The latest project from Flying Horse Communications and Engage focused around a travel and activity site for Yellowstone Country, Montana, using DNN to centralize and present data being pulled from other back-end systems. Engage and Flying Horse have worked together quite extensively, and both parties new the outcome of the site would be great.
Yellowstone Country, Montana, is a non-profit organization dedicated to marketing five central Montana counties (Gallatin, Park, Sweet Grass, Stillwater and Carbon), as well as Yellowstone National Park, to resident and non-resident visitors, while encouraging respect for our outstanding natural environment and quality of life. Yellowstone Country is a year-round vacation destination bordering Yellowstone National Park. This virtual visitor site is intended to help plan your stay in south-central and southwest Montana by presenting recreational resources, seasonal activities and cultural treasures that make Yellowstone Country a very special place to experience.
The main focus of the project was to build a system that ties all the content together, offering users the best possible experience when browsing the site for everything Yellowstone Country. Engages challenge was finding a way to leverage DNN taxonomy and present related content throughout the site, despite data being fed from a separate database system.
"Taxonomy is a way to classify information. It is often used in combination with folksonomy. In DotNetNuke, this is done through the use of categories applied by content authors. To integrate taxonomy in your own modules, as a developer, you need to first implement Content Items. Once Content Item integration is complete, developers can use the core Terms selector control in their modules for category management. “
Since the main point of the site was to give users access to the activities and attractions they're searching for, be it by region, season, or activity type, taxonomy proved to be a perfect approach to handle this data. Engage created custom modules that are able to leverage DNN’s taxonomy giving admins the ability to manage data, defines their relationships to each other, and display the content to end users in a meaningful way. Content can be displayed based on the season, by region, cities within a region, specific activities, local amenities, and simply by type. This gives users their choice to narrow down their search based on their unique goals.
Engage built out the main menu structure for the site revolving around the taxonomy pattern defined, again to allow users to access content based on how they choose to search. Custom modules then would display the content, and related content once a user drills down deeper in there search. Engage also added relevancy enhancement to the taxonomy modules, displaying the points of interest based on the context of the user’s interest and search. Admins were given a clean back-end management, allowing the, to adjust the weight of the relative terms as needed.
Outside of taxonomy based tasks, Engage was also tasked with creating some additional features making the site even better for users. Two major features of the site was map and location based searching and interaction and the ability to save and track activities to revisit later.
Engage built an advanced Google Map integration giving end users access to find points of interest across the different regions focusing on making sure the experience was intuitive and easy for the user no matter if they were using a laptop, tablet, or phone. The Google maps gives the user a board scope of all the activities locations in relationship to other places in the park. Then users are able to dive in deeper to discover more activities near them, or in the region they plan to visit next. Using Google api and address information, we were able to add additional mapping capabilities such as driving directions and pin location for points of interest.
Engage worked with Flying Horse to create My Wish List, a tool that allows users to keep track of and save activities and places that interest them. Creating a Wish List is easy: users simply need to register for the site and start adding items that appeal to them. Each page features an "add to My Wish List" button, which allows users to quickly built out their list. Users can then edit their list and even share it with friends and family using social media channels and email. This feature encourages users to explore and plan their Yellowstone Country itinerary, and promotes a high return visitor rate.
User Focused Design
Flying Horse provided beautiful, modern designs that Engage was able to turn into skins and containers for a consistent, clean implementation. The site had to be visually appealing to even begin to showcase the natural beauty to the attractions of Yellowstone Country. The design was built upon stylized landing pages, featuring large rich full size images that scale to fill the users screen, rustic and natural looking graphics and UI elements, as well as interesting typography. Flying Horse provided a style guide and UI elements, which Engage worked with them to define and implement throughout the site in skins, containers, and module styles.
DNN Site of the Year
Engage went on to win DotNetNuke site of the year for the category Best Non-Profit site in 2012. Engage was presented the award during DNN World 2012, and it was quite a treat for the development team in attendance to receive the recognition for all the hard work and love put into the project.