The North Carolina Arboretum spans 434 acres, including public gardens, hiking and biking trails, and exhibits, just outside of Asheville and amid the Southern Appalachian Mountains. The arboretum needed a website to showcase their acres of cultivated gardens, groomed trails and some of the most beautiful, botanically-diverse plants in the region. The Arboretum also plans many seasonal events and needed a robust calendar and events system—one that could pull in data from their BlackBaud Altru events planning and ticketing system.
url: www.ncarboretum.org | completed: January 13, 2016
Events Calendar Integration
Our client preferred a grid-based calendar, understanding that many visitors, members, and volunteers felt most comfortable with this traditional view. But we also developed toggle between the grid and an alternate list view. Behind the scenes, administrators can add recurring events and feature special events. Events can be filtered by category and date. The calendar is a snapshot of a very busy place. Not only does the calendar look great on desktop and mobile devices, it is also fast. Events are loaded in via an AJAX request to the server rather than refreshing pages so users are never directed away. This creates a seamless, more enjoyable browsing experience.
Simplifying Existing Sitemap
The client’s previous site contained many pages some nested multiple levels deep. We worked with the Arboretum team to simplify the site structure in order to make it easier for visitors to find content. Through information architecture, and an upgraded navigation system we were able to give the Arboretum a simplified page structure and streamlined menu. Now, visitors are able to find the content they need quickly and efficiently.
To help the arboretum team develop both visually compelling and content-rich pages we utilized our components-based architecture. Components can be used freely and easily dragged-and-dropped to curate rich and inviting pages. Components are also used to cross-pollinate the site by directing visitors to related content or encouraging personal interaction such as attending an event. We have put powerful tools with tremendous flexibility at their fingertips.
Increasing engagement for the arboretum meant far more than increasing visitors. A second key group of stakeholders includes donors, the University system, and state legislatures. These individuals and groups are especially interested in how the arboretum serves the interests of the state. Through the design process, we targeted many ways that we could highlight civic and business partnerships, volunteerism, and revenue-generating activities.
- The home page includes a “by the numbers” hub, which features an editable infographic, bringing engagement data front-and-center.
- Events or subjects that are of special interest to this audience can be highlighted through in-depth stories in the blog. These posts can be promoted on the home page as feature stories.
Enhanced Performance Methods
Typically when a site is very image heavy, performance suffers. In order to address this, the site was built to display images only after they have been fully loaded. Visitors are presented with content first, then the image fades in after a few seconds for a seamless loading effect.
We also make full use of responsive imagery in order to display appropriately sized images for the actual screen size of your device.
Integrated page caching technology further improves performance to deliver pages with lightning speed.
The North Carolina Arboretum website calendar system integrates with their Altru ticketing, registration, and donation platform. We worked with Blackbaud engineers to implement a custom WordPress plugin in order to pull Altru Calendar feeds into the WordPress calendar system. While detailed information still requires linking out to custom-styled Altru pages, this integration minimizes the need for users to link offsite.
Swipe to view the original “before” site.
“Cuberis is top notch when it comes to web design and development! Being a multi-faceted institution that offers a wide variety of programs and activities, Cuberis did a wonderful job of guiding us to identify key elements of our organization and creating a user-friendly site that quickly informs visitors about The North Carolina Arboretum and our many offerings. From concept to launch, the entire process was very well-thought out. The design team was great in pulling out the beauty of the Arboretum and showcasing it through our new site. Our robust calendar will be a great tool to let visitors know about all the many happenings at the Arboretum and their suggestion of using rich imagery will certainly have folks wanting to come out and see the property for themselves! We couldn’t have asked for a better process and end product.”
Whitney Smith, Marketing & Public Relations Manager
The North Carolina Arboretum