Holland National Parks

The case
Publishing / Media
Nationale Parken Bureau
Holland National Parks tells the unique story of nature in the Netherlands. It is an international marketing campaign, created to raise more awareness and attention for the national parks. During the first phase of this campaign an online platform has been launched with a focus on showing unique experiences, the proverbial hidden gems. Selected to build and facilitate this website is agency 10uur.
Project description
The Netherlands… there are very few places in the world in which the flora and fauna is so diverse within such short distances. Each national park or reserve has a unique character with its own plants, animals and landscapes. Most of these parks have the aspiration to achieve a high(er) quality standard and in order to accomplish that, they get assistance from the National Parks Department. This department inspires them, connects them, coordinates them and it has the specific ambition to create and maintain a broad (inter)national interest for these parks. To tell the unique story of nature in the Netherlands for this and future generations.

The first phase of Holland National Parks campaign.
With the 2021 theme year ‘Tribute to the Dutch Landscape’ in mind the international marketing campaign ‘Holland National Parks’ has been launched in March this year. It is by origin a collaboration between the National Parks Department and NBTC (Dutch office for tourism and congresses). Three national parks (that won 'The best nature reserve in the Netherlands’ contest in 2017) already joined forces in this project and aim to bring themselves under the attention of foreign tourists. Starting with the press, PR and promotion through social media in the first phase of this campaign, a website had to be built. We, 10uur, were selected to build and facilitate this website with the plan to go live in the beginning of 2019. And here it is: www.hollandnationalparks.com

What the target group wants.
This website forms the heart and soul of this campaign. It serves as a portal and an inspirational tour in which you can roam freely to find extraordinary local tips and the hidden gems within these national parks. Off the beaten track, that is exactly what the primary target group is looking for. In the initial briefing this target group has been defined as the ‘independent explorer’ with a focus on West-Europe. For their convenience the information on the website is available in six different languages.

The experiences are in the spotlights.
Not the national parks themselves, but the different experiences are put at the centre of it all. The selected experiences are all bundled into three different interests. Though the exact locations of the experiences are not hidden. An experience is clearly visible in a map and it forms a connection to the other experiences in that area. This because tourists are not always aware of the distances between different parks or areas.

A full service approach.
Within this project, the team at 10uur was formed with, and supported by, employees from various departments. Members of this team devised the online strategy, made the functional and graphic design, wrote the experiences and other content and have developed the website. Due to the relatively short period in which the project had to be shaped, many sub-assignments were running simultaneously. This led to some difficulties and challenges, though the intense working process also ensured great quality.

The future of this project.
It is expected that more national parks will participate in this international campaign this year or in the next years. The design takes this expansion into account.

The design.
Holland National Parks was a new brand without its own identity. So besides creating a design for the website it was also important to achieve a form that would define the brand and connects with the targeted audience. To emphasise the link with Holland for foreign tourists the color orange has been a key factor in the design. Organic shapes were also important elements to support the predefined distinguishing values of the target audience. These are: imaginative, curious, idealism, adventurous and equality. Also the grid is a visual representation of the numerous experiences that are available within the national parks. Experiences that are not easily placed into defined boxes. There is an emphasised presence of imagery to make the experiences speak for themselves.

The website’s layout has an obvious distribution of the multiple experiences based on theme or location. But nevertheless the website will try to attract the visitor to wander around on the website by continuous cross-references throughout these structures. ‘Go where your curiosity brings you’ is the motto here, as it is for the visitors of the parks themselves. But always with an obvious structure in the background to fall back to when you are simply looking for information.

Obviously, while designing and developing, there has been taken into account the usability on the vast variety of devices because we are sure that the target audience will use all kinds of devices but mostly mobile devices.

The technology.
We try to keep all of our projects as close as possible to the existing libraries, modules and tools. This ensures that the amount of custom code is reduced to a bare minimum and it makes maintainability manageable. A small selection of used technologies across the entire stack are: Drupal, Bootstrap, Jenkins CI, SASS, Git, Composer, Docker and many many more.

To provide the best quality, we have used our in-house developed automated deployment workflow directed by our Jenkins services. Because of this, our client and we ourselves have a high predictability with every update we roll out onto the website and it minimizes the possibility of downtime or degradation of services. Besides that we always make sure that the website stays up-to-date with our in-house developed automated update process. We automatically install every contributed and custom modules shortly after the Drupal Security Team releases their Public Service Announcements and publishes security updates. Thus every Wednesday on Thursday night we update and test our Drupal 8 websites automatically.
When considering high availability, in this project, hosting is an important pillar on which the website rests. Hosting from our well known and trusted hosting partner Combell (https://www.combell.nl/) was therefore the best choice. Their hosting with SSD storage, clustered resources and high level of security measures ensures us of performance, high availability and security.
Performance is key for this website. The experience should be snappy and unobtrusive. Due to the large amount of images and videos this ambition became particularly challenging. We have applied lazy loading, responsive images and also responsive videos to make sure this massive media library does not cause an obstruction.

Besides performance, the look and feel of this website is also imperative. That’s why we implemented some advanced frontend ‘tricks’ to make the experience a bit more appealing without creating chaos. For example: the grid in which the park experiences are loaded is something we constructed ourselves. This way, it doesn’t seem like a casual repetitive summary of blocks and it will scale perfectly on all screen sizes. Another example is the Google Maps implementation on the homepage, which shows all parks and their boundaries.

As stated before, members of our project team have written the whole content for the website. Some challenges we faced concerning this part of the project: how do you write about these experiences without actually experiencing them yourself? How do you produce this content in such a short amount of time and with more than one writer?
Based on the input the client provided, the tone of voice description we defined at the start, conversations with the national parks and by reading the already existing public information about the areas, we have been able to write the website’s content as best as possible.

Above all we challenged ourselves to create a great and functional experience for administrators, provide the best possible availability (hosting, CI, etc), create a design that is customized and fits the needs of the target audience and other optimizations.
Community contributions
When we encounter bugs in contributed modules our policy is to create issues in the issue tracker for that particular module. We try to report them back as complete as we possibly can. When patches are committed (mostly by module contributors) we try them out, test them and report back to the contributor. In, admittedly rare occasions, we also contribute our own patches.

Almost every website we develop for clients are based on Drupal. Our collection is big, ranging from older sites from the Drupal 6 era to the current Drupal 8 release. We believe that by adding more Drupal 8 websites to the internet we promote the community and contribute to a better future for Drupal.