Alaska Public Lands Information Centers

Case Study
U.S. Department of the Interior Logo

The Drupal Project

The Alaska Public Land Information Centers (Alaska Centers) support the use and enjoyment of Alaska’s public lands, both state and federal.  Each of the four Alaska Center locations provide public land information, trip-planning assistance, education on Alaskan history and culture, and support to protect Alaska’s natural resources. These centers are nationally recognized for providing consistent, high quality services and they wanted to provide a similarly high-quality experience for online visitors, regardless of where they might plan to visit in Alaska.

The Alaska Public Lands Information Centers (APLIC) contracted with Fig Leaf to:  

  • Redesign the agency’s public-facing website
  • Implement a the new responsive design using the Drupal Content Management System
  • Migrate website content from the existing Adobe ColdFusion based CommonSpot Content Management System to Drupal  
  • Ensure compliance with Section 508 guidelines for Americans with Disabilities

The Solution

During discovery, it became apparent that the vision for the redesigned website required a significant shift in content strategy.  Fig Leaf worked to design a new approach to content that helped Alaska Centers pivot from providing web content as individual Centers (which is appropriate for physical visitors to an Alaska Center location), to providing state-wide resources and information to support visitors exploring Alaska from anywhere – whether they’re learning about Alaska, planning a trip, or looking for maps and travel support mid-trip.

To accomplish this, Fig Leaf recommended restructuring navigation and rewriting website content with a state-wide focus, while providing access to location-specific resources for visitors who need it.  The new website includes tools such as discovering public lands by destinationexploring things to do in Alaska (with recommendations on where to do them), finding inspirational itineraries based on your trip length and your interests, planning travel specifics, and visiting local Alaska Centers.  Content was rewritten to be accessible, easy-to-understand, and focused on introducing both visitors and Alaskans to the amazing opportunities for growth and exploration on public lands throughout the state.

In addition, we found that information on public lands was sometimes stale, stored in several places on the website and in PDFs. To address this, Fig Leaf recommended creating a standardized, centralized list of public lands that each page and content type could reference, and which would allow visitors to find public lands based on their destination and interests.  In the redesigned website, visitors can view and filter a list of Alaska’s public lands to find the right place to visit, and learn more about each destination.  In addition, this list is leveraged as a taxonomy to sort, manage, and reference other content on the website.

The flexible design in Drupal allows content authors to create pages with several rich layouts, based on the information they want to present.  On pages exploring different things to do across Alaska, content editors can add lists of recommended places for that activity.  And, to make sure visitors have all the information they need for their trip, each page showcases related events, facts, questions, and safety tips.  

Editors can create quick day-trip-type “things to do”, for people who want to plan a quick trip, such as a hike near Anchorage.  What’s more, editors have the power collect these “things to do” into custom-designed itineraries of different lengths.  These itineraries can be hand-curated, or they can be based on a theme, leveraging taxonomies for place, topic, or activity.

Visitors to the website can easily find out where to go to experience a new activity, or to safely indulge in an adventure that builds on years of experience.  The home page is designed to tell the story of Alaska’s beauty, and all the amazing experiences awaiting in Alaska’s public lands.  A flexible slider shows seasonally selected features, with stunning imagery to invite visitors to explore each. An interactive map of Alaska’s regions allows visitors to see what Alaska has to offer by region.  Smaller selected features lead people to answer their most common questions on planning a trip in Alaska.  Finally, the home page helps people find resources at each Alaska Center location.

The Results

Fig Leaf’s content strategy, development, and design teams collaborated carefully to create this new, powerful site for the Alaska Centers.  With the backdrop of a minimalist design that sets the focus on Alaska’s natural beauty, the Drupal implementation includes a powerful use of taxonomy to deliver relevant content and features to website visitors, and a careful curation of content types that deliver flexibility to editors and features to visitors.  

The new responsive website is “Your guide to experiencing Alaska’s Public Lands”.  The site is fully accessible and places the focus on the public lands of Alaska and not on the individual public lands centers.  Users have quick access to a global search and the ability to easily print page content, share via social media, and can choose to experience and explore by region, via the interactive map, or by connecting with an Interagency Visitor Center.

The new site promotes “Destinations”, “Things to do”, Trip ideas”, and directly links visitors to partners and Alaska Centers for a variety of ways to experience Alaska.