Have you been getting a lot of use out of the new Parks Portal site? It's been in Beta for a few weeks now and its official launch is scheduled for sometime this month (according to an anonymous commenter so it must be true). The site allows event organizers to enter in a lot of metadata about their event in a public park; and then (the thinking goes), park users will be able to search for events.
This seems like a nice enough tool, but do you envision yourself making use of it? One problem we encountered: it's easy to find a specific event if you have one in mind, but discovering new events is a little harder. The site has eighteen categories -- a UI issue referred to as "extreme polyheirarchy" that can leave users unable to make a choice. The "share" feature is pleasantly modern, but it's embedded in the menu bar, far from the info about the event, making it unclear what exactly is being shared. And if we may nitpick just a bit further, the favicon is unfamiliar. Our own website is a paragon of excellent design, which is why we can point out others' faults so easily.
This isn't to say that we think the website's doomed to failure, or isn't a good idea. On the bright side, Parks Trust Communications Director Peter Tucker tells us that they'll look at opening up the database in a future release, so the info could be accessed by, for example, EveryBlock or SeeClickFix or ParkScan or TownMe or Yelp. That would be nice. For now, we're not sure that anyone but event organizers will feel motivated to use it -- but perhaps you'd like to prove otherwise?
· SF Parks Portal Baffling, and is Data Open? [Curbed SF]
· Top 10 Information Architecture Mistakes [Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox]