How to Make Paragraphs in Drupal (Non-Techie) End User Friendly

How to Make Paragraphs in Drupal (Non-Techie) End User Friendly

Please! No more praising the life-changing, the groundbreaking Paragraphs module! No more new content about what a "bundle of convenience" it is, about its easy to use interface or about its great Drupal developer-targeting features (for instance we, developers, get to reuse code in Paragraphs, remember?). I've done my part “praising” it already here, on this blog! Instead, today I'll do my best to help you solve one of your “empowering the end user” dilemmas: how can you make paragraphs in Drupal easy to use for your clients? More precisely for your actual end-users: your clients' content editors themselves!

Let's start with the name itself: “paragraphs” might mean “field entities” for us, the Drupal developers, but for the end-user it just means longer or shorter “chunks” of written text putting together a given piece of content.

So, once faced with image paragraphs, text paragraphs in Drupal or embedded video paragraphs, the term itself will just confuse them, wouldn't you agree?

A little empathy hasn't hurt anyone! On the contrary, putting yourself into your end-users' shoes (in this case realizing what the term “paragraphs” actually means for them) is the shortest “path” to a happy client!

Then, we could continue with content editors' legitimate expectation to get empowered to apply any type of changes to their paragraphs by themselves. On the spot, on the fly, without any intervention (and therefore without growing dependent on) from their more technical savvy colleagues. 

In this respect, to help you respond to all these predictable expectations coming from your end-users when in comes to easily handling the set of paragraphs that you'll deliver them along with the Drupal sites that you'll develop, I've put together 3 useful tips for you to consider and to implement:

1. Pick a New Paragraphs Field Title, More Meaningful For Your End Users

“Paragraphs”! If for us, the Drupal developers, everything's crystal clear, there's no ambiguity about what that this term might refer to, well, for content editors:

  • it doesn't have the same meaning as it does for us, who are more than familiar with such “drupalisms”
  • it can, on the other hand, lead to confusion and misinterpretation

Take this real-life situation: a content editor needs to add panels to a given piece of content. Although “panels” are just some “paragraphs” fields (for us), it would make all the difference to give them precisely this name: “panels” (instead of the too generic “paragraphs”)!

So, you change the paragraph title into “Panels”!

How? Easy:

  1. you navigate to Manage Form Display tab in the parent's entity (where you'd normally set up your Paragraphs reference field)

  2. you set up whether the title of that particular paragraphs field should be its plural or its singular form, for instance, and enter the paragraph's newly picked name itself (in our case “Panels”)

And now, all of a sudden, it all makes much more sense to your end-users: they'll know exactly what type of content they're adding as they use the content edit form!
How to Make Paragraphs in Drupal (Non-Techie) End-User Friendly- rename the field titles

2. Add Publishing Options to Each Paragraph

It's one type of “end-user empowerment” that Drupal developers often overlook, since this feature is not exactly “in your face”.

And here's how you do it:

  1. you navigate to Paragraph Type- Manage Form Display
  2. you take the “published” field out of the Disabled section
  3. next you select the “Single On/off checkbox” from the drop-down menu there 

And there you have it! You've just empowered your client's content editors to set up that a paragraph should get displayed only when that specific box is checked.

A more than useful functionality to trigger if you think of a slideshow, for instance, when you need pieces of content to get alternatively visible and invisible and so on.

How to Make Paragraphs in Drupal (Non-Techie) End-User Friendly- add publishing options to each paragraph

3. Empower Your End Users to Edit Paragraphs in Drupal Separately

I'll appeal to your sense of empathy once again: try to imagine your end users striving to efficiently manage a whole heavy and increasingly complex “ecosystem” of paragraphs “piled up” onto the same piece of content. 

The more of them there are, the more challenging organizing them and applying changes to them it gets!

So, put on your “superhero suit”, I mean your “Drupal developer suit” and: save the day (once again)! Go ahead and install the Paragraphs Edit module!

It will add contextual links to each paragraph! Links which will enable editors to simply edit, delete or/and clone paragraphs separately, with no restriction to apply the same changes at the whole page's level.

In short: you'll ensure your clients a streamlined user experience by doing nothing more complex than a Drupal module installation!

4. Why Go Beyond The Paragraphs in Drupal's Default User Experience?

Of course that this is a rhetorical question! 

The much-talked-about end-user empowerment in Drupal is something that all clients can enjoy, by default, after all.

Striving to go beyond Drupal's pre-built end user conveniences and to ensure new ones for your clients (like it's the case with the enriched paragraphs in Drupal experience) is what will grant you “returning clients” instead of just “one-time” happy clients!

Any questions you might have or issues you might encounter as you implement these 3 tactics here, feel free to leave them in the comments section here below!