Public & visitor feedback
Topic pages
Learn about Topic pages, which are navigational pages that highlight links to more detailed content.

Why use this content type?

Topic pages play a key role in the website’s overall navigation design.
They help organize Mass.gov content by grouping links to Service and other pages, as well as to documents that are related but may be owned by different state organizations. Links also can go to offsite applications or even non-Mass.gov pages.
Examples of Topic pages:
These pages are designed to be simple and to the point, without images or text explanations – they are meant to serve a purely navigational role.
Fishing & Hunting Topic page
These high-level “parent” pages are designed for two different needs:
  1. 1.
    Visitors who want to browse more broadly. They may have landed on a deeper page and want to see more about the topic they are within. When breadcrumbs are released, there will often be a link to a Topic page in the breadcrumb, especially to the left side of it.
  2. 2.
    Visitors who start broadly, maybe from the home page, and want to drill deeper. This is a rarer situation, as most visitors come from a search engine to a deeper page.
The highest-level, most general Topic pages on Mass.gov are those at the top of the home page: Living, Working, Learning, Visiting & Exploring, and Your Government. These pages will be eliminated as part of upcoming navigation changes. We may still use these groupings on the home page of Mass.gov but there won’t be Topic pages with these names.
Page-level and Organization Alerts do not appear on Topic pages.

Your role with Topic pages

Topic pages can only be created by the Mass Digital team. We do this to maintain a carefully structured Topic hierarchy across Mass.gov.
You can, however, request a new Topic page through ServiceNow. Be sure to check first whether a similarly named page exists.
Your Topic page request should include the following:
  • A simple title
  • A 1-to-2 sentence description of your page’s purpose (not to be shown)
  • URLs of all links that you'd like to include and their order (you can update these once it’s published)
  • Which higher-level Topic page yours should be linked from.
Only the Mass Digital team can fill in the Topic page title, parent page, short description, and related topics fields. Depending on the page, other fields may not be accessible to you, and if so, will appear as read-only. Note that the parent page field is optional for Topic pages. Topic pages can only have other Topic pages as their parents.
You can add, remove, and reorder links on most Topic pages, as well as add, edit, and remove headings called Link group categories that can display above lists of links. When doing so, you’ll want to keep in mind that Topics may have relevance to other state government organizations that also have links on the page.
A small number of Topic pages at the very highest levels of the topic tree will be disabled for link management by authors and editors. If you want to suggest a change to those, please make a ServiceNow request

Topic page design

Topic pages have little content of their own. Under the “Overview” tab, they have a title, an optional short description (which we recommend not using as it tends to add little value and makes it harder for visitors to get to the links on the page), and then a list of links to pages and documents.
Non-Mass.gov team authors can only fill in certain fields. We’ll focus on those in the following sections of this article.

Overview

Organization(s)

Add 1 or more Organizations, whose names will appear at the bottom of the page next to Related Topics, which can only be added by the Mass.gov team.
Related Organizations and Topics

Intended audience

This field isn’t being used yet, so there’s no need to fill it in.

Labels

Labels are optional, but can be used to group content and documents for searching within the CMS or to automate the process of creating a Curated List. Start typing in the Labels field to choose an existing label or add a new one by entering it directly.
Be sure to create specific labels: the label field is shared across the whole site; your label should be unique and identifiable to prevent overlap with others.
These are the heart of Topic pages, and non-Mass.gov team authors can add, remove, and update links on most Topic pages.
Optional. These display as non-clickable headings above a group of related links. If any links on a page are listed under a Link group category, then all other links on the page must appear under such a heading as well.
URLs to pages on our off Mass.gov. You can customize the link text.
Link group categories and Links fields
Depending upon how a Topic page is set up, links to sub-Topic pages are clickable or not. By default, these sub-Topic pages show only their title, but can be expanded to expose clickable links, including to other sub-Topic pages. This design keeps Topic pages compact, allowing for efficient scanning of information.
Expandable Link Groups
In addition to the pages and documents linked in the main Topic page lists, Related Organizations and Related Topics can be added to the bottom of Topic pages pointing to select Organization and sibling Topic pages.
Related Organizations is populated via the Organization(s) field under the "Overview" tab.
The Related Topics can only be filled in by Mass Digital team. Authors must request changes via ServiceNow.

Linking to Topic pages from other content

You can add Topic page links as Featured Topics to Organization pages under the “Content” tab. You’ll find an “Add Featured Topics” button within the Section Content field of Org pages.

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