An improved state parks system website at www.ncparks.gov was introduced this month after a major redesign. Aside from refining many of the site’s most popular features, the upgrade results in a site friendlier to smartphones and tablets.
The website was one of state government’s first and remains among its most sprawling sites, with each of 41 state parks, state recreation areas and state natural areas having a substantial presence, alongside details of the other myriad programs of the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation. This marks the third major revision of the site since it was launched in 1996, and the complexity of the upgrade necessitated a two-year project that involved dozens of division employees and state park friends under the guidance of website manager Marla Laubisch.
The ways that people use the Internet constantly evolve. One of the most significant changes in recent years is that more people now use mobile devices to reach favored websites rather than desktop or laptop computers. And, social media plays a larger role than ever. The site is designed to allow the system’s 15 million annual visitors to find information to make decisions about visits quickly and efficiently.
Visitors to the site can now search for parks by favorite activities or features and further search those by cultural or historical relevance. A new “Things To Do” menu helps with this. Here are more new or enhanced features:
- An “Events” calendar searches by park or by date; and upcoming events are highlighted on a park’s main page.
- Users will find close integration with Facebook, Twitter, blog and other social media links, as well as support for the system’s reservations system and its mobile app.
- A new “Park News” feature informs neighbors and close friends of individual parks of special events and happenings. Each park can post real-time alerts about closings and park emergencies.
- Hiking remains the favorite activity for most visitors, and each park’s section includes trail descriptions, points of interest, photos and other information about its trail networks.
Because the website now is such a vital part of serving visitors and state park friends, it will always be a work in progress. So, feedback and suggestions on improvements are always welcome.