When I first got approached about this Desk.com project (and I was shown the desired designs and outcomes), the first thing I did was research whether Desk.com allows for a multi-tiered support portal which supports sub-categories.  This way we could have  Feature Categories within Product Categories and make everyones lives easier, both development wise and for the user.  This was a big part of the design for the portal and a big help for visitors since products could have specific features in need of support too.

You can imagine my shock when I learned that you can’t do this type of thing within their system without a mass amount of hoop jumping (you can read about it here).  Even then, it doesn’t really work the way we wanted it to.  And all we wanted a way to have sub-categories for our articles for easier grouping overall.  Alas, this was not to be.  At least not in their available setup.  Enter the workaround…

So even though they don’t support sub-categories, their template system does support conditional statements and quite a few different things you can put in them such as:

If visitor is on Category A page show this.  If visitor is on Category B page, show that.

Based on the above simple premise, you can now show different content based on whatever the category is, including direct links to which ever “sub”-categories you want, as long as you know the name of the category.  Thus, in the backend, you can setup a bunch of “Sub Categories” (in quotes because they would be regular categories to the system) for Category A and then in the front end, using the above conditionals you can do this:

If visitor is on Category A page, list sub-category links

If visitor is on “Sub-Category” page, show all articles for that category

Now keep in mind, in order to list the sub-category links, you have to manually put them into the template (within the conditional) since Desk.com doesn’t support sub-categories by default. But, as clunky as this is, it gets the job done in a system which doesn’t support sub-categories natively.

Have you used this method before?  Is there a better way than manually setting up the top level categories to link to the “sub-categories”?  Let me know what you think in the comments.


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