Over the past few months, one of our big projects has been building new categories and channels for Instructables. We're doing this to make it easier for users to find content and to make more compelling products for advertisers. Much of the existing content has been recategorized by algorithm or by someone here at the lab, but we'll need your help both in making sure we (or the robot) got it right. So, I wanted to give you a heads-up before the new scheme goes live, explain why we think it's important, and ask for your help!
Why we're updating categories
The existing categorization scheme with its 18 channels has served us well, but we've outgrown it. First, the channels are too broad to meaningfully help a new user find more of the content they are excited about. Should a new user arrive to a knitting Instructable from a Google search, they often have trouble finding other knitting Instructables within the Craft channel. Related Instructables are helpful, but aren't clicked as often as we'd like, and don't give an immediate sense of the variety and number of knitting Instructables we have available.
The primary and secondary channels associated with an Instructable put yet another stumbling point in this new user finding more great content. To new users, it's not immediately obvious that we allow multiple channels per Instructable, so when they are browsing through the Craft Instructables, it can be confusing to see a project with LEDs or a home repair project that happen to have Craft as their secondary channel. This has been a similar point of confusion for our advertisers, who don't understand our current channel system.
I'll be sad to see our two-channel categorization scheme go, but it's a necessary change to improve the way the site functions. It feels a little bit like we're growing up!
How the new categories and channels work
To address these issues, we've created five new top-level categories and, within each category, lots of new channels. Each Instructable will be placed in a single category and a single channel within that category. The new categories are Living, Outside, Play, Technology, and Workshop.
• Living has all things related to crafting, decorating, cooking, parenting, and organizing.
• Play has all things related to fun and games.
• Workshop is everything one might do in a workshop or shed: home improvement, woodworking, and working on cars or bikes.
• Technology and Outside are very similar to the existing Outdoors and Tech channels.
Only five top-level categories might seem like too few, but remember that the vast majority of new visitors come directly to an Instructable via search - these folks will see other channels related to the Instructable they're viewing. For example, someone first coming to Instructables via a search for a sewing project will see that the project is in a sewing channel, that we have a knitting channel, and that both are in our Living category. Someone who has an account on Instructables is smarter than the average internet-searcher (in my opinion), so our community will quickly learn how to navigate the new structure. Hopefully we'll all discover lots of new Instructables in the process!
How to recategorize your Instructables
Log in, and go to your Instructable. Click the "Change Keywords, Category(s), License" text in the Author Options box, and you'll see a section called "New Categories." Pick a top-level category from the upper drop-down menu, then select a channel from the second menu. Hit Update, and you're done! When the new organization scheme is visible on the site in a few weeks, this is the category and channel your Instructable will appear in.
We're still working out the kinks in this new system, and expect to be creating and combining channels as needed to make finding things on the site easier. While you must pick a category, if you don't see a channel that matches your project, you may choose to leave it unsorted. We'll keep an eye on unsorted projects, and will either sort it or update the channels as needed.
Thanks for your help!
We hope this new scheme makes it easier to find the projects you want to see on Instructables.