Auckland Botanic Gardens - Website and Plant Database

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The Project

The Auckland Botanic Gardens, established in 1982 on 64 hectares in Manurewa, feature expansive grounds and a diverse collection of flora. The team, known for their extensive knowledge and passion for plants, is dedicated to connecting visitors with the natural beauty of gardens. They conduct thorough plant trials to determine which species thrive in Auckland’s mild climate without the need for pesticides.

Their brief called for the development of an engaging website equipped with an easy-to-use content management system (CMS). This would allow them to share extensive information including details about educational programs, cultural events, venue rental options, and research findings, as well as information on plants well-suited for Auckland’s climate. Additionally, the website needed to provide essential visitor information such as maps, opening hours, and accessibility details, ensuring a user-friendly experience for all visitors.

The primary challenge was designing a website that could handle the diverse needs of various visitors— from students and educators to event planners and casual visitors, while being relatively easy and quick to update. The site needed to be informative, visually appealing, and easy to navigate, encouraging deeper engagement with the Gardens' offerings.

The Solution

The website development for Auckland Botanic Gardens was strategically executed in two phases to ensure comprehensive coverage of all visitor needs.

Phase 1: Initial Website Creation
In the initial phase, Phosphor, Goodfolk, and the Auckland Botanic Gardens team collaborated closely to construct a foundational website tailored to the needs of prospective visitors and the general public. This phase focused on integrating essential functionalities such as interactive maps, detailed event information, venue booking capabilities, and an accessible overview of the Gardens' plant research. The goal was to create an intuitive and informative platform that would serve as a preliminary point of contact between the Gardens and its visitors.

Phase 2: Development of the Plant Database
The second phase involved a more detailed collaboration between Phosphor and the Auckland Botanic Gardens team to develop a comprehensive plant database. Key to this phase was understanding the diverse informational needs of different visitor groups. Through a series of workshops involving the Gardens team and volunteers, clear user pathways were defined, guiding the structure of the information provided. Wireframes were then created and tested with users to ensure these navigational paths met the needs of real users effectively. Finally, plant data was imported from the Gardens' existing software systems into the new website, where it was enhanced with cultural details and images in the CMS, offering visitors a rich, educational experience.

The Result

These collaborative efforts resulted in a robust and user-friendly website that not only makes it easy for visitors to explore what the Gardens have to offer but also provides a dynamic resource for botanical education and event planning.

The plant database has flourished into a rich repository of valuable content, and through structural optimizations, it has become highly effective for SEO. As a result, it has emerged as one of the primary resources for plant information in Auckland, attracting a broad audience of enthusiasts, professionals, and casual gardeners seeking reliable and detailed botanical data. This success has not only increased the visibility of the Auckland Botanic Gardens online but also solidified its reputation as a key educational and informational hub in the region.

"(Phosphor) were great to work with ... we learned a lot when you walked us through personas and how people use websites at the start of the project. We are seeing more people using the database for plant information... "

Micheline Newton , Visitor Services Manager, Auckland Botanic Gardens