The Challenge

The United Kingdom has fifteen National Parks, stretching from Dartmoor in Southwest England to Cairngorms in Northern Scotland. The National Parks are protected areas because of their unique countryside, wildlife and cultural heritage. Park land is largely privately owned but each park is managed by its own National Park Authority. The Association of National Park Authorities (ANPA) works with each of these authorities across the UK to help promote the coordination and sharing of resources, knowledge and services between the Parks. In addition, it works to raise the profile of the Parks in the public eye.

The National Parks are funded by central government, and like all government-funded bodies in the current climate of austerity, the Parks are feeling ongoing pressure to reduce costs and increase efficiencies. One of the simplest ways to do this was to promote greater sharing of knowledge, services and resources between the various authorities. ANPA recognised that a streamlined CMS platform could be utilised, but also individually tailored for all of the parks would solve this issue.

With more than fifteen parks to service, the new platform needed to be developed based on common requirements while also being able to accommodate individual differences between each park.

When the project began, each park's site was individually managed, meaning that some required only a little work and others required a complete overhaul. A number of these sites also required the ability to integrate with external systems and databases.

The wide range of users that would eventually update and maintain these websites called for a platform that could facilitate varying degrees of technical skills and know-how.

To aid this process the majority of users were grouped into three main categories: content editors, web editors and system developers.

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The Solution

The unanimous choice

A representative from each of the Parks was involved in the decision making process of choosing a vendor for this project and Squiz Matrix was unanimously selected. A major factor in the Parks team's decision was Matrix's ability to empower their staff and web editors to achieve 99% of their tasks with its out-of-the-box features. Needing greater technical jurisdiction, developers could also take complete control of the code when they needed to.

Sharing is caring

Because of the need to centralise and share resources, Squiz worked to streamline certain elements of the website. An example of this can be seen in the formatting of event information, which was standardised so that the development work was only done once before being re-purposed throughout the different sites.

Migration made easy

A significant chunk of the project involved the migration of existing content. Many of the sites originally ran on LiveLink (now OpenText) and shared a similar structure and feature set. Squiz developed several migration scripts that exported the existing LiveLink content as XML data. A custom-written component developed by Squiz then imported this XML into the newly created sites and mapped the content appropriately. These scripts were shared amongst multiple sites, spreading the cost and reducing duplication of work.

Tailored training

One of the major objectives for ANPA was the development of a site that would enable their internal teams to take ownership of their online presence. Squiz developed a customised training course based on the three key user groups to ensure that each group received the most relevant and appropriate training. The staff are now armed with the skills and experience they truly need.

The Result

Fourteen of the park sites have now been migrated to Squiz Matrix including well-known parks such as Snowdonia, The Peak District and The South Downs. The migration of the final Park site is currently in progress.

Thanks to the core flexibility of Matrix and Squiz's comprehensive training, the ANPA and Park staffs can now train internal users and share best practice amongst themselves, which allows for a wider number of people to contribute to content creation.

Squiz has also made a core feature set available to ANPA so that they can continue to further improve the functionality of their sites. So now their future goal of moving transactions and commerce online is fully supported and already in place for when the time comes.

Squiz and ANPA now enjoy a long-term partnership that has been solidified through continuing support and collaboration.

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