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Improve your Craft CMS skills

How To Group Sections In Craft CMS

10 min read
Shape April 2022 HR 189

Struggling to wrangle your unruly sections in Craft CMS? As your site expands, messy section organization only gets worse making content creation a nightmare. This guide shares actionable tips to thoughtfully group related sections together - improving permissions, authoring workflows, and flexibility. Learn the insider best practices to transformCraft’s sections from tangled mess to structured masterpiece.

Thoughtfully group related sections in Craft CMS by first auditing existing sections, planning optimal structures aligned to site information architecture, then utilizing intuitive naming conventions. Leverage cascading group permissions and drag-and-drop tools to nest sections efficiently. Save incrementally and revisit organization as site needs evolve.

Grouping Sections in Craft CMS

Overview of Craft CMS and its Section Architecture

Craft CMS is a flexible, user-friendly content management system optimized for creating custom digital experiences. At its core, Craft utilizes a modular, section-based architecture to organize content.

Sections act as containers that hold different types of content or functionality. For example, a "News" section may contain blog posts, while a "Products" section houses product categories and entries. The section model allows Craft sites to be structured in a way that maps to the actual content types and relationships needed.

With sections, site admins can define custom fields, taxonomies, and permissions for each content type. Sections make it easy to reuse content structures across different parts of a site. Overall, sections are the foundation of Craft's structure and content modeling capabilities.

Benefits of Thoughtful Section Grouping

Taking the time to thoughtfully group related sections together provides several advantages for Craft CMS sites:

Improved Organization

Strategically grouping connected sections into parent groups (like "Blog", "Store", "Company") creates a clean, intuitive site architecture. Related sections are bundled together, making it easier for content creators to orient themselves.Less time is wasted hunting for the right section.

Easier Navigation

Section grouping also improves the editorial navigation experience. When editing content, the Craft CP menu and breadcrumbs make more sense when related sections are nested. This enhances the workflow for content editors.

More Efficient Permissions

Section groups allow admins to set blanket permissions for all grouped sections at once. For example, access to "Blog" sections could be granted in one step. Without grouping, permissions need to be set individually for every section.

Optimized IA

Thoughtful section grouping results in an optimized information architecture from the visitor perspective too. Related content types feel cohesively organized on the front-end site.visitor navigation is intuitive when content sections are logically grouped.

Consistency Across Sites

For publishers or agencies managing multiple Craft sites, keeping sections consistently grouped improves team efficiency. Content teams can seamlessly switch sites and maintain workflow with familiar section organization.

Future-Proofing Content Structure

Taking the time to architect sections logically from the start prevents disjointed sprawl as new sections and content types are added later. Sections will scale while retaining organization.

Overall, a purposefully grouped section structure ensures Craft CMS sites remain intuitive as they grow. Content creators stay efficient, visitors enjoy seamless navigation, and admins are able to manage permissions effectively. The benefits span across user types and demonstrate the power of smart information architecture with Craft's flexible sections.

Prerequisites for Effective Section Grouping

Understanding Information Architecture

Before diving into section organization in Craft CMS, it's important to have a solid grasp of the site's overall information architecture (IA). The IA essentially maps out the structure and relationships between different content and functionality on a website.

Having clarity on the optimal IA will inform how sections should be logically grouped together. For example, an e-commerce site's IA may dictate a clear separation between product content and brand blog content. This separation would be reflected in the section groupings.

Conducting an IA review involves inventorying all site elements and functionalities, analyzing connections between them, and planning an intuitive site structure. A streamlined IA improves findability for visitors and creates an efficient authoring environment for content teams.

So taking time to properly map out and understand the ideal IA is a key prerequisite before implementing major changes to section organization in Craft.

Auditing Current Sections

Once the target IA is defined, the next step is auditing the existing sections and content structure in Craft. This allows you to take full inventory of all current sections and assess how they are related to each other.

The audit process involves:

  • Cataloging every section currently set up in Craft.

  • Detailing the type of content, taxonomies, fields etc within each section.

  • Analyzing connections and relationships between sections.

  • Flagging any structural issues or inconsistencies.

  • Assessing how sections currently align with target IA.

Thoroughly reviewing the existing section setup ensures you fully understand what's in place before making any changes. It also surfaces any gaps between the current vs ideal state informed by the IA planning.

The audit acts as a critical foundation for the next stage of strategically grouping sections.

Planning Optimal Group Structures

With the target IA defined and current sections audited, the next prerequisite is actively planning out the optimal new section groups and organization.

It can be helpful to sketch out draft section grouping structures on paper or a whiteboard before configuring them in Craft. Visually mapping groups helps assess what makes the most sense given:

  • The site's IA and content relationships

  • Logical connections between sections

  • Existing sections and types identified in audit

  • Required user permissions and groups

  • Other key factors unique to the project

Planning gives a chance to experiment with different grouping scenarios first. This allows you to think through all impacts before diving into setup in Craft, preventing missteps.

It also builds alignment across stakeholders on the new groups before any heavy lifting occurs. Taking the time to properly plan section organization helps ensure changes go smoothly.

With these prerequisites met - understanding IA, auditing existing sections, and mapping optimal structures - you'll be well positioned for efficient, effective section grouping in Craft CMS. Changes will sync up with the ideal site architecture and content relationships.

Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Section Groups

Navigating to Section Management

To start organizing sections into groups in Craft CMS, first navigate to the Section Management settings. From the main control panel, go to Settings > Sections. This is where all existing sections are listed and new groups can be created.

The Sections index page displays all current sections available in the site build. Section names, handles, and entry counts are shown in a sortable table view. Sections can be reordered here by dragging and dropping rows.

This is the hub where you'll return to create and manage new section groups for the site. Keep the Sections settings page open as we walk through the hands-on steps next.

Configuring a New Section Group

Follow these steps to create your first new section group in Craft:

  1. Click the "+ New Group" button at the top of the Sections index page.

  2. In the modal that appears, give your new group a descriptive name. For example, "Blog" or "Store". Click "Save".

  3. The new group heading now appears in the main Sections table. Click and drag existing sections under the group to nest them.

  4. For example, dragging the "News" and "Articles" sections under a new "Blog" group nests them together.

  5. You can also optionally create sub-groups by dragging a group under another parent group. This allows multi-level nesting.

  6. Reorder sections or groups by dragging rows. Nesting sections visually groups them together for better organization.

  7. Click "Save" at the top to save the section structure whenever changes are made. The new groups will now be reflected across the control panel and front-end.

That covers the basic step-by-step process for creating a section group and nesting related sections together in Craft CMS.

Repeating the Process for Additional Groups

The steps to make a new section group and organize related sections together can be repeated to create any number of groups required for your site architecture.

Section management in Craft is an iterative, ongoing process as new site functionality gets added over time.

Some best practices as you continue structuring sections into meaningful groups:

  • Ensure groups align with the site's information architecture and content relationships. Keep related sections bundled logically.

  • Audit existing sections and content types first before moving sections around.

  • Start small, introducing a few new groups at a time versus reorganizing everything at once.

  • Communicate changes to content teams so they can adjust their workflows.

  • Revisit section organization every so often as site needs evolve. Tweak groups as needed.

Thoughtfully organizing sections into semantic, intuitive groups takes time but pays off with a streamlined authoring environment. Put in the work upfront to maximize efficiency as your Craft CMS site continues growing.

Setting User Permissions for Section Groups

Accessing the Group Permissions Screen

Once section groups are configured in Craft CMS, the next step is setting up user permissions. Group permissions allow granting access to multiple sections at once.

To access the permissions screen for a group:

  1. Navigate to Settings > Sections in the Craft control panel.

  2. Click on the desired group heading (e.g. "Blog").

  3. Select "Permissions" in the secondary nav that appears.

This opens the permissions screen for just that group. It displays any user groups granted access to the group currently. Now permissions can be assigned.

Assigning Permission to User Groups

The permissions screen allows selecting which user groups should have access to all sections within that group. For example:

  • To allow "Content Authors" to access the "Blog" section group, check that group under the "Allowed user groups" column.

  • Checking the box grants the "Content Authors" group permission to all sections nested under "Blog".

  • Multiple user groups can be allowed.

  • conversely, user groups can be prohibited access by checking boxes under "Disallowed user groups".

Assigning group-level permissions in this way cascades down and automatically propagates to all sections within that group by default. This saves time compared to assigning access individually.

Permissions can be broader at the parent group level, then fine-tuned later at the individual section level if needed.

Cascading vs Individual Section Permissions

When group permissions are saved, they cascade down and apply to all sections nested beneath that group automatically. This saves time and effort.

However, if unique permissions are needed for certain sections, they can be customized at the individual section level:

  1. Navigate into the specific section you want to override (News, Articles etc).

  2. Select "Permissions" in the secondary nav.

  3. Make any allowed/disallowed group adjustments just for that section.

  4. The custom section permissions will now override the broader group-level rules.

This ability to set cascading group permissions, while still customizing individual sections as needed, provides flexibility.

For example, the "Blog" group may allow "Content Authors" access by default. But the "News" section nested within may prohibit "Content Authors", allowing only "News Editors" access.

Taking the time to properly structure sections into groups gives convenient cascading permission control. But individual sections can always be fine-tuned.

Best Practices for Section Grouping

Common Group Models

When organizing sections in Craft CMS, some proven, common grouping models include:

News Sections - Nest all news-related sections like Blog, News, Press Releases, Announcements together under a "News" parent group.

Store Sections - Bundle all ecommerce sections such as Products, Categories, Shopping Cart, Checkout together under an "Store" group.

Company Sections - Group informational sections like About Us, Culture, Careers together under a "Company" parent.

Documentation Sections - Nest support-focused sections including Documentation, FAQ, Forums under "Support".

Location Sections - For multi-location sites, bundle region-specific sections together under country/state/city groups.

These are just some examples of intuitive grouping models that make sense for many sites. Analyze content relationships and pick groupings aligned to your information architecture.

Aligning Groups with Workflows

When planning section organization, also consider how groups can support team workflows for content creators, review processes and publishing.

For example, a "News" group with a mandatory 2-person review before publishing could streamline news workflows. Ongoing maintenance workflows are also simpler when related sections are bundled.

Make sure groups align with content publishing cadences too. Group sections that are published on a daily cadence separately from monthly updated evergreen content, for example.

Section groups that are intuitive for content authors to navigate will be adopted more easily. Take the team's perspectives into account as well.

Planning for Future Growth

When determining section groups, try to build in flexibility for unanticipated future needs. Avoid locking down rigid group structures that can't accommodate new sections or content types down the road.

For instance, a generalized "Content Sections" group with granular sub-groups nested within gives room to drop in new sections later without disrupting the hierarchy.

Loose coupling between groups also prevents complicated dependencies. If a new section needs to be shared across multiple groups, the structure should accommodate that.

Build your groups thoughtfully but leave room for iteration. Leave "gaps" in the hierarchy to allow for growth without bloating group nesting levels too deep. Revisit periodically to keep organization aligned to evolving needs.

With smart models, alignment to workflows, and future flexibility in mind, Craft CMS section grouping can scale comfortably as site functionality grows over time. Lay the groundwork for smooth expansion.

Tips for Section Group Optimization

Naming Conventions

When creating section groups in Craft CMS, take care in naming each group descriptively based on the sections it contains. For example:

  • Product Sections → "Store"

  • About, Careers, Culture → "Company"

  • Blog, News, Podcasts → "News"

Consistent, semantic naming keeps the section organization intuitive as it scales. Some tips:

  • Use singular group names like "Company" rather than plurals like "Companies".

  • Keep names short but descriptive.

  • Mirror real-world relationships between the sections in each group through naming.

  • Namespace country or brand names if needed (Acme-Canada-Blog).

Taking the time to thoughtfully name groups from the start results in clean, logical grouping architecture.

Information Architecture Strategies

Optimizing the information architecture via section groups requires:

  • Auditing existing sections and content first before reorganizing.

  • Mapping out an ideal IA for the site upfront based on business goals, user needs, and content relationships.

  • Planning optimal groupings on paper based on the IA before configuring in Craft.

  • Introducing a few new groups at a time versus rearchitecting everything at once.

Starting section grouping early in the site build process allows the IA to evolve smoothly over time versus correcting issues reactively later.

Permission Planning

When planning out section groups, also formulate a permission plan early on:

  • Determine what user groups need access to what groups of sections.

  • Map groups to support workflow rules (e.g all News sections require 2 approvers).

  • Leverage cascading group permissions to simplify management.

  • Override selectively at the section level where needed.

By planning permissions proactively during grouping, you can maximize the cascading benefits.

Avoid complicated access issues down the road.

Optimizing Craft CMS section groups requires forethought, diligence, and care. But the time invested results in a clean, scalable site IA that delights both content authors and end users long-term.

Troubleshooting Common Section Group Issues

Sections Not Appearing in Group

A common issue when first organizing sections into groups is that certain sections may not be appearing nested under the expected group.

This is typically caused by an inadvertent drag-and-drop mistake when configuring the groups. Some troubleshooting tips:

  • Double check that the missing section is definitely assigned to the intended parent group. Sections can only live in one group.

  • Scan all groups to see if it was accidentally nested elsewhere. Search for the section name.

  • Check for unintended nesting under sub-groups. Sections may be buried deep.

  • Utilize the section reordering and drag-and-drop to move the section back to the proper group.

  • Save the group changes and clear caches before rechecking.

With a mix of attention to detail and using Craft's drag-and-drop tools, mistaken group nesting can be rectified.

Group Changes Not Applying

Another common frustration is making updates to a section group but not seeing the changes reflected on the front-end.

This is typically because the group changes were not properly saved after dragging sections around:

  • Be sure to click the "Save" button at the top of section management after any drag-and-drop changes.

  • Double check the new structure is persisting after saving and page refresh.

  • Clear caches then view the front-end to allow group changes to display.

  • Ensure your local or staging environment is syncing the latest content updates.

With large group changes, it's best to save incrementally in case issues arise. Saving frequently avoids losing major reorganizations.

Cascading Permissions Not Working

Finally, cascading permissions from a group to nested sections may sometimes not work as expected. Issues to check:

  • Verify the group permissions screen is actually saving changes properly. Double check settings.

  • Check for any section-level permission customizations that could override the broader group rules.

  • Confirm user groups assigned at the group level are valid and exist in the system.

  • Clear caches and any user sessions before retesting permission changes.

  • Temporarily remove custom section overrides to isolate the problem.

With cascading permissions, isolating troublesome sections and testing changes incrementally is key to troubleshooting. Reach out to Craft support if issues persist.

Shape April 2022 HR 202
Andy Golpys
- Author

Andy has scaled multiple businesses and is a big believer in Craft CMS as a tool that benefits both Designer, Developer and Client. 

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