The project

Toowoomba is Queensland’s garden city, but its website was a digital desert.
Dry.
Uninspiring.

And so hard to navigate that the locals couldn’t figure out where to pay their bills or find out when to put out the recycling. It didn’t have much functionality either. Here was a chance to create something better, something more fitting. A beautiful website for a beautiful place, with user needs front and center.

Results

Multi-award winning

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Vertically and horizontally responsive

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Happy users - positive feedback

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The design

Rich Traditions. Bold Ambitions. The council’s new slogan perfectly describes our approach to the design.

With a vibrant palette and a unique look, the design presents as modern and forward looking, while Toowoomba’s heritage is honoured in silhouettes representing each different part of the region. The silhouettes sit across the responsive site, on every device and platform, and in any proportion. We were thrilled when Council chose this very contemporary design over our more conservative alternative.

image of Toowoomba new design

The Solution

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First, we got the basics sorted. We put the important stuff up front. News and events greet users on the home page.

A mega menu with the most-used topics follows users as they click and scroll through the site. The content is streamlined and housed logically. Then we got some great functionality happening.

Our Joomla junkies created their own extensions for a unique park locator so that Toowoombans can find a local park that suits them. If they need somewhere with a barbeque, a basketball ring and a boating area, the site pinpoints the exact location.

We also tricked up the search function so it returns results not just from the TRC site, but also from a curated list of external sites, and orders them according to assigned priorities.

Finally, we wrote ourselves out of the picture. We made it easy for the Toowoomba team to manage the whole thing once we handed it over.

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Tech talk

The park locator function comes from a Joomla extension that we’ve customised in-house.

First, we’re working on Google Maps, specifying the longitude and latitude and using an API to get the two parts of the whole talking to each other. But that’s just for the front end. For the back end, we customised elements from the Joomla FOF library, meaning we could do something niftier at a lower cost than if we’d started from scratch.

The park locator may be the first thing users see, but we’re just as proud of the getting the search function working fast and accurately. Using the Sphinx on a MySQL protocol, we’re getting good speeds despite a complicated search algorithm.

And Sphinx also means relevant results: the configuration file we built means Sphinx is interrogating the data in just the way we want it to.

Locate your place on the map

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