What's a Decision Tree?

Walk people through the choices of a complicated process to until they reach a conclusion.


A Decision Tree (Beta) 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.

Schedule Office Hours with Mass Digital to get started with mapping out the Decision Tree.

When a Decision Tree is done

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?

Examples of Decision Trees created during the pilot process include How to find historic court records and Choosing the correct content type on Mass.gov

How Decision Trees are structured

There are 3 content types with the name Decision Tree in the “Add Content” menu:

  • Decision Tree

  • Decision Tree Branch

  • Decision Tree Conclusion

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.

Next steps

Learn more about how to make a Decision Tree using each of the Decision Tree content types:

How to make a Decision Tree

Decision Tree (Beta)

Decision Tree Branch

Decision Tree Conclusion