COVID-19 Outdoors | MSC | Website | Project

Giving Kiwis the clarity and confidence of what they can and can’t do in the outdoors during the COVID alert levels

Spearheaded by the Mountain Safety Council and Somar Digital, the COVID-19 Outdoors website was developed to simply and clearly communicate to Kiwis the acceptable outdoor recreation allowances during the various COVID alert levels.

The objective was to create a central website for Kiwis to go that had all the necessary information to make informed decisions about outdoor activities such as going to the beach or tramping.

The intended users were any Kiwi who wanted to go into the outdoors. Kiwis love the outdoors, it's part of our nature and who we are and one of the main ways to release a bit of stress during lockdown was being able to spend a bit of time outside. With that in mind the website had to be applicable and speak to all Kiwis during the COVID alert levels. link)

User Insights to Guide the Project

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User insights that guided the project came from monitoring conversations happening at the time both online and through MSC’s user base. This was a very uncertain time for many Kiwis and one of the big questions was what can I do outside while still following the COVID alert level guidelines?

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Bringing Together Over 30 Organisations

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MSC brought together a diverse group of over 30 organisations to contribute to the website. There was a huge amount of work and cross organisation coordination that went on behind the scenes to build the website. To develop the content MSC took government policy and translated it into every relevant activity and then got it approved by the relevant government agency.

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Speed to Market

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Not only were over 30 organisations brought together to contribute to the website but it was built and delivered within only 8 days. The project displayed a compelling and innovative approach, achieving something that did not previously exist. Kiwis didn’t have one single source of truth to access this information and they didn’t want to have to go multiple places online. This website provided an easy and clear solution.

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The website's simplicity makes it functional and easy to use. The branding has enough connection to the wider topic of COVID-19 (a very recognisable and trusted brand) whilst also connecting the dots to the outdoors and the Mountain Safety Council (another trusted brand), which means that users feel like they’re in a place where they can trust the information.

Kiwis Embracing the Project

Within the first 48 hours, 10,000 people completed over 20,000 searches for activities. Kiwis are now able to select a region and activity and get a concise answer back about whether they can participate in that activity and if there were any restrictions or further information needed to do so. It was developed on a mobile-first mentality so Kiwis can access the information anywhere, easily.

Flexible Functionality

MSC and Somar Digital built-in functionality that enabled the website to show which outdoor activities had restrictions placed on them depending on the alert level from region to region throughout New Zealand. This functionality provides very tailored and specific results for each region giving Kiwis the clarity and confidence of what they can and can’t do in the outdoors.

UX Recognised by the Best Awards

Somar Digital and MSC are over-the-moon that the COVID-19 Outdoors website was recognised as a Finalist in the User Experience (UX) category at the 2020 Best Design Awards. Held annually, the Best Awards are New Zealand's most recognised authority in good design across a wide range of mediums. Being recognised as a Finalist in the UX category means that the COVID-19 outdoors website showcases excellence in UX design.

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I think the general execution was outstanding. The website delivers great ease-of-use and functionality and to deliver the project within 8 days was an incredible achievement.

Nathan Watson, Operations Manager