We are sometimes asked: "What's the difference between Tags and User-Defined Fields?"
The General Rule of Thumb: Tags are for Organization and User-Defined Fields are for storing Information. Tags are a way to label people who have a specific trait or belong to a particular group. User-defined fields are custom fields on the People Screen that supplement the built-in fields. User-Defined Fields are best for recording information about people or families. Tags are best when you need to know if a person is in a particular group or has a particular trait.
At first glance, the two look very similar. After all, they can both be used in the creation of Smart Lists. There are many ways to label or organize your people in which a Tag or a User-Defined Field would work equally well. Let's say you're wanting to create a Smart List of every person who has a background check in your church. There are two ways you can do this:
Option #1: Create a Tag called "Background Check" and assign this tag to every person who has had a background check.
Option #2: Create a Yes/No User-Defined field called "Background Check", then go through and change the value to Yes for every person who has had a background check.
For Yes/No (Boolean-type) data like this, it probably doesn't matter which option you pick. But you might ask yourself the question: Do I want to see a field called "Background check" on every person's People Screen profile? If so, then choose a User-Defined Field. If not, and if a simple label on a set of names will suffice, then use the tag approach.
But let's say you need to know the date that a nursery worker had their last background check. The best solution for this type of data is a User-Defined Field. This approach makes it easy to create a Smart List of people who have current background checks or a list of those who are up for renewal. Tags don't offer an easy way to find this information.
Tags = Organization
User-Defined Fields = Information
So when you're needing to store information that is specific to a person or family, User-Defined Fields are your best option. Here are some common uses for User-Defined Fields:
Some churches utilize a deacon family ministry plan, where each family in the church is under the care of a specific deacon. In this situation, you could create multiple tags (one for each possible option) and tag each person to show the option to which they are assigned. Alternatively, you could create one family-based User-Defined Field, choose the selection box option, and then assign each family to one of the options you define.
Tags are usually a better solution when it comes to organizing your people, or assigning people to groups. For any "groups" that you want to use attendance tracking or check-in, you'll need to use tags.
Common uses for tags include:
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