Creating and customizing your projects

Design your project to your needs: pick your participation method, use a timeline, add events, and customize the input form.

Stijn Zwarts avatar
Written by Stijn Zwarts
Updated over a week ago

To create a project you can start from scratch or start from a template. Once you have created a project, you can start building and customizing it, by adding timeline phases, project tags, descriptions, images, organizing your projects in folders, setting access rights etc…

The timeline and creating your first phase

A timeline allows users to grab at a glance the chronology of your participation process. Phases are the different steps of the process, usually going from broad crowdsourcing of input through refining and to the definition of end proposals.

After you have created your "project", you have to setup your first phase. Every project has at least one phase. If you only add one phase without an end date, this project will just act as a continuous project.

As soon as you add more phases or add an end date to your first phase, the timeline will be shown.

You can add as many phases to a project as you wish. Adding a new phase is as simple as clicking the + button next to the last phase on your timeline. When you want to edit or consult the phase and the information of the linked method, you just have to click the phase on the timeline.

Per phase: Provide short and actionable titles and descriptions that are clear, concise and detailed to ensure participants know what to do and expect in each phase.

Project Settings

Customizing with images and descriptions

All the settings related to the project can be found in the project settings, which you open from the button in the top right corner.

Every project has a short project description that is, together with a project image, shown on the homepage. This and other settings are defined in the Project settings through the ‘General’ and ‘Description’ tabs. You can fully customize your longer project description, using the wysiwyg-editor options or by using the content builder.

Customizing your project tags

Whether you generate dozens, hundreds or even thousands of ideas through your platform, it helps to have a good method to categorize, filter and find ideas that relate to specific tags. This is possible through our tag functionality, which allows you and the users to categorize input.

Every CitizenLab ideation project comes with a list of pre-defined "default" tags that people can select from before they submit their idea (using the ‘input form’).

You can add and delete the tags that can be assigned to posts in this project. If you would like to add additional project tags, you can do so in the so-called Tag Manager in ‘Settings’ of your platform. Project tags must be added here before they can be added to individual projects!

You can specify the tags that are displayed for each of your ideation projects by going to the Project Settings. There is a tab called ‘Project tags’ - here, you can add, delete and re-order the tags for this project.

Note: if you delete a tag from the project, ideas that already have been tagged with will keep their tags. You can remove the tags manually in the Input Manager tab, or if you wish to delete all reference to the tag from all of your projects, you can delete it from the Settings panel in the Admin panel.

You can specify whether you want to enable Tags and whether Tags are an optional or required field in the Form builder when editing your input form.

Customizing the access rights

The access rights on the project level (which is different from the phase level access rights), allows you to decide who can see the project landing page. You can choose anyone, only admins and project managers or only a selected group.

Here you can also edit the access rights on a phase level. Here you can decides who can participate in each phase. You can also choose who will be the default assignee for each submitted inputs.

Most importantly you can add project managers here, who will be able to edit and manage the project. To add a project manager make sure they are registered on the platform.

Phase Settings

Customizing the input form

Customizing the input form only applies in projects where you collect input and/or feedback.

Remember, a project only has one input form, but you can configure it from every phase that uses the input form.

Phases & Methods

Once you've added all the phases, they will then appear all in one place for you to easily access, edit or delete the different phases.

For every phase you can pick the participation method, i.e. you choose what exactly you want your users to do during this phase: post ideas, comment or vote on questions, fill out a survey, Change this setting for every phase separately by (un)checking the boxes:

Project Settings - Adding an event to your project

You can find the events in the project settings, as the events aren't directly related to a phase, but always to the main project. Events allow you to link between your process and events happening outside the platform, for instance a launch event, offline participation sessions, theme-related events, or the release of final conclusions.

Events are displayed in a card view under timeline and separately in a tab on the project page. We still show the relevant events for every phase (happening when the phase is active) in that phase.

Using project ‘filters’ to structure projects on your homepage

Visitors to the platform can filter the projects by their status, geographic areas, or “tags”.

If your platform has multiple engagement projects, this solution allows the visitors to find relevant projects easier and you can guide them in engaging with different projects.

Status tabs

Projects will be filtered in the different tabs for ease of usage for the visitors. The visitors will be able to toggle between active, archived, or all projects and quickly access them.

When you put a project on 'Archived' in the admin panel, it will automatically move to 'Archived' on the homepage.


Visitors can filter projects below by selecting particular “Tags” and “Areas”. This helps visitors to filter only the projects that are applicable to particular “Tags”, “Areas” or combinations of both. Visitors can explore the projects they are interested in based on Tags or Areas with ease, find the projects quicker, and start engaging.

As an administrator, you can assign “Areas” and “Tags” to projects. To do this - visit Admin panel > Project > Edit > Project Settings > General. Under the “General” setting of a project, you can assign "Tags" and "Area filter" that are relevant for the project.

Admin can define terminologies and add new items of “Areas” or “Tags” under the platform's "Settings". To do this visit admin panel > Settings. Under "Tag Manager", you can set how the word "Tags" should appear the front page filter and add new "Tag" items. As an example; "Tags" can be defined as Departments, Topics, Strategic initiatives.

Under "Areas" you can set how geographic Areas in the front page filter appear and add new "Area" items. As an example: "Areas" can be defined as Neighbourhoods, Districts, Cities.

Organizing your projects in folders

With many projects going on, organising them into folders can help provide clarity by giving a clear structure of the different things going on, and where they fall into place.

There are many ways that you can use folders to manage your projects, and it all starts with re-imagining why they're used in the first place. Below, we've provided some examples and ideas for how you can use them:

1. Organizing multiple methods into 1 folder

In situations where you have a project where you want to utilise more than 1 engagement method (e.g. surveys and polls and participatory budgeting), you can create multiple projects and categorise them under 1 folder. Therefore, the "folder" then represents the "main project", with each "project" now representing each engagement method used instead.

2. Organizing by policy areas, themes, or districts

You can also use folders to organize your projects by certain policy areas, themes or neighbourhoods. For example, you could organize your platform with projects under broader "project umbrellas" such as Health & Safety, Education, Environment & Sustainability, Transport, etc. Alternatively, you can also create folders to store all projects related to certain districts. This way, it makes it easier for both you and users to know what you're working on, and easily learn more about it.

3. Ideas for alternative uses of projects and folders

Although projects are useful for collecting input on new ideas and proposals, this doesn't mean they can't be used for other reasons. For example, projects can also be used as dedicated spaces to collect feedback on public services, or spaces to engage community-centered research to commission and explore local issues. At the end of the day, projects and folders are just canvases and templates for you to paint and create your own platform - so don't be afraid to experiment!

Example of project folders from an admin's perspective

You can arrange the order of the projects within folders. Go to "Edit" folder, then using the double arrows at the far left of the projects. When you click and hold these arrows you can drag them to the desired place. They will then appear in the folder in that order.

Folder Rights

You can also invite people to help manage your folders (and the projects within them) by clicking on the project folder and going to 'Permissions'. Then simply add their emails into the textbox to make them 'Folder Managers'.

Folder managers can edit the folder description, create new projects within the folder, and have project management rights over all projects within the folder. However, they can not delete projects and they do not have access to projects that are not within their folder.

Notes on current functionality:

  • You can't have folders within folders.

  • Folders don’t have timelines

  • Folder cards are not shown the same as other project cards on the project homepage (does not give a time indication or the number of comments and participants)

  • Folders cannot be custom styled for a department or project

  • You cannot create smart groups of people who have participated in a folder, you need to select all projects that are in the folder

Changing the URL of a project

By default the slug (the part after '/projects/') is the title of the project. This can be changed in Project Settings. You can also change this for folders. Go to Edit folder and go to "Settings" and fill in you desired slug under "URL".

This is not possible for input or ideas.

"Locality and language part" of the URL

Because we offer different languages on the platform, the "locality and language part" or the url is necessary ('/en-CA/' or '/fr-BE/).

However, when sharing the url you can remove the "locality and language part" of the url.

After: website.en/project/make-the-city-centre-more-lively


  • You can leave out the locality and language when sending the url. However, it will reappear when they arrive on the website page.

  • You can not delete the "/project/" or "/folder/" section on the url.

  • We can set up a redirection for you. If you want to share a link that looks like this website.en/en-CA/project/make-the-city-centre-more-lively we can set up a redirect from website.en/lively-city-centre for instance. Reach out to support through the chat button in the admin panel if you want to use this in a project or folder.

Need more help or support? Contact our Support Team via the chat bubble.

Did this answer your question?