Generally, tag or word clouds visually depict the words used in a given text. Frequently used words may stick out with an increased font size, groups of tags may appear in uniform colors. Additionally, tag clouds can visualize relationships of words.
Tag clouds are much easier to grasp than simple lists, as words can be weighted with the help of font size and color.
We see tag clouds on lots of sites these days. Almost in all cases the purpose of the tag cloud is to give user an easier way to browse the site and at the same time see popular content.
Here are some of my favorite ways tag clouds are used on the web.
1. Discover New Music
Theis an artist recommendation engine. Try to “Get Artist Cloud” for a band you like and receive a cloud of similar musicians you might enjoy. I love many of the suggested bands and there are yet a few to be explored.
The site also fetches music videos from YouTube which you can watch while noting down discoveries.
2. Extract Information from Twitter
Using Tweet Cloud you can create a tag cloud based on a keyword or Twitter ID. This tag cloud shows you the major words found in the most recent tweets and their occurrence frequency in relation to each other. The cloud rotates in 3D and you can click words to explore them further.
3. Create Fancy Word Art
Wordle was built for no other purpose than to play with it and create pretty word clouds. You provide the text and can tweak fonts, layouts and color schemes. Results can be printed, downloaded and saved to the Wordle gallery. Below are some recent examples.
4. Improve Google Search
[NO LONGER WORKS] Search Cloudlet is a Firefox extension. The next time you search Google, Yahoo or Twitter after installing this tool you will find a tag cloud on top of the search results. This tag cloud derived from search results and shows you all the keywords relevant to your search results.
Users can easily narrow/filter search by clicking keywords on the cloud and adding them to the query. This is a must-have addon for everyone who frequently searches on Google, Yahoo or Twitter.
Where and how Search Cloudlet appears can be optimized within the extension’s option.
5. Analyze Your Texts
Are there words that you use far too often?
Using a tool like TagCrowd you can create a tag cloud from any text and analyze whether or not your use of words is balanced. You can enter a webpage URL, upload a text document or paste a piece of text and finally finetune the options. When done preparing click Visualize! and wait for the result.
Below is an excerpt from Obama’s inauguration speech.
Where do you find tag clouds helpful?