A New Website for the Arboretum Foundation

The great poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Many eyes go through the meadow, but few see the flowers in it.” The Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle allows visitors to both go through the meadows and see the flowers in it by providing access to its stunning 230 acres of urban green-space on the shores of Lake Washington.

Stewardship for the Washington Park Arboretum is provided by The Arboretum Foundation, a non-profit membership organization that has raised funds, managed volunteer programs, and hosted events since 1935. While the Arboretum is a beautiful sight to see, the foundation’s website did not provide a welcoming glimpse into the amazing programs and volunteer actions that support the Arboretum and was not intuitive in nature. That’s where Rhizome came in…

Digging Through Deep Content

The Arboretum Foundation website prior to redesign.

In addition to providing stewardship, the Arboretum Foundation offers a wealth of information through articles and newsletters on their website, however, this treasure trove was difficult to navigate. We knew it was time to put our content gloves on, so we provided a new streamlined way for the Arboretum Foundation to post content that greatly reduced the number of categories, but still allowed useful tags to be added.

We found that their navigation was a bit disjointed, so we reworked it completely and focused on getting the user to information easily through a more robust search functionality. Although this is not the Seattle Arboretum or Washington Park Arboretum’s public website, we also made sure to include a Visit Us section that not only invited people to visit the grounds, but highlighted all the logistics of the Arboretum.

One of the biggest responsibilities of the Arboretum Foundation is raising funds for the Arboretum. There are multiple ways to support the Arboretum, but these were not apparent at a first glance. Therefore, we brought donations to the forefront of the website through an unmistakable bright pink “Donate” button in the header and donation widgets throughout the website. When arriving at the Donate page, the user is greeted by a simple easy-to-use web form that makes the act of donating a breeze.

Keeping Content Organized

As much as this project was focused on design, it also required exceptional organization to be successful. The key to managing such a big re-work of content was an efficient process that Rhizome implemented that worked well for both our team and the foundation’s staff.

Utilizing our proven EcoZome Tracker project management methodology, our team was able to create a single source of truth that persisted throughout the life of the project. Using an Airtable base, Rhizome provided our client with a one-stop shop to access Information Architecture, functionality and design Specs, an interactive content manifest, and more. Since a plethora of content was to be transferred to the new website, we designed page templates within Google Docs for the client to easily port their information over while our team was focused on web development. The synchronousness of this process reduced the length of this project, saving the Arboretum both time and money.

Ecozome Tracker Content

A Site in Full Bloom

No matter the season, the Arboretum is a refreshing natural oasis among urban sprawl. Whether you’re walking the Arboretum Loop Trail or visiting the Seattle Japanese Garden, you’re sure to be in awe of one of the most diverse and important plant collections in North America. Given this significance, we followed our core values and held this project very tight to ensure that we built a website that matched, in beauty, the stunning display that the Arboretum puts on each year. With an increase in donations over previous years, we can proudly say that the site is in full bloom!

“Their use of the software tools like Airtable, made the whole process run smoothly and helped us meet our deadlines. The Information Architecture made it easy to track where we were throughout the writing stage.”

Lee Benner

Former Development Director (Ret.), Arboretum Foundation

Many thanks to our team- Jen Pennington-UX Design, Patty O’Hara-web development, Kym Miller-art production and Robert Packer our Project Manager. Big kudos to our clients at the Arboretum Foundation for their incredible work and organization of their content.