Winter Fun

Web Design / GRAPHIC DESIGN / marketing

Project Overview

Launched: October 2014
Industry: Government
The Winter Fun website showcased Allegheny County’s numerous winter and holiday activities.
At the time, the new county website was in the redesign phase. The old website included the necessary information, but its outdated design - and lack of a responsive layout - meant it wasn’t much of a modern marketing tool. Thus, a temporary solution was needed in order to support certain marketing efforts.
The old county website wasn’t mobile or marketing-friendly. Not only did it have an aged feel, but the small content area limited layout possibilities. Plus, the winter activities and holiday events were housed in different areas of the site.
Evolution of an Idea
The concept for Winter Fun actually evolved from two small projects launched the year before in 2013.
At the time, I was working in my previous position as Web Designer for the Department of Human Services. At the request of the Division of Computer Services (DCS) - where I currently reside - I created two, one-page responsive websites to showcase the winter and holiday activities. They were actually the first responsive websites released by Allegheny County.
The first site was called Holiday Happenings and, as the name suggests, highlighted key holiday events around the region. The second site, Winter Fun, showcased the winter activities available at the county’s nine parks such as ice skating, skiing, and snow tubing.
The following year, when I became the Web Manager & Creative Director for DCS, I approached the Chief Marketing Officer with the idea of combining the two sites. I suggested that we also include the pertinent details such as ticket prices, hours, directions, and the like. That way, visitors had everything in one place.
He loved the idea so we got to work!

The original Winter Fun (mobile) and Holiday Happenings (desktop). The design was fairly simple. Each event or activity was represented by an image. By clicking the “Details” link (or the image itself), visitors were taken to the appropriate website for more information. (Side Note: Notice the county's seal? That used to be our "logo." Big difference between it and the new logo, huh?)
Bringing It to Life
Working in tandem, the Chief Marketing Officer and I outlined the criteria for the site:

Two Ways to Find Activities - We recognized that there were two ways site visitors would search for activities. Some visitors would be interested in the activities at a specific park. Others, however, would want to see every park that offers a particular activity. To accommodate this, we included the options of “By Park” and “By Activity” in the main navigation and organized the site accordingly.
Navigating by activity. The “Ice Skating” page, found under “By Activity” in the main navigation, displays all the parks that have rinks. (You can click on the park's name to visit that park's page.) There is also pertinent information such as hours, season passes, and gift certificates.
Navigating by park. Selecting a specific park - whether via the main navigation or an activity page - brings the user to a page like the one above. All of the available activities at that park are listed - along with directions, hours, pass information, and a link to upcoming events. Thus, no matter how a user navigates the site, they’re easily connected with the details they need.
Integrating Social Media - Since the site was being used for marketing purposes, we integrated the county Twitter and Instagram feeds into the footer. We also advertised the hashtag #ACWinterFun to encourage followers to post their own photos and experiences.

Homepage Organization - Because visitors would be landing here from radio, print, and online ads, we wanted the homepage to efficiently show what the site was about. Thus, the prominent slider representing all of the activities and then a section highlighting the holiday events. Finally, we included the Find Your Spot section to highlight the three largest parks.  
Results
Winter Fun became the main URL used in the county's winter marketing efforts. Also, when the ability to purchase park passes online was launched in winter 2015, Winter Fun served as an established gateway to advertise that functionality. This was an important component, as park passes are a large source of revenue for the parks. 
Despite its success, however, the site's days were numbered. The redesign of the main county website was completed in November 2015, making Winter Fun unnecessary. But it was a fun project and excited the county adminsitration as we tackled the redesign of the main website. 
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