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When designing a Help page or FAQ that is broken down into categories, is a category titled "Other" useful, or does it indicate a poor information architecture?

Sometimes there are truly items that don't fit into a broader category, but my questions is what exactly to do about it:

  • Should I eliminate the few things that don't fit into other categories, or
  • Should I try to rework the categories to include all questions / topics I want to cover in the Help page, or
  • Should I just have a category called "Other" where I list those miscellaneous topics I can't capture elsewhere?

(Or is there another alternative I'm not thinking of?)

Tumblr's help page is a good illustration of what I'm talking about: Tumblr help categories

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2 Answers

up vote 15 down vote accepted

When you have categories, there are often items that don't fit into any category well, and so you are left with a choice between having a category with a single item in it, or a catchall category like 'other'.

If the item isn't needed in the first place, then regardless of whether it fits into a category or not, you should not include it. That said, I will assume that any item that you want to show is needed. And if you need it, then you clearly have one of two options:

  • Rework the categories so that they are more broad and less usable. In which case you are likely hurting the overall UX far more than you will be helping it.

  • Include a catchall category such as 'other' or 'miscellaneous'. While 'miscellaneous' is more accurate, it is also used less often and many people may not know what it means. So I would suggest using 'other'.

TL;DR: If you need the item and it doesn't fit into a category well, use a catchall like 'other'.

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I would guess that if you could rework your categories so that everything is meaningfully categorized, that would be your best option.

However, I don't consider an "Other" category illegitimate, after all the point is to get information across to the user. In this regard, calling it "Uncategorized" or "Miscellaneous" might also carry more information about the nature of the category.

An idea I'd play with, given the example of Tumblir, is to elevate the items in "Other" to their own category status. Something like

Your account and blogs

Blog Management

Managing Your account

Connecting to Facebook

Counseling and Prevention Resources

provided that the items are so few in the first place

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