What is the optimal way for users to sort through 1000+ categories? I want to avoid hierarchical categorization.

It's for the desktop version of a clip streaming site with 30,000+ clips that are member generated and in the style of Vines.

Average user is either searching for specific content or just there to kill time, in which case some kind of discovery filters would be cool.

  • What is it, who is using it and for what purpose? We need much more information.
    – Matt Obee
    Apr 9, 2015 at 13:38
  • Surely with 1000+ categories they can be grouped in a multitude of ways.
    – Mayo
    Apr 9, 2015 at 13:41
  • Is this related to UX? Apr 9, 2015 at 13:44
  • I've added new information, I hope that's enough (this is my 1st question on here)
    – snooches
    Apr 9, 2015 at 14:25
  • 1
    Is one of the categories Irish Documentaries filmed in 1950 because how else would there be 1000+? Examples categories would be nice. Apr 9, 2015 at 16:52

3 Answers 3


Any list of items with text labels can at least be grouped by first letter.


That said, I can't even imagine 1000+ root level categories for movies. Can these categories be curated down to just a few that make sense because how do I even know which category to search for?


Assuming you want to avoid hierarchical categorization, you can use freeform category tags to apply multiple filters:

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If I understand you correctly you have videos and you want people to be able to find them easily without them having been put into pre-set categories such as what Netflix does.

You haven't given us much information about

  1. what kind of videos

    • Hollywood type movies;
    • YouTube cute puppies and guppies;
    • instructional videos - how to use Photoshop, fix your bicycle, install moulding.
  2. nor about the users and their expectations of the site, etc...


Still, in a generic sense (and assuming here Hollywood movies and relatively savvy users) I would consider tags (as per StackOverflow).

Show a list of tags and let users filter down the movies. Example: selecting "Westerns" would display 150 choices; adding Sci-Fi to that mix may bring the choice down to 5.

Of course your movies will have to be carefully tagged; and you may want to have user feedback regarding your movies - perhaps even letting the users assist in tagging. The list of tags may become difficult to display as well. (Need more info here re type of videos).

Robust Search

Another option which I would consider would be a robust and cleverly created search. In this case a user could request westerns and not Clint Eastwood.

Complex searches can be interesting but it really depends on how you display it, who your users are, how well thought out your design is and how motivated your users are to explore the nuances of the search feature.

Nonetheless in order to get more feedback you'll need to provide more details regarding the videos and the users.

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