictable.

How we came up with the classifications

We started with predefined categories and terms that are most relevant to users:

  • Event Subject: What is the focus of the event? (e.g. Business)
  • Event Type: What will I be doing at the event? (e.g. Performance)

We kept terms in these categories broad and predictable. As our research shows users are conflicted if there are multiple options that define a large category.

If given an option between Science and Life Science, users are more likely to select Science as a classification category.

Users were asked to classify the following event:
Organic Chemistry Seminar: Glycosylation is a reaction used by Nature to modulate the structure and function of biomolecules; however, the mechanism of its role in biology and disease progression is not well understood. 

Most popular Subject selection: Science 

User Research, Stanford Events Calendar 

By providing users with a broad term as a starting point, we empower them to control their experience:

  • We avoid overwhelming them with multiple options
  • We avoid confusing them with terms that they might not be familiar with
  • We reduce the number of clicks and time it will take them to find events of interest
  • We reduce cognitive load for end-users by helping them make quicker decisions, limiting time and clicks needed to understand differences between terms

In addition to the predefined filters, users have the option to narrow their search with open-ended terms called tags.