Graduate-level course identifies modifications to update Apache Junction’s tourism website.

By researching and evaluating user experience, ASU graduate students helped the City determine site upgrades.

Author

Devin R. Larsen

Contributors

Steve Russell, Marshall Curry

Metrics

Community
Apache Junction, Arizona, USA
Community Size
41,739 (2018 Census Estimation)
University
Arizona State University
Program
Project Cities
Years
2017/2018
Status
Completed
Case Type
Individual Project
School Size
Greater than 40,000
Focus Areas
Economic and Social Inclusion
Discipline
Art, Design, Marketing
Region
EPA Region 9, USA
Community Partner Department
Community Relations
Policy
Community Engagement, Place Making, Tourism, Website
University Department Code
Communication
Sustainable Development Goals
Decent Work and Economic Growth
Community Population Sizes
41739 (2018 Census Estimation)
Population Type
Business Owners and Consumers

While retail businesses maintain well-constructed websites using best practices in an ever-evolving field, many American cities might not have the capacity to develop the webpage functionality they desire. This is even more important for cities that rely on tourism revenue.

As travelers spend more time online researching potential destinations, it is increasingly important for cities to portray their community favorably online—a poorly constructed website might lead a traveler to ignore the potential a city has to offer. 

Apache Junction, rich with natural resources and assets bordering Phoenix, created the “Positively Apache Junction” marketing campaign to improve the image of its city. One facet of the campaign was to attract tourists with their website, but they were unsure if it was successful at doing so. 

FOUR... ...website prototype designs created!

A quick assessment of their website revealed to Apache Junction that it lacked the information travelers often search for when researching cities. Additionally, the site is difficult to navigate, making it likelier for online users to be driven away. Ultimately, this could discourage tourism to their city.

To reinvigorate their website and increase tourism, Apache Junction invited a graduate course from Arizona State University’s Project Cities, a member of the EPIC-Network, that could evaluate the user experience of their website and provide recommendations for how to make the site more useful, attractive, and easy to navigate. 

University Capital

Classes 1 Classes
Students 12 Students
Hours 1,728 Hours
Disciplines 1 Disciplines
Projects 1 Projects
Faculty Members 1 Faculty Members
Previous
Next

The ASU students examined Apache Junction’s visitor website, assessing its content and organization while comparing it to similar websites. With the help of expert faculty member, Tatiana Batova, students also collected qualitative data to understand how users engaged—or were frustrated by—the Apache Junction website. Students used what they learned to build Apache Junction prototypes to illustrate what improvements could be made.

Increasing engagement with Apache Junction’s website

By employing human-centered research to evaluate user experience with Apache Junction’s website, the participating ASU graduate-level class was able to evaluate site usability. With their extensive research complete, students were able to recommended multiple strategies which, when implemented, could improve engagement and user experience with the Apache Junction visitor website. 

Primary recommendations revolved around updating and maintaining the website, some of which included: 

  • Improving site engagement – Maintaining upkeep of the website for a perception of reliability, from removing dead hyperlinks to improving its Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
  • Making the site more appealing – Adding interesting and informative content that is relevant to visitors so they will engage with the site further.
  • Upgrading user experience – Improving the navigation of the website so users can more readily find relateable, enlightening information about the city.

Community Results

Community Satisfaction

“The city of Apache Junction was extremely fortunate to be the inaugural city for the Project Cities program. The city, community residents, ASU students, faculty and staff worked on a total of nine different projects.”

Return on Investment

"All of the projects and studies paid high dividends to the community."

Prestige & Recognition

Covered in The State Press and The Apache Junction/Gold Canyon News.

Social/Cultural Inclusion

"You know 5 or 6 students looking at the same issue from five different perspectives, really helped us a lot."

Governance

"The City of Apache Junction was extremely fortunate to be the inaugural city for the Project Cities program."

Previous
Next

By analyzing Apache Junction’s website, students generated strategies intended to improve the visitor website’s content, navigation, and user engagement.

Arizona State University Project Cities Contact
Steve Russell
Program Manager
(480) 727-2698
steven.russell@asu.edu

Evan Jordan
Assistant Professor
School of Community Resources and Development
Evan.Jordan@asu.edu

Tatiana Batova
Assistant Professor
College of Integrative Sciences and Arts
tbatova@asu.edu

City of Apache Junction Contact
Larry Kirch
Director
Development Services
lkirch@ajcity.net
480-474-5082

Al Bravo
Public Information Officer
Community Relations
abravo@ajcity.net
480-474-5080

Read the full story of the partnership.

Read the final student report delivered to the local gov/community partner.

This part of the project was completed as part of a collaborative effort between four classes over two semesters. To see the other projects visit the pages linked below:

"You know 5 or 6 students looking at the same issue from five different perspectives, really helped us a lot."