We’re honored, humbled and proud to share that Tennessee State Parks 75th Anniversary microsite has been recognized with a Silver National ADDY® award, ranking it among the best interactive work in the nation. The ADDY Awards represent the true spirit of creative excellence by recognizing all forms of advertising from media of all types, creative by all sizes and entrants of all levels from anywhere in the world. Matt Montgomery, lead designer on the award-winning project, answers a few questions about the site, design thinking and the national recognition.
Can you share some of the background on the project, the challenges and what the client was looking for?
MM: Tennessee State Parks approached us to design a microsite to celebrate its 75th anniversary. The main goal of the site was to get people to celebrate the 75th anniversary by visiting parks across the state. To help meet this goal, I decided to balance the site’s design between inspiring people to visit the parks and giving them useful tools to find what park fits their interests.
How do you feel the site stood out above others to be recognized with a national ADDY®?
I’m just honored that my project was chosen among so many great websites. I think all of the nominated microsites have a merit of their own, but I’m particularly proud of the depth and breadth of content State Parks has to offer. The site features video, a social media campaign, gaming, interactive mapping and in-depth information about each park.
What inspired you in developing some of the key features and design elements of the site?
Whenever I begin a new web project, I consider who my users are and the best way to reach them. I feel a successful website should have a strong mix of storytelling and functionality targeted around the needs and desires of its users. If you can properly strike this balance, then you’re really on to something. The team worked toward this balance with State Parks by developing varied content to reach different users. There’s an intro video that shows off the beauty and variety of Tennessee’s Parks with the hope to inspire casual nature lovers to visit the parks. The team developed the Junior Ranger Game to teach kids more about sustainability and Tennessee’s flora and fauna with the hope to inspire the next generation of nature lovers. We also developed a highly filterable interactive map that allows users to filter parks by activity, cultural and natural features. Lastly, we added a social media component for users to share their favorite park memories on Facebook with the chance to win prizes.
Going through site development, what were some of the collaborations between design, tech and content teams that helped get the site to where it is?
We begin projects by having a brainstorming meeting with the tech, content and strategist on the project. Here, we lay out the user’s core needs, and bring our individual strengths to the table to best meet these needs. This is a key aspect of a successful project to me. I might have a good idea but having those other people in the room to both challenge me and add their own unique perspectives into the mix is a great recipe for success.
This was Designsensory’s and your first national ADDY. What were your thoughts when you found out the site was in the running?
I was very excited to say the least. I’ve been working as a professional for over four years now, with two of those at Designsensory, and this was my first national award. The fact that it is Designsensory’s first national ADDY as well makes it all the sweeter. I love the energy and level of collaboration the team was able to bring to this project. I didn’t design State Parks, or any project for that matter, with the intention of winning awards. I poured my passion into it because Tennessee is a beautiful place and, as a nature lover, I want everyone to know just how great it is. Winning awards is icing on the cake.
Knowing that this site is award-winning, what are some things you’d like to bring from it into other projects, either from the design of the site itself or from the design thinking process?
I think the biggest takeaway is collaboration. I didn’t win this award by myself. The team won this together. I’m a strong believer that the sum is always greater than the parts and when you bring several great people together to work on a project you’re always going to end up with something much better than you could have done on your own. I also think this project was successful due to strong branding and content. State Parks allowed an update to its identity while staying true to its core form; we were free to explore headline typography and imagery. This allowed work without constraints, bringing the highest quality aesthetic to the project. As to strong content, the photography really makes the design sing and robust information about the parks gives users a reason to frequent the site often.
What’s your favorite Tennessee State Park and why?
Tough pick! I’ll have to go with Roan Mountain. I grew up about an hour away, in Kingsport, and my family would go every year to see the Roan Mountain rhododendrons bloom. The Appalachian Trail cuts over the mountain, as well. Hiking over the balds of Roan Mountain is one the most beautifully serene experiences I’ve ever had.