In 2017, Parks Victoria was undergoing a digital transformation with the objective of improving the organisation’s asset database, customer and stakeholder database and its website. I was recruited as content lead on the website redevelopment project. According to public service tradition, it was given a catchy acronym, DCE, which stood for Digital Customer Engagement.
Parks Victoria’s website was out-dated, inaccurate and lacking functionality expected of a modern customer-facing website. The several aims of the DCE project could be boiled down to: improve the experience of parks visitors.
A complete revamp of parks content was seen as crucial to the new website. This was a big task; Parks Victoria runs something like 5000 parks. The overheads for creating this scale of content would be huge; the cost of maintaining it prohibitive.
After a prioritisation exercise, we agreed with the organisation that the first tranche of content would consist of pages covering:
- 30 parks
- 330 visitor sites.
Scope creep followed as night follows day. The actual task ended up being:
- 33 parks
- 20 sub-parks (we decided some parks were so big they needed to be broken down)
- 700 visitor sites
- 200 ‘Places’ (combinations of visitor sites that made up what the visitor might understand as an ‘experience’)
There was no getting away from needing to write all that content, but we made the task more manageable by recruiting the services of subject matter experts in each of the four Parks Victoria regions. These people would pre-fill content templates with raw facts, allowing me and my content producer to concentrate on writing good content. To marshal all that content, we used the web application Gather Content.
The other part of our solution was to develop data-driven pages, in which critical information would update effectively in real time as new information was added by Parks staff in the field. This would reduce the resources required to set up and maintain the pages. Crucially, the most important information on safety and closures would be under the control of staff close to the parks in the regions.
Check out the website yourself. Below I’ve highlighted some pages that are good examples of what we were trying to do.
Doongalla Homestead – positioned as an alternative to the nearby overtouristed 1000 Steps.
Dandenong Ranges National Park landing page – the parent for Doongalla Homestead
Big Drift Walk – promoted in order to attract people away from the crowded walks in the southern part of Wilsons Prom
Sheoak Picnic Area – promoted to attract people away from popular Erskine Falls