In this article, we'll cover the four Category Types available in your Higher Logic Vanilla (Vanilla) community:
Before we begin...
Because Category Types are an integral aspect of Categories, here's a quick refresher before we get too far:
- Categories are the high-level organizers of your discussions, and each discussion must be placed in a Category.
- Each Category must be assigned a Category Type, which determines its behavior and purpose.
📝 NOTE: Check out the article below for more information about Categories, including how to configure and manage them.
Category Types allow admins to create a streamlined and easy-to-navigate Category hierarchy for your users, and you'll likely make use of each type to do so. With this in mind, let's learn about each one, so you understand their purpose.
Discussions Categories are important because:
- They're the only Category Type that can contain discussions (hence its name).
- When creating a discussion, these Categories will be the only ones selectable when choosing where to post it.
📝 NOTE: A Discussion Category can have subcategories. If a subcategory is also set to the Discussions type, users will be able to post discussions in both the "parent" Category and the "child" subcategory. While there may be certain use-cases where this is desired, it can also lead to confusion for your users, who may post their discussions in the wrong Category. Generally speaking, you'll want to use the Nested, Flat, or Heading types as parent Categories.
Nested Categories function as a "container" in which to add other Categories.
- They cannot directly host discussions.
- In the community, they function as a clickable title to "drill down" to additional Categories and content.
- They are not automatically sorted alphabetically, but you can drag and drop them via their hamburger icons to manually arrange them.
As you can see below, Nested Categories can be several levels deep, and are ideal for creating a branching structure, typically to host different (but related) discussions.
📝 NOTE: If your Vanilla community is leveraging our Subcommunities feature, top-level Categories must be set to Nested.
Similar to Nested, Flat Categories function as a "container" for other Categories and cannot directly host discussions. However, there are a few notable differences that set them apart:
- Flat Categories can only be one level deep.
- They are automatically organized alphabetically.
- They cannot be manually organized (notice the lack of hamburger icons on the left).
- Nested Categories offer a paginated directory structure that can handle thousands of subcategories (notice the previous/next page buttons).
A Flat Category structure is typically only recommended for large communities with numerous Categories.
⭐️ EXAMPLE: Your Vanilla community needs Categories for hundreds of colleges and universities. You create this structure with Flat Categories so they're automatically sorted alphabetically.
Heading Categories are unclickable headings that exist solely to help with Category organization. No content can be added to these Categories.
📝 NOTE: On your Vanilla community Category page, Headings display according to your theme.
Generally speaking, Headings help visually organize your Categories, making it easier for your users to find the content they're looking for. Check out the image below to compare how the backend Dashboard structure translates to the front end of your Vanilla community.
Click the link below to access a video expanding on what you learned in this article.