Responses by William Colgrove, founder/chief creative officer, Elizabeth Barth, creative director, Mat Brady, developer and Jack Nank, producer, Threespot
Background: The official NPS.gov website is one of the primary channels to learn about America’s national parks. To celebrate the National Park Service’s (NPS) centennial anniversary, Threespot worked with NPS to redesign the entire digital experience from a user-centered perspective.
Highlights: The site’s design system was based off Italian designer Massimo Vignelli’s work for NPS in the 1970s. Referencing Vignelli’s unigrid system, Threespot established a responsive grid system and website components, turning the site into a pattern library. In addition, Threespot conceived, designed and built new content formats for parks to publish itineraries, activity guides, and trip ideas to help trip planners.
Challenges: The fact that each park unit—there are more than 400—is responsible for its own web content. Also, users needed very different content from each park. We wanted to standardize, but also enable a certain amount of flexibility. We knew that we wouldn’t get to consult every park unit about adapting its content to the new design system, but we wanted to ensure that the user experience wouldn’t be compromised.
Favorite details: We met the highest level of WCAG 2.0 accessibility levels: AA/AAA. We also designed and planned for critical park details to be coded and presented in structured data types so that content could be presented seamlessly within Google Search results. This helped on-the-go users get critical details they needed via search rather than forcing them to come to NPS.gov.
Navigational structures: When we learned that most site visitors were accessing the website through search and arriving at a second or third-level pages, we knew we needed to provide a strong design solution to the complex secondary navigational structure. We also designed a simplified top-level navigation that helped introduce new or unfamiliar site visitors to NPS in a friendlier way.
Anything new: When we first started this project, we prototyped the user experience and design process using Webflow. Webflow would help us tackle design challenges and assist the client in understanding the final design. We also used Trello to track components as they got added to the design system. Therefore, we tracked important notes and design decisions even as the design system was evolving and growing.