Current Awareness Strategy Blog

How can labels make your end user search experience 100% better?

You have rolled out your current awareness solution and created 100s - if not 1000s - of relevant alerts and topics populated with articles designed to keep your end users informed. 

But how can you ensure that people find, follow and subscribe to what they need? How can you direct them to the relevant content? How does anyone, including the rest of the information/knowledge team, know what has been created on the platform?

What does Vable mean when we talk about labels? 

What’s in a name?! Your organisation will already have various knowledge organisation systems (KOS) in place. For example, a library classification system, intranet taxonomies, website marketing content tags, learning and development materials indexes etc. What do you call your KOS? 

Vable allows administrators to create a bespoke, organisational-specific controlled vocabulary - a list of terms - to ensure effective current awareness organisation. We call them Labels. Labelling is an essential component of organising everything in your current awareness system, from alerts and topics to Inbox rules and MyVable content. 

I appreciate that you are information professionals and are familiar with KOS such as controlled vocabularies, taxonomies, metadata, indexing, term lists, labelling etc. However, Team Vable is often asked to assist with this part of a current awareness project, and this post is designed to give you some conversation starters for your next team meeting!

Before we start on the practicalities, what are the benefits of implementing labels?

It should be easy to get buy-in for this part of your current awareness project - especially if you already have an information department KOS in place. Information without organisation is a librarian’s worst nightmare! A properly designed label system benefits end users and admins by grouping content by topics, categories, and subcategories, making it easy to browse and access relevant information. 

  • Consistent labelling: Controlled vocabulary ensures that the same terms are used to describe the same concepts, making it easier to find and organise information.
  • Topic/category browsing: Controlled vocabulary allows users to browse content by topic or category, making it easier to find relevant information.
  • Filtering results: Controlled vocabulary allows users to filter search results by specific terms, making it easier to find the most relevant information.
  • Content management: Controlled vocabulary helps organisations manage their content by ensuring that it is consistently tagged and indexed. 
  • Curated content: Controlled vocabulary allows organisations to curate content by selecting specific terms to describe it, making it easier to find and organise.

The whole point of a labelling system is to act as an intermediary; to link the end user to the content simply and efficiently. Therefore the system has to reflect the needs of the end users, so that is where we will start - the end users' pain points!

What problems should your label system solve and how can you measure success?

Are your end users experiencing difficulty finding current awareness topics? Are your colleagues and end users wasting time and effort locating material? Are they frustrated by irrelevant content? Are they suffering from FOMO? Are you trying to increase end user engagement with your new current awareness service? 

Creating a logical and simple list of terms to apply to your content will solve many of these issues.

As ever, we need to ask ourselves about success and proving value. We have written about success criteria previously and this is a great opportunity to practice putting a list together. Think about it! If every criterion has to be clear, measurable and specific, what quantitative and qualitative data can you collect to demonstrate a label implementation project's success?

For instance, if more people are able to find topics of interest, more people will add them to their alerts and newsletters. You can demonstrate that n% more of your end users are finding and subscribing to content. Once you have the figures, you can start collecting success stories and testimonials. These can all feed into your annual reports, project plans, case studies and other valuable promotional documentation. 

technology adoption is only as good as the success criteria

Getting started on your labelling project 

We have discussed examples of organisational KOS. Depending on what you already have in place will impact the scope of your labelling project. If you have an effective subject-based library classification system, you have a great starting point. 

But be honest with yourself. Does it work for the non-information-qualified end users? Does your BD team have a more user-friendly system? Or what do your departmental knowledge professionals use?

But first, where are you at? Let’s ensure you have a team and a timeline in place.

  • Who is taking the lead on the project? You need someone who will take ownership and manage the timeline. The project will slip without a manager, a timeline, and associated goals. 
  • Who is involved in the project? You need administrators, end users, and other stakeholders represented. They will bring valuable insights and the more you involve people, the more invested they will be. 
  • How much content have you created on your current awareness platform already? Are we talking about thousands of topics or have you just started? Your initial approach depends on where you currently are.
  • What types of topics have you created? I’m thinking about concepts here - how would you flag a weekly curated news round-up about ESG issues? 
  • What level of detail will your labels have? How many levels will be in the label hierarchy? Ultimately, it has to be useful for your end users and give them direction as to what is available.
  • What types of end users are you catering for? Will you be making it public to all your users via a portal, or is it just administrators? At some point, this might change and you will regret not ensuring future readiness. 

Once you have considered all these important issues and have everything in place, you can start getting creative with virtual (or real!) post-it notes!

Develop a clear and concise labelling system

You need to develop a clear and concise labelling system that reflects the content and structure of your current awareness. Consistency is key, so ensure that all labels are applied correctly and that they accurately describe the content.

  1. Teamwork, group sessions, mind mapping, collaborative technologies: Create your terms as a group. Include topic experts, departmental representatives, and knowledge and information specialists to get an initial list of labels and definitions. This is where whiteboards and collaborative applications will be really useful.

  2. Continuous feedback: Solicit feedback from users and use it to improve your labelling system. Ask users if they can find the information they need easily and if they have any suggestions for improving the labelling system. This can help you identify areas for improvement and make changes to better meet the needs of your users.

  3. From the initial list, create a meaningful list of terms: Whenever possible, use plain language and avoid acronyms or abbreviations unless they are commonly understood. Ensure you include concepts as well as industries or practice areas, for example, Geography, Content type, Names, Time and Admin. You might want to think about whether you need a hierarchy.
  • Subject-based: Labels are organised based on the subject matter of the content. For example, "Intellectual Property," "Corporate Law," and "Labor and Employment Law," with subcategories for specific topics within each category.
  • Geographic: Labels are organised based on geographic location. For example, a news aggregator covering international news might have categories for different regions of the world, with subcategories for specific countries or cities within each region.
  • Content type: Labels are organised based on the type of content, such as news articles, blog posts, or podcasts. This could also include “Special Projects” or any other content that might be important to you.
  • Names: Labels are organised based on the names of people, clients, organisations, and government departments. For example, Elon Musk, United Nations, and HMRC. 
  • Time-based: Labels are organised based on the date or time of the content. For example, “Hot Topics”, “Recent”, “Curated”, and “Weekly Updates”.
  • Administration: Labels are organised based on admin needs. For example, “For review”, “For deletion”, “Testing” or anything related to content management. 

Whatever you create, consider your end user's needs above everything. What information are they looking for? What labels will be most helpful to them? By taking user needs into account, you can create a structure that is intuitive and easy to navigate.

Hint: Why not try generative AI to see if that assists in creating a relational hierarchy? When I copied the above text into ChatGPT, it gave me a rudimentary list which got me started. If you are clear in your instructions and amend them as you go, you could ask it to find common themes among your existing topics. 

Effective labelling is a crucial component of any current awareness platform. By creating a clear and concise labelling system that reflects the content and structure of your platform, you can ensure that end users can easily find and subscribe to relevant content. To create a successful labelling system, it is important to consider your end users' needs, involve stakeholders, and continuously solicit feedback for improvement. With an effective labelling system in place, you can provide a positive user experience that promotes engagement and satisfaction.

Recommended further reading:

New call-to-action


Subscribe by email