Large Park System, Dated CMS

The Chicago Park District (CPD) owns more than 8,800 acres of green space, making it the largest municipal park manager in the nation. CPD’s more than 600 parks offer thousands of sports and physical activities as well as cultural and environmental programs for youth, adults and seniors. It is also responsible for 28 indoor pools, 50 outdoor pools and 26 miles of lakefront including 23 swimming beaches and one inland beach.

CPD had long needed a new content management system (CMS) platform for its primary website. The old site had already gone through several design iterations, and significant code changes were required to support the enhancements it desired. Rather than continue to build on an older, highly-customized CMS, CPD partnered with Clarity Partners to create their new site on Drupal 8.


Implement Drupal 8

CPD was looking for an open source solution to re-platform its website, and ultimately chose a Drupal solution because of its large community (and thus deep developer resources for future support), facility for integrations with other systems, regular security updates and demonstrated flexibility to easily add content and functionality.

Clarity and CPD began the project with an eye towards thoughtful and considered changes. The re-platform effort was undertaken with specific guidelines to serve their vision for the new site:

  • Continue adding and enriching website content to serve CPD patrons
  • More and deeper data control
  • Modularity and flexibility, so the data is future-proofed
  • Create the foundation for data usage across multiple platforms
  • Use the best tools available and make investments with long-term goals in mind

Clarity worked closely with the project team to redesign, develop and host the CPD website, providing the following improvements and features:

  • New CMS Platform
    • Drupal 8, the latest version of the popular open-source framework
    • Allows CPD to more easily integrate and connect to third-party tools, such as:
      • ActiveNet, which provides externally-hosted e-commerce functions
      • AppliTrack, which provides job postings
      • Bonfire, which provides procurement and contracting opportunities
      • MailChimp, which provides newsletter sign-up capabilities
  • Updated design based on user focus group reactions to the old site, including:
    • A cleaner, refreshed look built for devices of all sizes
    • Home page updates that allow CPD staff to push more information in a more organized fashion
    • Larger emphasis on maps, which are hugely important for the large metropolitan area
    • The ability to highlight features and attractions, such as artworks and natural areas
    • Overall increased speed and performance
  • Improved administrative functions that allow for:
    • Distributed content responsibilities
    • Workflow approvals to ensure editorial integrity
    • More modular administrative tools, allowing CPD to highlight location details such as accessibility features

User-Friendly and Award Winning

The new user-friendly and mobile-responsive official Chicago Park District website was designed and built with a unified look and feel, and a marketing emphasis to clearly feature and promote CPD’s many parks, programs and events. The new website is focused on the experience of users – “front end” visitors to the website and “back end” content administrators – both of whom have a wide scope of needs. Additionally, the new website was recognized with a 2017 Horizon Interactive Award.

With its new site, Chicago Park District is now poised to better serve the long-term needs of residents and visitors for years to come.

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