Improving the category list in the hamburger menu

Continuing the discussion from Proposing a left-aligned slide out hamburger menu.

The category list in the hamburger menu probably isn’t the best way to navigate between categories. In cases where a community has a large list of categories and subcategories, it likely isn’t very good at all.


When you’re on a topic list page using the breadcrumb dropdowns are definitely my go-to for category navigation, now with the added bonus of being searchable.

I suspect navigating from /latest to /categories might even be a bit superior, because it can do a better job at showing subcategory hierarchy and additional details (takes the same number of clicks, but a little more scrolling).

The #1 case for using the hamburger is when you’re in a topic or other page that’s not a topic list… (or I guess if you’re scrolled really far down the topic list and don’t want to scroll back up or refresh the page?)

So, how could categories in the hamburger menu be improved?

  • Do they need to be there at all? Would that menu generally be better and less noisy if we directed you with a single link to /categories? This would require one more click than selecting a category directly from the menu.

  • Or if a community has more than 10-15 categories, do we limit the list to most popular? Should we suppress subcategories by default (this is a common request). As a phase 2, could this be your most frequented categories?

Am I totally wrong about the menu? are you using it all the time? thoughts? additional ideas/examples?


One data point: We hide the list on our site with CSS and just keep the link to the Categories page.


Can it make sense to show those categories that we want to see there? Icon in the form of a cross (hide). This applies to any arrangement of categories. Anywhere. Let users choose what they want to see.

I would imagine a layout, but at the moment I can not do it. Show, hide is easy. (a cross, an icon).

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it did not give any hope to anyone who sought it today. The problem of many can be solved if we can do this at least

It is easier for developers to move keys to categories, such as navigation.

I definitely favor shortening the hamburger list to the most active categories. Maybe the “easy” solution is to truncate it at top 6? Two rows of 3 each?

Or for the “easiest” solution, hamburger could simply have a link to the categories page…


Or we can display only the categories which user watching, tracking and watching first post. Along with a link to categories page. If a user doesn’t have any preference then we can simply display top 6 categories.


I definitely like that idea! Can you make it so next week?


You might still want to limit them. For example, I watch a lot of categories here and on sitepoint.

Edited: For the record, I rarely access categories from the hamburger menu but I like to read the majority of topics so I watch a lot of categories. I don’t need to see everything I’m watching listed but even if I did I’d end up ignoring it.

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I wonder about that. The only use I make of this menu is going to the admin panel.
When, I want to open a category, I rather click on the forum logo to go back to the home page, and then use the left categories menu, even if it’s more clicks and time than going to the categories through the hamburger. For some reasons my mind seems to ignore this menu.


I like it too! I think it would look something like this?

edit: oh actually “Watched/tracked categories” could probably link to


I already made the PR. Now doing some fixes in it.

I added few more improvements. So it’s not just watched & tracked categories list. Actually it will display:

Watched categories + Tracked categories + Watching first post categories + User’s top categories + Site’s top categories
(in same above order. but the count won’t exceed 6. cc @cpradio)

In your above example if “support” and “feature” are your preferred categories then in addition to that UI will display 4 more categories from your top contributed list.


So hamburger menu will include support, feature, ux, bug, dev, and theme categories for you.


Still we may need better title than “Top Categories”.


So cool :star_struck:

Top Categories might be the best way to say it… It’s hard to describe all those features better with a simple title.


I liked the idea on a first thought, but then I’m not so sure. Am I going to use a shortcut to something which is kind of random? If this top 6 is fluctuating too much I probably won’t be going this way to reach it, so what’s the use case here ? Why would I use something which might not show what I want to quickly access? When I think of the hamburger menu it’s to quickly access something that I know is going to be here (eg: admin), in this case I’m not sure I would ever think of it especially for users not using much track/watch categories (or using it too much eg: more than 6)

I still think it’s better than what we have now and is worth trying.


It’s not random at all. And it won’t be fluctuating in most cases. Users will not change their category preferences often. For an established user top contribution list is also stable. Anyway let’s try it :slight_smile:


When I enter a Discourse forum for the first time, I routinely use the hamburger menu category list to get a quick idea of how the forum is structured. On most forums this works fine, but I agree that when there are too many categories, it’s a problem.

Recent example: the NextCloud forum has about 8 million sub-categories (one for each nextcloud app). I successfully suggested to them that they hide all subcategories from the hamburger menu and that solved the problem.

I also use the hamburger menu category list a lot on mobile, so for those two reasons, I’d be unhappy to see it crippled to “my categories”.

So how about this: if subcategories were hidden by default, the problem described in the OP would probably be eliminated for 95 percent of all sites. (Alternatively, subcategories could be hidden once the total number of categories exceeds X.)

Now, for those remaining sites with many categories, I think what would make most sense to me would be to limit the list to the X most popular categories (alternatively, to a list defined in site settings, though that means the tidy-up effect would not be achieved automatically).


Right that seems to be the consensus and that’s what is pending already as a change ↓

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I didn’t perceive these to be the same when I wrote my previous post, but I think I see what you mean. I think the reason I saw and perhaps still see room for improvement is that the pending change makes the list so short and seems to prioritize “my categories” over top categories, which, from a user perspective makes that list somewhat unpredictable.

My :hamburger: category list here on meta is currently 17 items long and looking at it on a Galaxy S7, I think it’s entirely okay useful to see that many. So my cut-off point would be more towards 20.

Same here! I actually hid the hamburger menu entirely on our forum but brought it back for admins since I liked having the admin shortcuts there. We decided for the average user there isn’t really anything necessary in that menu, and cleaner to just have the user menu. I can see how on a huge forum the hamburger menu may be necessary for more filtered nav, but I don’t think I use it much on any Discourse forum I’m on, easier to just click logo to get to homepage and scroll (now that I think about it I rarely drill down into specific categories at all, here on meta for example I can easily catch up every couple days just from latest)

As per @sam’s comment in PR I removed the “top categories per user” part for now. And sticking with the original hamburger categories UI (which we having now) with new more button in the bottom.


When will this be live on meta?

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