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Revolutionizing Outdoor Exploration Through an Updated Accessible Digital Experience

Case Study

Washington State Parks

Washington State Parks website homepage on a laptop screen
Washington State Parks website on a mobile phone in a person's hand
Washington State Parks logo

The Problem

The Washington State Parks website urgently needed a redesign. Customers faced challenges like fragmented information, disorganized navigation, and important alerts, such as burn bans, buried in overwhelming content. The site's lack of inclusivity, especially for those with disabilities, and failure to resonate with diverse ethnic backgrounds left many feeling excluded.

The website's non-mobile-friendly design and inaccessible features compounded issues, hindering its role as a public resource. Staff struggled to manage the site, facing difficulties in maintaining consistent and up-to-date information. A comprehensive overhaul was necessary to address these shortcomings and ensure a more inclusive, customer-friendly experience.

website home page screens

The Washington State Parks website before and after the redesign project. 

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The Solution 

In preparation for the website redesign, our team collaborated with WA Parks to create a comprehensive roadmap. This roadmap emphasized customer-centricity and inclusivity, drawing insights from research involving both current and potential park visitors. Specific priorities, goals, and actionable steps for implementation were outlined.

The roadmap led to key enhancements:

  • Content Transformation: Restructuring information architecture, introducing  a new taxonomy, and establishing content style guides for clarity. Implementing a governance model for content maintenance.
  • UX Design: Ensuring a consistent visual experience, accessible interactions, and new user flows.
  • Iterative Research: Conducting ongoing testing to enhance usability for diverse visitors, including those with disabilities.
  • Collaboration with Development Team: Working closely to align the website management system with updated content and design.
  • Training: Providing staff with training for effective use of the new website and clear, accessible content creation.
  • Organization Change Management: Supporting staff in understanding and adapting to work environment changes.

The revamped parks.wa.gov website, shaped by feedback from 400 visitors, now boasts a modern, inclusive, and accessible design, addressing long-standing usability issues, particularly on mobile devices.

Mobile website screens shown on phones

The Washington State Parks mobile website before and after the redesign project. 

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The Impact

The updated Parks website significantly enhances the park-finding experience for all visitors, offering easy navigation, accessibility for assistive technologies, and comprehensive park information. Trained in a human-centered approach, park staff use a user-friendly Content Management System (CMS) for efficient updates, ensuring current and relevant information. 

New features on the website include:

  • Effortless park searches based on location, features, and amenities.
  • Accessibility improvements such as screen readers, screen magnification, speech recognition software, or keyboard and trackball mouses
  • Details for a safe and informed park visit.
  • Seamless navigation to the reservation system.
  • Users can provide feedback for ongoing improvements, contributing to up-to-date information. 

Through comprehensive usability studies, the website's taxonomy, particularly the prominent "Find a Park" feature, has been shaped to allow visitors to locate parks based on specific needs, such as pet-friendly, available drinking water, accessible restrooms, and more. This approach enhances the experience for a wide range of park visitors, ensuring the website continues to meet diverse requirements.

Further Reading

Washington Launches Revamped State Parks Website
The Spokesman Review

Parks Launches New Website
Washington State Parks