Alerts

Use on individual pages for important, time-sensitive information.

Summary

You can create page-level Alerts to tell your users important, time-sensitive information, such as a location is closed, or that the application linked from your Service page is down for maintenance.

You can post page-level Alerts to ALL Mass.gov content types except:

  • Contact Information

  • Fees

  • Legacy Redirects

Note: We highly recommend not using Alerts for advisories, news, or nonessential content.

Also, keep in mind that many users access Mass.gov on phones. Creating Alerts substantially affects their reading experience, since their screens are small enough that Alert banners might take up 2 or even 3 lines. Only post Alerts when you really need to.

Important: If you're creating an Alert for a regional or statewide emergency, follow these best practices.

Overview tab

Alert severity

You can create two types of Alerts on Mass.gov: Emergency and informational. Emergency Alerts include “Alert!” in small caps before your message:

Emergency Alert

Informational Alerts include “Notice”:

Informational Alert

Alert placement

This section lets you tell Mass.gov which pages you want your Alert to appear on. You can add as many Mass.gov pages as you’d like.

Important: Only users with certain permissions can create sitewide Alerts. If you don't have these permissions, you must select "On specific pages" to publish your Alert.

Organization(s)

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.

This field also powers the "Offered by" relationship indicator (the small green rectangle(s) in the upper left corner) on each Mass.gov page. Making sure yours is right will help users who land on your content find their way to your Organization Page.

Details tab

Alert message

You have lots of options for creating content in the Alerts content type. However, not all of that content will appear on the page(s) you post your Alert to. Here’s what visitors to those pages will see:

  • The “Alert!” or “Notice” tag

  • Anything you enter into the Content field

Note: Keep what you write in the Content field short. Large modern screens fit about 120 characters, but small screens will “wrap” your message (so that it takes up multiple lines).

For example, here's what an Alert looks like on a desktop...

...and here's the same Alert on mobile:

Full-page Alert displays

If you don’t fill out the Link field, your Alert will become a link to your Alert’s full-page display.

The Alert’s full-page display will include:

  • The Alert headline

  • Content

  • Timestamp

You may also add the following (optional) items:

  • More content, using the rich text field

  • iFrames and Videos

  • Contact Information

  • Related links

You can move rich text, iFrames, and videos up or down using the crosshairs in the upper left:

If you fill out the Link field, your Alert content will become a link to an internal page (example: Info Detail or Service Detail) or a page on an external site. Linking to an Information Detail or Service Detail page is a useful way for giving users more detailed information about your alert. The link will appear in the alert message as "Read more >."

Show alert message only

If there's nothing more to add to the alert message, select this option and that's all visitors will see.

Adding more than 1 Alert message

Any additional Alert messages you add will appear beneath the first:

Again, keep users with small screens in mind. Stacks of Alert messages will make your pages harder to read.

Scheduled unpublishing

You will need to set both the Publish on and Unpublish on date on your alert, so that the alert is only on a page during the time the message is relevant.

You’ll find a dropdown called scheduling options in the gray box on the right side of the editing interface. This lets you schedule when Alerts go live and expire. More on using the schedule options feature here.

Creating an alert during a major emergency

If you're creating an alert in response to a regional or statewide emergency, here are a few steps and tools to make sure you're providing the right information during a time of crisis.

  • Create an Information Details page to set up a 1-stop-shop for all the information you need to share with constituents. You can link to this page from your Alert and add to it as needed.

  • Make sure to add your alert to all pages you believe visitors would see it. We suggest you target Organization and Services pages as well as those that typically get the most traffic. You can get a high-level view of your pages' traffic from the All content screen.

  • It's a good idea to check with authors from other organizations to help avoid creating duplicative content. If you share affected services, consider collaborating on your emergency Information Details page and sharing he Alert across both of your content.

  • If you believe an emergency warrants a sitewide alert, please contact the Governor's Office or the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA)

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