Washington launches revamped state parks website


Washington’s state parks have a new website.

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission launched its revamped website this week, the result of a two-and-a-half-year effort to make the state agency’s website easier to use.

It features a fresh homepage, rewritten content and new ways for people to find things to do at any of Washington’s more than 100 state parks. It retained a familiar URL, however: parks.wa.gov/.

Stephanie McDermott, the brand marketing and creative manager for Washington State Parks, said officials had heard from the public that it was hard for them to find information about parks through the site and the agency wanted to make it easier to use.

She said people who work for state parks knew how to use the website, but the general public didn’t.

“One of the biggest barriers to people and recreating outdoors is information, and access to information,” McDermott said.

“The goal of this website is really to make sure that anybody from the first-time visitor to the expert-level adventurer can find and understand information” they need to get outside and enjoy their state parks.

Over nearly two years, the state agency’s Web team tested the new version of the site in a variety of ways, with an eye toward accessibility for people with disabilities.

It used focus groups, and  it went back through all the pieces of information on the site and cleaned it up.

“It was a complete overhaul,” McDermott said.

McDermott said the website redesign cost about $550,000, with the majority of the money spent on user-centered research and design.

The change is the second big step in a larger effort to reconfigure how the agency interacts with the public. The first was the launch of its new logo, which came earlier this year. That effort cost about $52,500.