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A tag cloud is a logical arrangement of keywords within a textual content that visually describes the subject of a website, blog or any other text. Tags representing the most popular topics are highlighted using bold, larger fonts or increased color saturation to make it easy to see the most popular tags on the page. Tag clouds are used as a navigation or visualization tool to help users search the content easily.
A tag cloud is also known as word cloud or weighted list.
A tag cloud is a visual, stylized method that represents the occurrence of words or tags within a textual content such as websites, articles, speeches and databases. The tags in a tag cloud are represented according to their frequency, weight and meaning relative to other tags. They may be sorted alphabetically or according to their relevance, frequency or similarity.
Various methods are used to configure how the tags are represented. These include using varying fonts, colors and backgrounds. The large, bold or contrasting colors represent the most popular tags. Website visitors therefore are able to easily see the popular tags and discover the topics covered in one quick look. The tags in the cloud link to their respective content, and clicking on a tag opens up the referred content.
Tag cloud generators are available either as a plug-in in most website publishing software or as a standalone application. They usually generate the tag clouds automatically by analyzing the keywords or frequent words on a website or text. However, the tools may differ depending on whether a website is static or dynamic.
The use of tag clouds has advantages as well as some disadvantages, which may vary depending on the user goals. For example, they help users know immediately what the website is about, in addition to helping them browse and navigate through the Web page. However, if not properly configured, tag clouds can cause a website to have too much clutter, keyword spamming or excessive links.
The usability and effectiveness of tag clouds depend on factors such as the font size, weight, color, alphabetization, sorting and other visual features that influence the speed of finding a tag.