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Launched: New website for Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank

Posted Tuesday, August 16, 2022
— Land Trusts, Website Launch

Since 1986, Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank has conserved and stewarded land throughout the island’s six towns. The land bank is a governmental body with an innovative funding approach: a surcharge on real estate transactions. Over the years, the land bank has successfully reversed a trend that was converting the island into private enclaves and developments. 

When the land bank’s longtime website editor retired, Ecopixel was selected to redesign the island conservation organization’s website and bring it up to modern standards. The original site was built with hand-coded HTML and had to be edited with Adobe’s long-discontinued Contribute software. Editors could inadvertently break the layout on various pages, and content management was a chore. 

The dynamic new site, powered by the modern and reliable TYPO3 CMS platform, provides an easy-to-edit structure for content editors. TYPO3 is web-based, so editors don’t need to install any special software on their computers, just a web browser. Ecopixel upgrades and manages the platform so it is always up-to-date and secure, and our prompt support is there whenever staff need it. 

An important goal for the land bank’s website is to provide detailed public access and policy information to visitors of the land bank’s 80+ conserved properties. Ecopixel created a custom layout for the property pages to make it easy for content editors to input attributes like public access categories, history, dog policies, hunting policies, and trail maps. Ecopixel migrated and restructured all of this information from the old website. 

Online maps help the public find the right land bank property for their recreational activity. Ecopixel developed 25 interactive maps around each of the land use categories, like fishing, bicycling, swimming, and dog walking. The maps are powered by Ecopixel’s ArcGIS map integration that blends website-hosted photos and locations with data hosted in ArcGIS. Ecopixel collaborated with a local cartographer who developed a beautiful custom basemap with dynamic trail layers. Ecopixel also designed the map colors and icons to match the website design and achieve better accessibility than typical maps. 

Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was a major goal for the new website. The old website had many scanned PDFs and other issues that posed substantial barriers to website visitors with disabilities. Ecopixel applied its accessibility experience to develop and test accessible website templates and navigation. We also reimplemented many of the PDFs as web pages, which are highly accessible and easier for staff to update. Now, information about the land bank and its conserved lands is accessible to many more of the island’s residents and visitors. 

The old site did not have an organized place for news bulletins. Free-form notices were written on the home page, with no date or archiving capability. Ecopixel solved this issue with a built-in news system that keeps articles organized by date. Older articles are now automatically archived off the home page. 

We are so pleased to have guided the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank through this transition to a modern, mobile-friendly and accessible website!