EPA's Information Architecture and Web Taxonomy

The agency-wide Information Architecture (IA) functions as an over-arching top layer for EPA's web content.

The IA provides a framework for EPA to present topically-related web content from various offices and regions via a unified interface. This unified top layer co-exists with, not replaces, the multiple discrete web areas that comprise the EPA web site. The IA starts with these four main information channels: 

  • Learn the Issues
  • Science & Technology
  • Laws & Regulations
  • About EPA

The four channels identified in the IA are used as global navigation for the entire EPA.gov website. Web editors for these channels will continue to improve the content of the four Channel areas as more EPA content is tagged with channel metadata.

A screenshot showing the global navigation for the EPA.gov site.  There are four tabs, reading: Learn the Issues, Science & Technology, Laws & Regulations, and About EPA
EPA.gov global navigation channels, based on the IA

The EPA Web Taxonomy allows audiences easy access to relevant information from EPA programs, by using a common vocabulary to describe EPA web content. The specification includes the core metadata elements that are required to find, use and manage items on EPA's website. The controlled vocabularies and the metadata specification are collectively known as the EPA Web Taxonomy.

The Web Taxonomy is closely tied to the IA, in that the selected terms help feed the content to the IA. IA is the structure and organization of the content. Taxonomy is how content is tagged for search and retrieval in the CMS and the web site.

Frequent Questions

What is Web Information Architecture (IA)?

Information Architecture (IA) for the Web is the art and science of organizing and labeling Web content so that users can navigate a site and easily find the information they need. A Web IA is essentially an organization schema for the content on a Web site.

What is EPA's Information Architecture?

EPA's Information Architecture creates a topical organization of our website, instead of an ownership-based organization. EPA's topical Information Architecture starts with these 4 main information channels: Laws & Regulations, Science and Technology, Learn the Issues, and About EPA.

What is EPA's goal for IA?

The agency-wide Information Architecture (IA) will function as an over-arching top layer for EPA’s web content. The IA will provide a framework for EPA to present topically-related web content from various offices and regions via a unified interface. This unified top layer will co-exist with, not replace, the multiple discrete web areas that comprise the EPA web site.

Why is this effort needed?

EPA.gov is made up of many individual web areas created by its various offices and regions. While these web areas might provide the best information possible regarding their particular perspective and resources, they do not do a very good job aggregating or linking to related web content that has been produced by other EPA offices or regions. Providing this aggregated, topical access to EPA’s web content will be the focus of the agency-wide IA. The Information Architecture will not replace the existing pages that comprise the EPA.gov web site. It will enhance them by adding more topically-defined entry points for our users who are not familiar with the organizational structure that organizes our web content now.

What are the benefits of the Web Information Architecture for EPA.gov?

  • Information that is easy to find, accessible, relevant, accurate, timely and complete
  • Content that is topic-based
  • Improved search results from both EPA’s search engine and external search engines
  • Improved navigation and ease of use for our diverse audiences

What is the difference between IA and the Web Taxonomy?

IA is the structure and organization of the content. Taxonomy is how content is tagged for search and retrieval in the CMS and the web site. In Terminology Services, you can search all of the facets together, one facet alone, or any combination of facets by using the control key to select each facet.

How does Metadata play into the IA?

Metadata is defined as data that describes other data. EPA now has a Web Metadata specification. Filling in the required fields will allow content to be found easier for both our web site users and our topical editors. See the Metadata page for more details.