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Parent page field & breadcrumb-based navigation
Learn about the new Parent page field and breadcrumb-based navigation.

Parent page and breadcrumbs

The Parent page field and the breadcrumbs it generates give authors greater control over how content appears and connects within the Mass.gov site architecture. This simplified site structure is designed to help people find content more easily.
Breadcrumbs appear as links above the “Offered by” links and the page title of Mass.gov content. They help site visitors find their way to relevant information regardless of where they start.
Breadcrumbs start with the direct parent of the current page on the far right, and it keeps listing parents of parents until it gets to the home page icon on the far left. If a breadcrumb gets too long, it will compress itself and only show the first top-level page under the home page and the direct parent and grandparent of the current page. An ellipse button will allow visitors to expand the breadcrumb to see all levels.
Breadcrumbs as shown on the live site.
The mobile version of the breadcrumb will always show all levels but will load scrolled so that the right-most portion of the breadcrumb is in view. Visitors can see the rest of the breadcrumb by swiping.

About the 'Parent page' field

The Parent page field appears under the “Overview” tab and above the Organization(s) field on most content types.
This field was prepopulated for all existing Mass.gov content based on an algorithm in January 2022, but the parent can be changed by content owners at any time. Only 1 parent can be assigned per page (although the page may be linked to from any number of pages).
The parent page selection in the CMS will dictate the start of the breadcrumb.
Filling in this field is required to publish any new content that publishes as a page, with a few exceptions. Parents are not required for content that is part of a page such as Contact Information or Fees since these content types do not display as their own pages.
Note: You can create a new page and save a pre-published draft without a parent page. To publish that draft, you must select a parent page. Topic or Organization pages are the exception — the parent page field is optional.
For Topic pages and Organization pages, the Parent page field is optional since these are already high-level pages on Mass.gov. Topic pages are meant to lead up to the home page and can only have other topic pages as parents. Only the Mass Digital team can make changes in Topic page Parent page fields as we work to maintain a carefully curated topic hierarchy.
The Parent page field’s autofill will only show content types that are allowed as parents for the page you are editing (learn more about the specific content types you can select as a parent).
When the Parent page field is filled in, you will see a preview underneath that CMS field of the breadcrumbs that will appear on the site.
Breadcrumbs preview.
Ideally, if a user were to follow the breadcrumbs upward toward the home page, they would eventually land on a Topic page. This allows visitors to find related content from multiple organizations. In certain circumstances, an Organization page may be appropriate if the content doesn’t belong on a Topic page.
Only Topic and Organization pages are allowed at the top level directly beneath the home page as they are the only types where a Parent page field is optional. An empty parent field on those types will show the home page as the parent.
To unpublish a page, you will need to assign any child pages it has to new parents.

Use “Short titles” to improve breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs can get long if they link to pages with long titles. One way to make breadcrumbs more scannable is to use the Short title field found on most content types under the “Overview” tab.
Use short titles to improve breadcrumbs.
This will abbreviate a page’s full title when it appears in a breadcrumb, but won’t change the page title itself. We recommend that you try to shorten the actual title before you decide to add a Short title. The Short title is only used in the breadcrumb. Because of this, there are cases where you may be able to safely eliminate some contextual words in the breadcrumb
In this example, you could eliminate the organization’s name from most of the breadcrumbs.
With full titles:
  • Home
  • Health & Social Services
  • MassHealth
  • Information for MassHealth Providers
  • Prior Authorization for MassHealth Providers
  • MassHealth Guidelines for Medical Necessity Determination
  • MassHealth Guidelines for Medical Necessity Determination A - G
  • MassHealth Guidelines for Medical Necessity Determination for Absorbent Products
With possible short titles:
  • Home
  • Health & Social Services
  • MassHealth
  • Information for Providers
  • Prior Authorization
  • Guidelines for Medical Necessity Determination
  • MassHealth Guidelines for Medical Necessity Determination for Absorbent Products (this is actual page title, not in the breadcrumb)
You would not want to change the full titles of the pages to be what is shown because they would be unclear if someone lands on those pages from search.

More ways to manage parent pages

Beyond editing parents on a page-by-page basis, you can use the “Hierarchy” tab to manage multiple child pages of parents high up in the site architecture (say an Organization or Service page).
This allows for dragging and dropping child pages to move them to different parents elsewhere in the hierarchy. The order of children under any parent is not meaningful and is not saved, so there is no need to order children. (If you want links to the child pages to appear on parent pages that involves a separate process of manually adding those links to the parent page.)
Click "Update children” at the bottom of the screen when you are finished moving pages.
Hierarchy tab
You can move some or all of a parent page’s children to other parents via the “Move children” tab. You might want to use this tool if you are unpublishing a parent page and need to reassign its child pages.
Use filters, such as labels, to narrow down the child pages you want to move and select “Change parent” at the bottom of the screen when you’re done.
Children pages as listed in the CMS

Parent page reports

Visit the "Reports" tab under the “Content” tab in the CMS to explore several reports designed to help you track and analyze parent page assignments. Reports include:
  • Children with parents
  • Pages with deep and long breadcrumbs
  • Pages with questionable parents selected during bulk population
  • Pages with no published parent

Parent page field Q&A

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