We worked on the redesign of Morton Arboretum’s website by looking at it from three directions. First: The site architecture. We considered the big picture: the site map and menu structure. Second: The content architecture. We looked at how many different content types they planned to use: blog posts, articles, maps, video, landing page, events, and so on. In Drupal, we call these the node types. Third: The page architecture. We got into the actual layout of the page. How many columns? Do you have side bars? Header images? Footer? The Arboretum project was exciting because they were open to reconceiving all three.
Luke Anderson, BT Director of Content Platforms
A Tangled Web of Pages into a Garden of Delights
BT brings logic and beauty to the Arboretum’s websiteThe Morton Arboretum’s 1,700-acre living museum of trees is one of the largest in the world. Given the number of contributors to its website and the variety of information and structures it wanted to host, its old Joomla-based website was inadequate to its needs.
The Arboretum discovered Breakthrough Technologies through the firm’s work with the nearby Village of Oak Park. They wanted to completely rethink their website design and content architecture. They liked the capabilities they saw in Drupal and appreciated BT’s expertise in the open-source platform.
Clear Navigation for a Wide-Ranging WebsiteWith a website nearly as vast as the Arboretum itself, the Arboretum wanted a better, more transparent navigation system. Together with BT, they broke the site into five main channels that would be displayed as the five menu choices at the top of every page: Visit & Explore, Learn & Experience, Trees & Plants, Science & Conservation, and Join & Support. Hovering over each of these menu items causes a mega menu box to drop down, offering as many as eight sub-categories with up to ten sub-topic links under each. The five mega-menus give a quick and easy view of the hundreds of links on the site.
Visually, BT designed an attractive and inviting site, with a background header image showing a view of the Arboretum, and a slide show beneath inviting users to click into popular areas of the site. The mega-menus provide the ability to see lots of options at once.
Drupal 7 offered many advantages to creating the site the Arboretum desired. BT used the suite of Workbench modules to provide an array of flexible editorial workflow options, including a hierarchy of permission levels for contributors and approvers as well as a variety of content types that could be input into the site. Content could be used, revised, and reused in a variety of locations. This allows their admins to control work flow for different content types.
Workflow Rules Allow Contributions from Various Levels of Users and AdminsFor instance, one user might be able to create a blog post and publish it immediately, while another would have route it to someone in an editor or approver role. The workflow rules for calendar events might have an entirely different set of rules. With Workbench, BT had flexible options for setting workflow rules, review of drafts, and reverting of previous revisions. It provides a great User Interface for inputting content, which was a big win for the Arboretum staff and volunteers.
The interface handles many types of content for the Arboretum, including video, sidebar content, and eye-catching images for internal ads. BT made it much more flexible in how they could control what would appear on pages, reuse the same content on multiple pages, and still perform revisions and designate layout attributes.
After the site was in operation for about year, the Arboretum asked BT to add a Northern Illinois Tree Selector. The selector uses a complex form to allow a user to select the type of tree that will best succeed in the type of soil and environmental conditions where it will be planted. It is designed for use by homeowners, landscape architects, or public park supervisors. And it is designed to run on a tablet, so the user can utilize it on the run and show the results while shopping at a tree nursery. It’s a feature that is indicative of the inviting design, ease of use, and practicality of the entire site.