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  • Writer's pictureLori Gagen

Raising the bar for Albion Parks & Recreation

As a lifelong resident of Albion, Indiana, I was quite excited and honored to launch Albion Park Department's first website in March 2022.

One of the driving forces for Casey Myers, Park Superintendent, to have a stand-alone website was the growing number of people from outside of Albion using Hidden Diamonds Park. This premier, 89-acre park offers some of the region's best (and free) recreational opportunities, including an 18-hole disc golf course, splash pad, and trails that wind through beautiful, natural areas.

Prior to the launch of a new website, patrons likely found some basic facts listed on a page within the Town of Albion's website:

It was difficult, however, to find the kinds of details many might seek before committing to a commute.

A municipal website serves a very specific purpose: to distribute information to citizens. In this case, the vision Myers had for promoting Albion's parks as a "destination" required something more. I began the project by gleaning as much information as I could about park features, amenities, fees, and public engagement. I asked Myers a litany of questions, the kind patrons most likely ask when they are looking to camp, rent a pavilion, or find programs and services available. This drove the basic navigation for the new website, created on Wix.

The development of inner pages of the website relied upon use of dynamic data. By building tables of data for lists of parks, features, and amenities, I was able to provide a front-page filter to help patrons navigate to whatever it is they are looking to "do". When they select an activity and click the button, they are immediately delivered to the park that provides the activity they seek.

Each inner page provides a deeper level of detail about each park and the most popular and sought-after activities.

Navigation was the most important need Myers relayed to me, so the entire website is made to be user-friendly, providing options to use a search bar that floats on every page, a simple "I want to" interactive lookup on the home page, and a bold, fixed top menu bar. The site is responsive, and mobile navigation is also easy.

This project will continue over the next year as electronic forms have been introduced in this first phase. More "bells and whistles" are envisioned for the future, based on patron and town staff feedback.

What a pleasure this project was! Kudos to Myers for his excellent use of Facebook to keep the public informed and to celebrate the many ways citizens enjoy the parks. The imagery was one part of this project made much easier for the ability to grab and use dozens of photos previously shared on social media.

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