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How the Denver Botanic Gardens are growing with Drupal

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Last month, Elevated Third shared its best practices for helping nonprofits be successful with Drupal. The team at Elevated Third offered some sage advice, including why it’s important for nonprofit organizations to invest in open source and to prioritize integrating with existing tools. If you need a refresher, here are 6 things to consider during a nonprofit web design project.

Doing more with less is always important for nonprofit organizations. With a defined budget and a small staff, nonprofits must make the most out of their limited resources to build digital experiences that make an impact. However, the ability for nonprofits to extend invaluable resources with digital doesn’t stop there. In partnership with Elevated Third, the Denver Botanic Gardens discovered how they could use Drupal to grow its mission beyond the physical space.

Growing with Drupal

Since its founding in 1951, the Denver Botanic Gardens has emerged as a cultural staple of the city. What started as a 100 acre plot has grown into two distinct locations at York Street and Chatfield Farms. In addition to the flora and fauna, the Denver Botanic Gardens offers a variety of programing including a summer concert series, classes, exhibitions, research opportunities and more. However, these unique programs weren’t easily visible to first time visitors. As the Botanic Gardens was reaching the conclusion of their physical expansion, they recognized the importance of using digital to not only elevate their mission, but to expand their audience.

As if budget and mission weren’t already enough to balance, departmental goals, business objectives and user needs also needed to work in harmony. The Botanic Gardens looked to long time partner, Elevated Third, to help build a site that satisfied business and departmental requirements, while making user experience the priority.

Letting the Garden speak for itself

Elevated Third began with thorough user research and analysis of the current website in order to architect and plan a new site that would flatten navigation, reduce irrelevant content and expose the previously hidden offerings of the Gardens. In keeping the website user friendly, Elevated Third wanted to let the beauty of the Gardens speak for itself.

After partnering with Elevated Third for nearly six years, the Gardens has been able to grow their website in the right way. Using Drupal and Acquia Cloud, a refreshed botanicgardens.org makes it easier to browse events, see classes and buy tickets online with a filtered events calendar. The Botanic Gardens uses third-party management system ATMS+ to track calendar and class data with internal systems. While the website runs on Drupal, the team at Elevated Third wasn't afraid to integrate with existing tools and systems. Elevated Third built a digital ecosystem to integrate the data consumed with ATMS+ with the public site. To better grow their donation and membership base, the team also developed a non-profit fundraising tool for their corporate giving page.

gardens image

A key component of making the new site user-centric was to ensure that users could engage with it via mobile devices. Basic information, such as open hours, free days, parking and events all needed to be easily consumable with responsive design. Data has shown that return visitors needed this kind of information right away to take advantage of all of the Gardens’ offerings upon arrival. Mobile was imperative to meeting the needs of this group. It was also necessary to clarify what was happening at the Gardens' two unique locations. To do this, Elevated Third worked with the Gardens to design a visual system to separate the Chatfield and York Street locations.

The refreshed Drupal website has seen budding reviews and continues to support the success of the Gardens. By building a site that is intuitive to use and prioritizes responsive design, users are more likely to spend more time on the site. Elevated Third created a taxonomy categorization system that bundles related classes, artwork, and garden exhibitions together on a single page to engage users past their initial search. By coupling programing with highly visual content, the Gardens has been able to expose users to new offerings, which not only extends community engagement but revenue. The Gardens’ work with Drupal has enabled them to extend their mission and grow new guests into loyal community members.

In partnership with Elevated Third, the Gardens will continue to iterate and improve the site to make it easy for visitors to see and experience everything that the gardens has to offer. In addition to York Street and Chatfield Farms, www.botanicgardens.org represents the newest location available for guests to engage with the Gardens.

"Elevated Third team created an impressive user experience for visitors with our website redesign projects. Our world-class website encompasses best practice from the beautiful visual separation of our two physical locations to ticketing and calendar implementation." - Doris Boardman, Website and SEO Manager

How to do more with less

Elevated Third has a tenured history of working with nonprofits, and supports programs that connect Drupal developers, designers, and out-of-the-box thinkers to their community, in addition to taking on several pro bono projects each year. Elevated Third’s partnership with the Denver Botanic Gardens has extended beyond site launch, as Elevated Third will continue to partner with the Gardens through site iteration, planning, and future strategy.

Inspired by the open source tenets of the Drupal community, the Botanic Gardens is committed to collaborating with other nonprofit organizations to help them become successful with Drupal. To share their knowledge with others in the community, The Botanic Gardens partnered with Elevated Third and Acquia to host “Digital Marketing: Do More with Less,” an educational networking event which helped nonprofit and higher education organizations leverage digital. Here, Elevated Third shared how working with nonprofit teams allows them to put mission, passion, and drive first, and connect with some of the most dedicated people in Colorado.

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