I've been working a system which has categories and sub categories. Now, I have found three optimal way to achieve this

  1. Using tags - Ex: StackExchange (single domain site)

Pros: Highly organized content, easy to navigate, consistency

Cons: Doesn't work well with multiple categories (ex: CSS tag is applicable both for UX, StackOverflow, SharePoint etc.

  1. Using hashtags - Ex: Twitter

Pros: Easy for end users, users can easily highlight the categories, deep hierarchy

Cons: Not consistent, purely flat, highly ambiguous (ex: Color and Colour both are same), hard to combine hashtags

  1. Drop down list, predefined list - Shopping websites, reddit

Pros: Well defined hierarchy, Easy to navigate

Cons: Categories should be limited for brevity, almost persistent, need its own space on a web page

  1. Combination of drop down and tags- Somewhat similar to SE sites (each site for each section)

Pros: Easy to navigate, organized

Cons: Hard to maintain, same issue as #1 (ex: CSS tag applicable for both categories)

Now, here is my site functionality

I want to allow users to post anything what they want (considering SPA, as a application type). I am not a big fan of hashtags because of their consistency. It works for Twitter because it works primarily on trending topics.

I am finally ended up with the following design which is bothering me as it may confuse users about the site wideness.


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

Note: I've seen quora where tags are primarily being used to categories stuff. I, personally, feel that this isn't a perfect way to organize content. If you notice you will get the identical feed (in terms of content) every time you open up the home page. Also, Quora is highly dependent upon bots to organize content as per their system.

So, my questions are:

  • Is there any other elegant way to organize the content? How can I send right message to right people until it is organized in my system well?
  • I know my approach fulfill my need but that will make my site more complex. How can I reduce complexity to navigation and posting content?

1 Answer 1


How can I reduce complexity to navigation and posting content?

In a website, tags are navigational meta data to help users find similar content. Their value in that context is only as good as the strategy employed by those who did the tagging.

If the tags were created by authors primarily as internal identifiers to help them with content creation or something, there will soon by many esoteric tags of varying length and type, and their usefulness as navigation will be diminished (something you can easily see in Google Analytics, if you do careful experiments.)

So my opinion is that tags can be very valuable if they are applied to content in a way that is disciplined and very focused on users. The websites I return to use them sparingly and this seems to be consistent with the idea that, in general, fewer categories is good.

The effort you put in on the content curation and classification side of information architecture will probably take some pressure off getting exactly the right design pattern.

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