Project: SeattleParks

Team Danielle Gatsos & Corey Christiansen

Don’t miss the adventure that’s just down the street!” – Seattle.Gov Parks

Recreation Signs

With 400+ city parks, 100+ state parks, 180 King County parks, two national forests and six national parks; the Seattle area is full of more than enough natural resources to attract the 1.9 million that live within King County and those who visit. Most of us live within 30 minutes of lakes, rivers, hiking and biking trails, play-fields, golf courses, playgrounds, skate parks and amazing views!

Unfortunately, in order to locate our nearby parks we have to search several different sites, download a couple of apps or drive around all day. Seattle’s outdoor enthusiasts need a mobile application that helps them locate parks that fit their needs. They need an app that opens directly to a map of parks in their location and gives them access to information such as directions, hours and if there is anything else they need to know before they go. There is an inherent need for this app to be mobile because many outdoor enthusiasts are very active and often need access while walking, driving, riding in buses or even on their boats.

App Icon ScreenAudience:

SeattleParks is designed for iPhone toting outdoor enthusiasts who live in Seattle or are just visiting. While this is maybe somewhat of a niche audience, it will likely be used by a wide demographic of active male and female adults. A columnist from the Orange County Register recently wrote “…in Seattle’s Cascade neighborhood, most people appear as if they’ve stepped out of an REI catalogue.” (Whiting) This type of portrayal by the media of Seattle residents as being outdoorsy is not uncommon. For Seattle’s outdoor enthusiasts, installing and using SeattleParks would be the first, most logical step to planning the next adventure.

Seattle has several very well-known parks and public recreation facilities including Cal Anderson Park (recognized by & Yahoo! Travel as one of the nation’s best parks) and Powell Barnett Park (recognized by Disney’s as a top park for kids of all ages). The Seattle area also has a large population of technology savvy iPhone users; making it a prime location for version 1 of SeattleParks

The SeattleParks app has a purpose for anyone with a desire to find new places for recreation. Want to find a nearby beach to get some sun? How about a nearby playground for your kids? Whether your traveling or exploring new places near your home, SeattleParks would suggest recreation areas that match your desires.

SeattleParks V1 - Information FlowFunctionality (version 1):
When you open SeattleParks it uses your location services to display a map with parks in your area. At the bottom of the screen is a toggle to switch to an activity menu that displays a list of activities available in your area including baseball, basketball, saltwater beaches, freshwater beaches, bike trails, hand carry boat launches, motorized boat launches, cricket, dog parks, disc golf, fire pit, football, golf, hiking trials, horse shoe, playgrounds, p-patches, skate parks, soccer, tennis, track, view, volleyball and Wi-Fi enabled.

SeattleParks - Scenario 1 Information Flow
Scenario 1: Babysitting at a friend’s house and want to find somewhere to take the kids.
To find parks located in the area, open SeattleParks and tap “ok” to allow location services. Once the location has been found, tap the thumbnail icon in the desired location. Information about the park and directions are then displayed.

SeattleParks - Scenario 2 Information Flow
Scenario 2: Just bought a kayak, where are all the public boat launches for hand carry boats?
To find a small boat launch for hand carry boats, open SeattleParks and tap the “Activity Menu” tab and select “Boat Launches (hand carry)”. A map with paddle boat icons appears and after tapping on one in the desired location, the app takes you to more information about the park. To select a different park, press “Back”.

SeattleParks - Scenario 3 Information Flow
Scenario 3: Need to send park information to a friend.
To quickly send the location of a park in the SeattleParks database to a friend, tap the sharing button in the upper-right corner of the park information screen and choose the method of sharing you prefer.

SeattleParks - foursquare integrationProposed version 2 updates & added features:

  • Easily readable mobile browser pages with address, contact info, photos, hours and other details
  • Full foursquare integration
  • Option to text search parks database
  • Trail maps and park layouts
  • Ability to tag or bookmark favorites
  • In app notifications for park closures, required permits, etc.
  • Ability to send feedback to developer within the app
  • Help section
  • Added feature categories (campgrounds, community centers, etc)

Features to be consider for later versions:

  • Ability to purchase a park permit, view the current weather, watch live webcam (were available) or upload your own review/photos
  • Warning symbol located next to the park name in the list if a park permit or other fee is required
  • Offline mode allowing use of most feature with little or no connection

User Research to be completed:

  • Which section of the app is used most?
  • Helpful to have activity menu auto populate with recently selected activities?
  • How useful are user generated comments/ratings about parks?
  • What area is the app is most accessed from?

Data Sources:

Several sites would need to be scraped for data to create a comprehensive database of outdoor recreation spaces in and around Seattle. It may be possible to approach these organizations and request they package the needed data in such a way that it can easily be imported into the SeattleParks database. Version 1 would use the Google Maps API and include data from City of Seattle Parks and King County Parks. Version 2 could incorporate Washington State Parks, the National Parks Service, National Forest Service BLM public lands, campgrounds, ski resorts and other recreation sites.

  • Google Maps API
    • Let’s you easily send your location
    • Easy to find related user generated content, maps and directions
    • Upload and view photos with location attached
  • National Forest Service – (Colville, Gifford Pinchot, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie, Okanogan, Olympic, Wenatchee)
    • Find a forest by state (ex.)
    • Park descriptions, pictures and live web cams (ex.)
    • Fire danger level posted (ex.)
    • Current conditions & district reports contact numbers (ex.)
    • Recreation reports (ex.)
    • ESRI GIS data (ex.)
    • Currently in the process of updating website (8/7/10)
  • King County Parks
    • 180 parks
    • Organized as parks, trails and rentals
    • Picture, description, size, trail length, use and directions (ex.)
    • Google map of access points (ex.)


Currently gov. sites such as Washington State Parks have databases with large amounts of data that is under utilized. There are plenty of apps for National Park maps and finding dog parks but currently there are no apps that include all of the city and county parks in the Seattle area.

One of the core functions of this app is the ability to browse by recreation activities. This ability would appeal to a wide audience of mobile users because it would allow anyone looking for a specific type of recreation space to quickly find information about the closest available locations.

Maintaining Brand Identity:

We decided to have the iPhone icon consist of the traditional Seattle symbol: the Space Needle, as well as a green background representing the natural beauty of the Evergreen state. In addition, we took familiar sign icons from state parks and recreational spots and converted them to fit within a compass to illustrate the concept of navigation to outdoor parks and trails. Once inside the application the same icons are utilized to demonstrate specific park offerings.

Competing Apps (iTunes App Store):

While there is a wealth of park related apps already in the iTunes app store, there currently aren’t any that allow you to find parks based on features and location that contain enough data for the Seattle area to make them useful. All of the apps were tested for difficulty and accuracy of both finding parks in the area and finding parks with specific features.

There were several apps we checked out such as ParkFindUSA, Smart Maps – Seattle, and Park Maps that included only one or two of the databases listed above and were missing the find by feature functionality.

Similar App - Dog Parks NYC

Dog Parks NYC app iconDog Parks NYC (Apptika, Inc)
Price: $0.99
Category: Travel
App Store Rating: 3 stars (17 votes)
Last Update: October, 2009
With Apptika’s Dog Parks App, you have an ACCURATE listing of dog-friendly parks, beaches and trails in New York City with:

  • Quickly locate the closest dog parks to your location
  • Browse the entire county
  • Get turn-by-turn directions
  • Provides address, amenities, hours of operation, leash law requirements, phone contact information, web site address and special information, when available, such as fenced small/frail dog areas, park size, prohibited areas, foxtail alerts, etc.
  • Ability to save to Favorites.
  • Separate app for the iPad!
  • Built-in interactive map utilizes geolocation

The good- Loading screen tells you its working, interface is clean, intuitive and all of the necessary information is included. Generally good branding.

The bad- No way to search by amenities. Some of the amenities symbols are grey and some are the same shade of green as the app icon and buttons. Advertising is rather bold and takes up a large portion of the screen (on the iPad). When you click on directions it takes you out of the app. When you re-open app it loses your place. Link in iTunes store to Apptika’s website is not working.

Competitor - iLocate Parks screenflow

iLocate - Parks app iconiLocate – Parks (Brighthouse Labs)
Price: $0.99
Category: Navigation
App Store Rating: 2.5 stars (9 votes)
Last Update: October, 2009
Features (as described on the Apple website):

  • Provides database of all Parks including directions and contact info.
  • Supposed to work anywhere, using your GPS.
  • Call park with one click on iPhone
  • One Touch Search.

The good- The app uses the convenience of GPS navigation to help users locate parks nearest to them.

The bad- After opening the app and allowing it to find my location I was taken to a somewhat worthless list of parks that also included museums and baseball associations. When I tapped on “Map” I was taken to a map that shows relatively few parks mixed in with lots of clubs and tourist attractions. They give an option to “view map in maps app” but instead of going to the maps app, it goes to the Google Maps website in Safari. No option to find by features.

One reviewer said that she was searching for parks that consisted of athletic fields or playgrounds but instead found botanical gardens and a restaurant. It seems like this app doesn’t realize what the word “parks” encompasses and may be too limited to fulfill its description.

Competitor - Parks n Rec

iLocate - Parks app iconParks n Rec (SeaBloom & Associates, INC)
Price: Free
Category: Navigation
Description: Looking for a local park or recreation area? Interested in getting the kids out to play or finding an outdoor place to relax? Vacationing and need to know where the parks are? Parks n Rec pin points locations for you.
App Store Rating: 3 stars (9 votes)
Last Update: July, 2010
Features (as described on the Apple website):

  • Provides database of all Parks including directions and contact info.
  • Includes athletic parks, courts, trails, etc.
  • Allows users to add pics and ratings influencing user contribution and increasing app stickiness.Parks n Rec screenshot


The good- A free app with a small community of people populating the database. Ability to save as favorites, upload pics (likely unfiltered), list of park features (limited- see below).

Reviewers seemed very pleased with this free app. One reviewer related the process to a treasure hunt. It also seems to help crowd sourcing. Traditional outdoor enthusiasts as well as extreme athletes can utilize the features on this app.

The bad- When you first load the app it sits on your current location and doesn’t show any parks unless you double tap it to zoom in (see screen 2 in the screenflow). Profile feature is very confusing, allows anonymous logins and pops up on first use (after installing). The park features listed are not taken from the parks website, they are added only by users and thus many park don’t have any listed. No address, contact info or link to the park website is provided. If you want to search for only one specific activity you have to turn off all of the other activities (see screenshot). The in-app advertising is not relevant and shows up in strange places within the app. Doesn’t include all of King County Parks (Cougar Mt.).

Other park related apps:

National Parks Companion (Shaun J. Chu), Find Parks (DoubleTapApps), Olympic National Park Map (, National Park (Alpine App, LLC), National Park Maps (Cartosoft, LLC), US National Park Maps (DMBC), eParkMaps (eParkGuide, LLC), Sports&Recs (Michael Quach), Park Maps (Big Air Software, LLC), ParkFindUSA (Timestar Services, LLC), Smart Maps – Seattle (Alexandru Halmagean)

Possible Sponsors:

Several organizations have been identified as possible sponsors. On the corporate side, there are many Seattle based companies such as REI, Eddie Bauer and Outdoor Research that would likely be interested in donating funds or taking ownership. There are also companies which already offer some type of park mapping products like Mapdango that may be interested in having an app in the iTunes store.

The preferred sponsor would be gov. grants, the parks and rec. dept, local city govs. or non-profit associations. Gov. grants and money from sponsoring organizations may have certain requirements attached but they would likely allow us to create an app that truly benefits the community rather than a corporation.

In-app advertising would be the fall back position in-case corporate or gov. funding fell through. At between $1-$2 per click, even a small user base could support further development.


There are many cross marketing opportunities for SeattleParks. Since the application will be launching in the Seattle market, funding will likely be provided by Seattle-area sporting good stores or related outlets. After all, there is a culture full of outdoor enthusiasts throughout the Northwest. We need to capitalize on that market by contacting and cross promoting with brands that are already recognized. We want SeattleParks to become an essential part of the outdoor entertainment culture in the Pacific Northwest. From hiking spots to boat launches and baseball fields; SeattleParks will be the go-to guide for both athletes and outdoor enthusiasts.

Cross Promo MarketingCross Promo Marketing

It will be important to utilize local resources for cross marketing opportunities.

For example, local sporting goods stores typically have some sort of pamphlet of flier that advertises nearby venues to bike, hike, swim, etc. We could have pre-printed inserts and ask if we can place them inside the pamphlets. It would be hassle free for their staff and since most outdoor retailers pride themselves on being knowledgeable and involved in the area, it would be against their best interest to refuse providing their consumers with this resource.

Another goal would be to have the application icon featured on the store website as a travel resource.

There are two ways we could go about sponsorship. One is to go to a large corporation like REI and ask them if they would be involved in sponsoring our app, and in turn we would brand it with the REI symbol. While this could be a great way to quickly bring in some money, it is definitely not the only solution.

SeattleParks can also gain sponsorship by offering an exchange package. If the stores are willing to feature SeattleParks in-store and in web advertisements for a specific amount of time, the store would be advertised within the app itself with a link to each vendor’s online marketplace. Vendors could run ads featuring anything from sale of the week to special deal codes offered only to SeattleParks’ users.

Candidates for this type of partnership include:

Even though it’s important to hit the large outlets, it would also be beneficial to link up with local, smaller shops to emphasize the connection with the local culture.

These types of shops include:

In addition, a similar partnership would work with northwest outdoor resource websites such as:

Tip: Before offering to advertise for any of these outlets it may be wise to simply ask for endorsement as one of their nature resources. If they refuse to offer the free promo, then you can move on to the mutual sponsorship option.

Establish a SeattleParks Community

People in the parkIn order to keep users coming back and spreading the word about your product it is important to make them feel like they are part of an exclusive community. Giving them a sense of belonging by building a network structured specifically around their passion for the outdoors will only increase user loyalty.

There are many different established groups of outdoor enthusiasts in the Seattle area. These would be great places to begin building a newer, larger community of park users. Networks such as The Mountaineers, PNW Hiking and Adventure Group, Women Climbers NW, Pursue the Outdoors and the Seattle Bicycle Club are great networks for SeattleParks to infiltrate. Going to events would not only help the SeattleParks team learn how to better serve their users, it would also give users more faith and connection to the application itself. Getting involved lets the users know you care, and makes you and your product relatable. It also gives them a story to tell. Promoters handing out business cards and demoing the app should emphasize the importance of joining the SeattleParks community.

The networking can happen both online and off. By getting involved in meet-ups SeattleParks could get exposure right where it’s needed most, among users in the field. In addition, creating buzz online among these networks can get them talking about the app on their own blogs and social networking platforms. After all, Seattleites love to blog. Enthusiasts like these are always looking for new places to go, that’s why they joined these networks in the first place. SeattleParks could be just what they need to open their horizons even further. Once SeattleParks has an online presence, generating buzz by posting links to the SeattleParks page on forums and blogs should bring traffic to the app.

The people who will join and integrate into these networks will likely be volunteers, interns, or dedicated believers in the app (the team of designers and developers). We would refer to field promoters as our “active team” and they would be responsible for hyping the app and writing about their adventures in review blogs.

Join the Basic Social Media Platforms

In addition to joining established outdoor networks, it will also be important to build an online presence in the most frequented social networks to hit the secondary targets; those who may not be classified as “enthusiasts” but just need something to remind them that they can get out and do something different. It will be essential for this app to utilize an online identity or avatar for users to “like” or promote the app via their own online profiles on Facebook, Twitter or other social networking platforms. By tweeting about featured trail sites, beaches, etc. the application will also show up in search engine results when people are looking for local venues. The app icon for SeattleParks should be used on all of these pages to strengthen brand recognition.

Once SeattleParks has a handful of followers, the app administrators can get them involved by having online events like organized meet-ups or even by introducing an online badge competition. The followers of the networks can vote on the badge and it could be downloaded from the main website or from Facebook. When others begin spreading the word about the app and downloading the badge for their own web profiles the earned media will aid exposure. Ultimately this app would have an online newsletter and organize large community gatherings among the followers to make them feel even more like part of an exclusive network. This will increase app exposure as well as repeated use by constantly updating patrons on featured outdoor spots.

Facebook ads are also an important asset because impressions or clicks are extremely affordable. These ads would be targeted toward people that live in the King County area and enjoy all sorts of outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, biking, etc. Facebook is now the most popular site on the internet according to an article at CNNMoney showing that content sharing has become a huge online force and that it is changing the way people search for products and services. SeattleParks will need a strong presence there.

More Social Production
It will be important to have demos of the application available for reviewers and fans to link to. While the optimal result would be to drive everyone to the SeattleParks website, we cannot forget well-known social production platforms like YouTube and SlideShare. These are perfect locations to build more online profiles and demonstrate the app’s functionality in an easy-to-follow manner. The more we bombard the internet with SeattleParks content, the more we increase our likelihood of going viral.

Foursquare will be an integral part of the second version of our application, therefore it will be important for SeattleParks to maintain a presence on there as well. We suggest creating personal profiles for each member of the active team and checking in each time you visit a new park. Include a picture for good measure and a little review about what you did there. Because we have foursquare integration you will actually be building your own database through their platform. In addition, it will help others discover the app when they see friends checking in and using it.

Build an Online Blog Site to Serve as Main Web Resource

Keeping a blog up to date with current events and outdoor venue features is an ideal way to stay in the top of search engine results and build a community of followers. It will also be a great way for others promoting the application in their own platforms to link back to a resource with controlled data, not just a listing in an app marketplace. This blog should be like an adventure or park review site. Every time a member of the SeattleParks active team (field promoters) goes to an event, joins and group, or visits a new park it should be blogged about.

Ultimately the online blog will serve as the homepage for SeattleParks. All networks will drive users back to this page so they can find out more about the app and get download information. I checked on and is an available domain.

Search Engine Optimization

The Website: In order to have an optimized website it will be important to have frequently updated content. Remember that outdoor enthusiasts may not be searching for an app at all; it is more likely that they will be searching for nearby trails or reviews of them. This is where the SeattleParks website comes in. By including keyword dense reviews on the SeattleParks blog site about good trails, parks, and other types of featured amenities you are much more likely to show up in search engines. Similarly, potential users may also be searching for sporting good items, and once ties are built with the local vendors SeattleParks can rate and praise their products and link back to sponsored sites as well as drive people to the app.

Mobile Web: In today’s tech culture many are searching for park resources and references via their mobile phone. For this reason the main website should be optimized for the mobile platform as well. All we need to do to have the website optimized for mobile browsers is have a mobile-specific CSS code that simplifies the site by removing most images and fancy features.

Another thing that is important to remember is that mobile browsers are often location-specific. A way to get on their radar is to join all the local directories and include as full a profile as possible to maximize keyword density. Websites like and CityStar have local directories for businesses that participate in providing sports and recreational services.

Ultimately, the goal for both web and mobile optimization is to have as many inbound links as possible. Joining these directories is a simple start as well as getting reviews on blog sites and social networks. Once we have sponsorships those sites will link to SeattleParks as well.

Both the mobile and web platforms should also be monitored with Google analytics to see which marketing initiatives are working and optimize the amount of hits the application gets. It’s absolutely free and is an extremely useful tool for SEO and figuring out which keywords and links bring in the most traffic. This is especially useful in a small business startup because marketers can narrow down the best places to focus their time and energy.

App Site: Keyword density is important for all of the SeattleParks platforms, and the iTunes store is no exception. It will be important in the app description to include the general location of the parks (Seattle metro) as well as the different “types” of people who may like this app. While iTunes does not want you to keyword stuff (list a bunch of irrelevant keywords to trick searches) there are ways to get yourself seen on a wider scale, legally. It’s all about context, for example saying “This app is for people in the Seattle area who like to hike, bike, swim, camp….etc” allows you to use a list of potential keywords that are directly relatable to the app. That way anyone searching for Seattle and any of those recreational activities will likely see this SeattleParks. Similarly, the description should also reference competing apps that are already established so we show up on their searches too. One way to do this is by saying “Others apps like this include…[list of competing apps here].” Also link to positive reviews from your app description, and try to get reviewers to link to the page too.

Online PR – Big Launch

1. Pick a Special Day to Launch

If possible it may benefit to launch SeattleParks on a day when people may be extra enthusiastic about outdoor activities or healthy living because press outlets will be much more likely to feature the app. Good days for an outdoor app release would be Earth Day, the First Day of Spring, Arbor Day, May 1 (the beginning of National Physical Fitness & Sports Month), National Safe Boating Week (May 7), World Environment Day (June), Child Health Day (1st Monday of October), National Forest Products Week (3rd Sunday of October), and Good Nutrition Month (November).

2. Start With Who You Know

Social NetworkEmail marketing is a great way to spread the word about your application with minimal effort and without spending a dime. Think about the people you know in your professional and personal life and begin creating a list. Have your friends, family, and staff do the same. You may be surprised how many names and emails you come up with. Design a nice email that is a direct reflection of the application. Utilize an exporter like, if you have less than 500 subscribers it’s free, and it will track click and open rates so you can see where you failed and succeeded. It also automates a trackable share link so your email can easily be shared with unlisted third parties.

3. Reach Out to Locals

While SeattleParks should not forget to submit the app to standard app review sites, it will be just as important to reach out to local residents who are influential among the outdoor enthusiast communities. For example it would be a good idea to contact outdoor bloggers such as Seattle Outdoor Adventures Seattle Hiking, and Seattle Song and ask them to write a review on the app trial right before or just upon launch. We could give them the beta version and see if they have any input. By making them involved in testing they will feel personally invested in the project and will be much more likely to promote it. People in today’s age are more apt to trust blogs and networks than typical advertisements because we all hold personal recommendations to a higher esteem that traditional marketing and sales.

Creating a digital press package may also be a good idea when reaching out to potential reviewers. The easier you make it on them the more likely they are to pick up the package. Put together a list of important links like the link to the website on the app store as well as the website along with a downloadable logo or badge so reviewers can easily link back to the SeattleParks page.

4. Traditional PR

Even with today’s referral driven market, bloggers aren’t the only writers that should be contacted upon launch of SeattleParks. It is also important to remember traditional PR resources such as magazines and newsletters. Here is a list of a few publications that have both print and web presences in the Northwest outdoor entertainment market:

Magazine Covers

5. Buzz up the Social Media Networks

Utilize social media in all the ways previously mentioned but be sure to have countdowns on your pages for the launch and make periodic announcements to remind people of features and benefits of using this app.

By creating a buzz about the app prior to and immediately upon launch it will be easier to maintain the buzz through the viral online environment expanding on the initial excitement about the app. The more resources that are notified about the launch of SeattleParks, the more likely we are to get exposure that will continue throughout social networks and throughout search engines.

SeattleParks app team members:

Corey Christiansen: I am a Social Media Manager for M80 working on several campaigns for Microsoft and a first year graduate student in the Master of Communication in Digital Media program at the University of Washington. I spend most of my time managing social networks and researching emerging technologies.

Danielle Gatsos: I am the Vice President of Marketing for The William Craig Company (WCCI) an Appraisal Management Firm, and am one quarter away from finishing my MCDM degree (Fall is my last). While I love digital design and multimedia production I am also an avid outdoorswoman enjoying hiking, fishing, soccer, snowboarding, camping, mountain biking, etc.

Icons (57×57 & 512×512):
SeattleParks icon 57x57SeattleParks icon 512x512

5 Responses to “Project: SeattleParks”


  1. Corey Christiansen :: My 9 week exploration into the iPhone App Market - 21 August 2010

    […] that it’s usually not sustainable. As I’m putting the finishing touches on our strategy for SeattleParks, I’m beginning to see that there may be a way to get certain types of apps to market much […]

  2. Course Wrap | MCDM Smartphone Class - 23 August 2010

    […] Seattle Parks […]

  3. My 9 week exploration into the iPhone App Market | Corey Christiansen :: portfolio & blog - 8 October 2010

    […] that it’s usually not sustainable. As I’m
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  4. Student Projects | MCDM Smartphone Class - 19 October 2010

    […] Seattle Parks […]

  5. My 9 week exploration into the iPhone App Market | Corey Christiansen - 21 November 2010

    […] that it’s usually not sustainable. As I’m
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