Montgomery County, Maryland has one of the largest park systems in the country, with over 500 parks, trails, events centers, public gardens and facilities. The website is an important tool to connect park visitors, volunteers, employees and local residents with the information they seek.
BRINK was brought in to solve a number of user experience challenges: poor organization of the thousands of site pages, an outdated aesthetic, poor support for mobile devices, a lack of ADA accessibility, and an ineffective representation of the park experience. The end result: an award-winning website that has simultaneously served the needs of dozens of different stakeholder and user groups while proving that design in government doesn’t have to suck.
BRINK held workshops with seven different stakeholder groups, from top leadership down to the daily page editors. In these workshops, we uncovered organizational pain points and profiled different types of site visitors and the key actions they would take on the site.
From this discovery phase, we designed a dramatically improved user experience, helping Montgomery Parks break from the previous trap of organizing all of their content around internal divisions and causing confusion with the general public. Our new content plan also created more opportunities for user exploration around activity and lifestyle preferences instead of forcing them to know ahead of time what park or trail they are seeking.
Taking a rapid prototyping design approach, over the course of four sprints we iterated from sketches on graphing paper to a final, beautiful and usable site.
Because the Parks Department lacked an established brand style, we had a blank slate to create a fresh, approachable and modern visual language. We designed a simple style guide to govern not only our site design, but any future communications materials Montgomery Parks would design for brand continuity.
Use Stylistic Alternates when using the Usual typeface. This will be most apparent in the lowercase “a”, “k”, and “l”.
In addition to the complete redesign of the style and user experience, we revamped the backend system. The new website is built on a WordPress CMS with a clever modular approach that allows administrators to create highly customizable pages from the ground up using a variety of component types. This system also included a robust, customized hosting environment that enabled serious caching for blazing fast page loads, a staging environment for admin review prior to publication and an advanced system for handling user permissions.
The first version of the new website was launched in 2016. BRINK has continued to be a partner to Montgomery Parks in the years since, iterating and improving on the website while providing a variety of creative support services as needed.
Let’s see if we are the right fit.