A Revolutionary Parks Directory Platform

Images of ParksHerts parks directory website interfaces

A Revolutionary Parks Directory Platform

ParksHerts is a revolutionary platform in support of this objective that brings parks into the digital age. The platform motivates citizens to lead active lifestyles through inspirational presentation of parks, exercise routes, events (e.g. park runs) and activities (e.g. yoga sessions).

ParksHerts was an APSE finalist for innovation and has been showcased as a model of best practice at various events, including Smart Parks and Green Flag awards.

The project was a collaboration between Hertfordshire councils who had secured public health funding to encourage active lifestyles as a means of preventing long-term health conditions.

Friends of Parks Stakeholder Engagement

Images of ParksHerts parks directory website map features

Friends of Parks Stakeholder Engagement

The target audience is Hertfordshire residents, however there was a challenge of how to create a platform that appeals and delivers outcomes for regular families and casual users and not just those that are already active.

We worked in collaboration with the councils to plan and deliver a series of engagement activities with Hertfordshire residents.
The activities included surveys with members of the public, focus group sessions and an engagement day with Friends of Parks groups and other stakeholders.

The research informed the planning of effective user journeys that maximise engagement, ease of use and repeat visits.

Nurturing Audience Engagement with Parks

 ParkHerts delivers engagement at different user journey milestones:


ParksHerts enables citizens to identify parks matching their interests (e.g. running or cycling, ‘making a day of it’ or simply getting some fresh air) via a simple wizard.


During the visit

ParksHerts’ location-aware features also detect when citizens are within park boundaries, enabling them to jump straight to the individual park profile to explore the map, available routes and the day’s park events.


ParkHerts prompts citizens to share details of their visits with friends on social media at the touch of a button to encourage new users to get active in Hertfordshire parks.

Parks Directory Wizard

Images of ParksHerts parks directory website user journey

Parks Directory Wizard

As part of the pre-visit user journey, the research undertaken revealed that a wizard was desirable to help citizens find parks relevant to them. However there was also a clear preference that questions should be kept to be a minimum and shouldn’t alienate casual users by making the platform feel like it is exclusively for fitness enthusiasts, or, conversely, making it feel patronising.

We carefully created a design that is non-judgemental and welcoming to all with positive language and bright and vibrant presentation.

As a consequence the platform that is very easy to use and appeals to a wide-variety of demographics and lifestyles.

Sustaining Interest in Parks

Images of ParksHerts parks directory website mapping features on different devices

Sustaining Interest in Parks

ParksHerts is designed to maintain interest and engagement with citizens in the long-term. The memorable design is animated to convey a sense of energy and dynamism and automatically changes with the seasons.

The platform is also location-aware, enabling citizens to find parks nearest to their current location and is also aware when people are within park boundaries.

HelloParks Parks Directory Platform

Screenshot of HelloParks parks directory website landing page

HelloParks Parks Directory Platform

One of the lessons learnt from the ParksHerts project was the realisation that the platform is relevant for local authorities nationwide to better promote these key assets for health and wellbeing. The platform is now available as a commercial ‘off-the-shelf’ product called HelloParks and can be procured via the Government’s G-Cloud Digital Marketplace.

As part of the commercialisation of the platform a number of innovative new features have been integrated, including an enhanced mapping system that enables administrators to plot and publish new exercise routes within minutes – all from within their browser.

Project Outcomes

ParksHerts has successfully increased public awareness of park routes, activities and events in Hertfordshire and has become a popular platform with over 3,000 families using it during one Summer Bank Holiday alone to plan visits and activities in Hertfordshire parks and open spaces.

Parksherts encourages individuals and families to get active using parks as a resource for health and wellbeing, track distance covered and share their achievements using social media.

The platform also generates added value and interest for parks as a destination with location-aware mapping services allowing visitors to follow walking routes and find places of interest on their smartphones in real-time whilst in a park.

ParksHerts has been presented as a model of best practice at a range of events in the sports and leisure sector, including Smart Parks and Future Parks.