Learning Tool to Engage Park Visitors in Ecological Responsibility

Our team embarked on a journey to transform visitor experiences through thoughtful design and interactive solutions.

Gates of the Arctic National Park
UX / UI Design, Content Strategy,
Product Manager & Research Lead

In the sprawling wilderness of the Arctic National Park, visitors are often challenged by a lack of accessible information on park rules and ecological responsibilities. The "Know Before You Go" project was conceived to tackle this issue by creating a mobile-responsive guide that would inform and engage park visitors effectively.

The "Know Before You Go" project aimed to enhance visitor experiences at Gates of the Arctic National Park by improving access to information on park rules and ecological responsibilities. The team developed a mobile-responsive wilderness guide that streamlined the information delivery through an interactive, gamified interface. Comprehensive surveys and interviews identified key user needs and behaviors, which informed the development of a persona and journey map. The project resulted in a user-friendly design that integrated information architecture, navigation, and interaction elements effectively. Usability testing confirmed the guide's success in engaging users and promoting ecological awareness. The final product not only improved visitor preparedness but also supported the park's conservation goals by encouraging responsible behavior, demonstrating a successful integration of business and user-needs when designing for environmental education.


Our approach was grounded in comprehensive research involving 55 surveys and 11 detailed interviews. Our survey objective was to learn what motivates people to visit attractions or national parks. To gain a a deeper perspective of park visitors' awareness, attitudes, and behaviors regarding ecological responsibility in National Parks, our interview objective aimed to identify educational strategies to enhance visitor compliance.

Our goal was to understand what drives visitors to national parks and how they access and utilize information.

Key Takeaways:

  • Visitors prepare for their trips by seeking out specific information related to their needs.
  • Visitors are more likely to engage with park rules when the information is easily accessible and clearly communicates the ecological impact.
  • Cleanliness of the park profoundly affects the visitor experience, highlighting the need for effective communication of park rules.

Usability Testing

Our design thinking goals centered on creating a user-friendly, engaging mobile guide that effectively communicates park rules and fosters ecological responsibility among National Park visitors, however in order to do that -- we focused on some of the pain points our users experienced when navigating to learn about rules and responsibilities currently within the Gates of the Arctic site.

How Many Clicks?

Through user-testing, we measured 'how many clicks' it took for users to search and find information on the site relating to wilderness knowledge and ecological responsibility. We determined several locations on the site for users to find specific information regarding wilderness safety and ecological responsibility, and recorded the success of users in navigating to those locations, how long it took them, and how many clicks it took when navigating. Results yielded a 22% success rate due to the overwhelming number of participants who abandoned their search.

The example user flow shows just one potential path among several for accessing key information, suggesting that important content might be frequently overlooked by visitors.

Landing Page Design:

  • The initial view requires extensive scrolling to reach meaningful content.
  • Essential information about the park is buried deep within the site, making it less accessible.

User Interaction Flow:

  • First Click: Users must scroll past three images to find and click on a "Plan Your Visit" call to action.
  • Second Click: Directs users to safety information essential for their visit.
  • Third Click: Leads to information about ecological responsibility and "Leave No Trace" practices, redirecting users off the main landing page.
  • Fourth Click: From the safety page, users are guided to a "Preserve Your Wilderness" page through another in-line navigation link.

Key Takeaways:

  • Multiple clicks required to discover critical information may lead to user disengagement before reaching important content.
  • Highlights the need for a redesigned call to action that ensures visitors receive necessary information before their visit.

The results from our usabilty testing, in addition to insights gained from competitive research, informed our call to action on the Gates of the Arctic landing page -- Know Before You Go.

Design Thinking Approach

Our design thinking goals centered on creating a user-friendly, engaging mobile guide that effectively communicates park rules and fosters ecological responsibility among National Park visitors, however in order to do that -- we focused on some of the pain points our users experienced when navigating to learn about rules and responsibilities currently within the Gates of the Arctic site.

By creating a journey map of the visitor's experience planning to visit a park & their emotional journey when visiting a wilderness park, we were able to identify the pain points that park visitors needed to overcome when preparing for wilderness travel.

Empathize: We developed a persona, Sam Pierce, a nature lover who embodies the goals and frustrations of our typical park visitor. Sam's journey, from planning the visit to the actual park experience, highlighted the need for streamlined, accessible information.

User Need: Park visitors need to be informed of rules and guidelines at the start of their trip in order to engage with ecological responsibility initiatives.

Define: We identified that our design needed to bridge the gap between user needs for information accessibility and the business objective of promoting ecological responsibility.

Ideate: Our team brainstormed and sketched out various solutions, considering how digital tools like mobile websites could enhance the pre-visit planning experience. How might we design an effective communication tool or interface to streamline pre-visit planning and increase engagement and education of park rules and responsibilities?

Prototype: We created mid-fi and hi-fi prototypes, focusing on a user-friendly interface that provided easy navigation and interactive educational strategy. The prototypes were refined through iterative feedback to ensure they met user expectations and business goals.

Test: Usability testing with six participants helped us gauge the effectiveness of our designs. The testing showed a 100% success rate in users agreeing to park rules via a 'check box' component, indicating a strong alignment with our educational objectives.


The final design featured a consolidated information architecture that allows users to access all relevant rules and guidelines in one place, with interactive buttons and icons guiding them through the content. A gamification element was introduced through a digital badge system, rewarding users for learning about ecological responsibility. This interface was developed using a mobile-first approach, ensuring wide accessibility and user engagement.

Outcomes and Impact

Usability testing of the 'Know Before You Go Wilderness Guide' yielded a 100% success in task completion -- to click a box in agreement of Ecological Rules & Responsibilities and to Earn a Wilderness Badge. User feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with many highlighting the ease of accessing information and the fun, interactive elements of the guide.

Future Directions

Moving forward, we plan to conduct a heuristic evaluation to further refine the interface and ensure it meets design and accessibility standards. Additionally, we are exploring the development of non-digital components such as physical badges or stickers to complement the digital experience, further fostering a sense of responsibility and connection to the park.


The "Know Before You Go" project stands as a testament to the power of user-centered design in addressing real-world problems. By integrating thoughtful design with practical functionality, we crafted an experience that not only informs but also inspires park visitors to embrace their role in preserving the natural beauty of Gates of the Arctic National Park.

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