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Building services in Portland.gov

A guide to using the special "paragraphs" layout of the services builder tool on Portland.gov.

Presentation of City services in Portland.gov relies on a separate content management system from other pages on the website, called "paragraphs." On a service page, you can guide the user through a set of steps that end in a "call to action" for results --  actions that may differ depending on the mode (online, via email or in person, for instance) utilized. This guide will introduce and orient you to the special features of the paragraphs model for building services. 

Before beginning a new service, make sure you are positioned within the group where you want the service to reside. It may be a bureaus and offices page, a program page or a project page, but the service should be related to the functions and staff of the group it is assigned to. When you are in the group you want to add a service to, click the "Add content" button and choose "Group node (service)" from the options:

adding a service from group page

Header fields

The first few fields of a service entry will be familiar to you if you have created other kinds of content on Portland.gov. The title should be succinct and in plain English; Google only shows the first 78 characters of a search headline and so the box for entering the title is also limited. The summary field affords space for a broader description of the service, but it also should be kept simple and focused on explaining the direct purpose of the service, or the results the user should expect to achieve. 

service guide image 2

The next few fields help classify the importance and taxonomy associated with the service. The "time to complete" field serves to inform the user what to expect regarding the effort needed to gather necessary information, fill out forms, and receive a response. Each service should also have a community action tied to it, explaining in broad terms what it represents: a complaint or concern, a request for information, or paying a bill for example. The audience selections you make will help target searches towards those audiences, as will the topic keywords you choose to identify the subject matter of the service. 

Service mode --> Steps --> Paragraphs

The main section of the entry form has a nested, repeatable framework to handle the different ways your service may be accessed. As you go through the process of creation, you will follow the model above: one or more service modes contains one or more user steps, which themselves contain one or more paragraph items. 

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We begin with selection of the primary service mode. There are six different modes (online, phone, email, regular mail, in person, fax) and you may select up to five, to present as options to the user for accessing the service.

The first mode you select should be the way you would prefer community members to reach you. If your service is directly accessible online -- that is, some kind of web app or form that they can utilize without one of the other modes -- it is very likely that "online" should be the primary service mode, and so that would be your first choice for the "how shall community members access your service?" field. 

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Once the service mode is selected, you may begin to enumerate the steps involved in transacting the service. Each step has a title field and a text body. A typical first step title might be "Gather your information" or "Download and complete form." The body field is a short description of what's required for the step, or information about whether it's appropriate for the user to perform that step (a resident as opposed to a business perhaps, or whether the request is coming during business hours.)  

It's OK if there's only one step, such as immediately going online to a third party application. If you require multiple steps, they will be automatically numbered as you go. Putting aside the other information shown for a moment, note at right a typical service with three numbered steps.  

service guide image 5