Walk people through the choices of a complicated process until they reach a conclusion.
What's a Decision Tree?
A Decision Tree is an interactive tool that, like a flow chart, helps organizations walk people through the choices that make up a complicated scenario or process, as well as what solutions those choices lead to. Each time a person makes a choice, they follow one of the tree’s “branches,” until they reach a conclusion.
Scenarios that users could use a Decision Tree to present include:
Helping people decide if a service is right for them, or which part of the service is right for them
Explaining who is eligible for a service
Detailing multiple types of eligibility for a service
Outlining different combinations of documents that must be filed depending on the user’s situation
Decision Trees differ from the simpler How-to content type, which more directly helps users apply, pay, or take some other action. Decision Trees are more interactive than Guides, which present an overview of a complicated process or service that has predictable waypoints.
Note that we refer to this content type as "Decision Tree (Beta)" because it is a new content type and we anticipate tweaks as authors start using it in greater numbers.
Where to begin
It is crucial to map out Decision Trees outside of the CMS. Use paper or a Word doc to write out all of the questions and conclusions that will be used to create the Decision Tree in the CMS.
Users should try out their Decision Tree before making it public. This could include sharing it with other users, colleagues or Mass Digital. Imagine people making their way through the Tree: What questions will they have? What parts of the process might be confusing? Are any paths missing?
In order to make a functioning Decision Tree, users need to make at least 1 of each of these before they’re done. We recommend beginning with the Decision Tree content type, as this is the page type people will see at the beginning of the Decision Tree process.
Decision Trees shouldn't be confused with the Decision content type. Those are for documenting official decisions, rulings or opinions.
Should be specific and contain words people would use in a search engine.
Optional. This field is used to shorten the full title of a page when displayed in a breadcrumb. First aim to shorten the actual page title if it’s long, but not so much that the title is no longer clear if someone comes directly to a page from a search engine.
Optional. A mobile-optimized background image needs to be a minimum of 800x400 pixels. 256 MB limit. Allowed types: png, gif, jpg, jpeg.
Optional. Files must be less than 256 MB. Allowed types: png, gif, jpg, jpeg.
Required. Use the Description to make sure Mass.gov visitors know how to use the Tree and what to use it for.
One Decision Tree requirement is a Start Button, which is a link to the Decision Tree’s first Branch, where people will make their first choice. If a user does click on Add Start Button in the CMS, a link to a published Branch must be added along with a label for the Start Button (that is, the text, such as "Begin" or "Start here," that will appear on the button). If no Branches have been published yet, the user can come back later after setting up the first Branch to add the Start Button.
A Start Button can be eliminated by clicking on Remove link, then confirming this action.
A Disclaimer, or text that will be emphasized beneath the Start Button, can be added. The Disclaimer will appear on every page in the Decision Tree Branch. If a Disclaimer needs to be changed, these edits will be reflected through the rest of the Decision Tree.
Adding Related services does not mean a link to the Tree will appear on those Service pages. However, a link to any Related services will appear for users on the Decision Tree.
Here’s how the start page will appear to the public if all the fields described above are filled in:
Start of a decision tree
The required Parent page field appears on all public-facing content types and it powers the breadcrumb-based navigation system.
The Mass.gov team prepopulated the field based on an analysis of which child pages belong to which parent pages. Each child page can be assigned only 1 parent, or higher level page.
These connections, displayed in the form of breadcrumbs (i.e., links) above the page title, will help Mass.gov visitors find their way to relevant information regardless of where they start on the site.
Parent page field
You’ll find the Organization(s) field at the bottom of the first tab in every Mass.gov content type, and in documents. This field tells Mass.gov’s search which pages belong to which organization.
Making sure your Organization field is filled out correctly will help users who land on your content find their way to your Organization Page.
This is optional, however it is very helpful. Add one or more labels to be used to used for grouping and finding related content and documents within the CMS.
Start typing in the Label(s) field to choose an existing label from a dropdown menu that will appear or add a new label by entering it directly.
Learn more about how to make a Decision Tree using each of the Decision Tree content types: