Mercer County Park Commission
Strategy, Design, Development, Support
The Mercer County parks system in New Jersey spans the Townships of West Windsor, Hamilton, and Lawrence. With year-round recreation facilities, a diverse lineup of events, and a still-growing footprint, the parks needed an easy way to communicate with visitors. In 2012, we were approached by Mercer County Park Commission to design and develop a website and mobile app, their online presence was—as is typical for many civic agencies—buried deep within a government website and frequently contained outdated information.
With a friendly interface, simplified navigation, and easy-to-maintain content, the new site we designed provides information on the latest news, events, and festivals, as well as nature guides and a comprehensive listing of all its parks and facilities. And to help compensate for a lack of physical signage within the park, the app’s robust map helps users navigate the park.
To build the app, we created an entirely new map of the park system through an extensive GPS survey. This survey was critical—inaccurate online map services provide directions that send visitors driving through a lake! We developed accurate depictions of trails, paths, roadways, buildings, and natural elements, including dimensional renderings of architectural landmarks for easy recognition.
The success of the first app led to the design and development of a second app in 2014 for the Commission's second most frequented park: Mercer Meadows. The Mercer Meadows app integrated into the same content management system built for the website and their first app.
This integration simplifies work for the Commission staff by allowing them to edit all their content within a single platform and have it update simultaneously on the website and both apps.
Given the breadth of the site and the corresponding apps, the Commission agreed with our recommendation that a dedicated communications manager would be necessary to maintain its online presence to ensure accuracy and relevance.
Since 2011, we have worked with AIGA to create websites and apps for a variety of annual conferences and events. This time, instead of thinking of the conference site as a one-off, we decided to use our years of experience to begin developing a flexible, customizable event site builder and platform, which eventually became FRMWRK.IO.
Instead of sticking to the limited functionality of off-the-shelf event software, our platform includes a robust set of widgets, content types, and visual themes, to allow the creation of a full website, not just a registration page that sells tickets. Event sites include video, social integration, detailed speaker and event information with search and filter functionality, related links, and a more stylish sponsor section—all built into our platform.
The website features seamless transitions, fast load times, and a less jarring experience when using search, filters, and other tools, as only content that changes needs to reload, as opposed to the entire page.
Conference attendees also had the opportunity to download a dedicated mobile app for Apple and Android phones designed to enhance their event experience.
The development of a single codebase meant we could streamline the development of the website and the mobile app, and make simultaneous updates across all the platforms without concern for redundancy issues.