I have tackled some of theses issues by
- making categories restricted to certain groups, except for a top level Welcome category for users not logged in
- setting main site categories to viewable by TL0 so logged in users get the content common to all users
- using the groups page to allow users to “follow” restricted categories
- suppressing subcategories on hamburger menu
- adding a groups icon to the nav
This works ok for me, including creating a curated email summary for the groups that each user follows. See https://community.talkbaq.org for an example.
At scale, the menu and groups page gets unwieldy. Some ideas to consider
group page enhancements to help with order and arrangement, “My Groups,” group categories, show group description/dated added, search, orderby (clickable) options, etc.
simple category overview page that shows all categories and subcats on one page like a sitemap
The new changes are great but further enhance the preference page for Categories to add a “check the box” interface.
Show groups on profile in more pretty way and under separate tab
Preference page for categories or groups page could be part of registration flow to let users pick their groups/categories.
Allow generic invites not tied to an email so communities can be transitioned in more easily with group assigments when you don’t have a user’s email or you want the invite to be shareable (used with caution)
As an alternative to groups approach. allow categories to be private but not hidden, so users know the categories exist and can get instruction in the about topic on how to join.
Above all else–should work on mobile.
The downside to all this for me is it takes everything out of search because categories are restricted. Also users have to jump through a couple steps.