What: Western Monarch Count Website
How: Web Design, Wordpress CMS Development, Google Maps API & Fusion Tables, PHP, HTML, CSS
Made for: The Xerces Society
Tags: , , ,
Made in: 2014


The Xerces Society wanted to create a resource center for volunteer participants in the annual Western Monarch Count (a citizen scientist effort that monitors monarch butterfly populations at overwintering sites throughout California). At the time, volunteers submitted paper data sheets through the mail or as scans and had to contact the staff coordinator to find out which sites were near their homes and then sign up to monitor. Information on the Count was not readily available.

The new website needed to solve these problems, and improve user experience, by:

  1. Collecting all of the Western Monarch Counter resources in one easy-to-navigate center that would encourage people to participate and make the process easy.
  2. Creating a searchable map that would display site boundaries and data, including whether or not a site had been “adopted” by a volunteer”. Staff needed to be able to easily update the overwintering site data on the map, too.
  3. Create a map that would easily allow volunteers to find their regional coordinator.
  4. Using online forms to allow users to sign up to monitor overwintering sites.
  5. Allowing staff to post events and announcements to the site to keep visitors updated on the Count’s progress.
  6. Building out a custom WordPress backend that would allow staff with limited knowledge of code to update all relevant site content.
  7. Being accessible on tablets and phones so that volunteers could access information while at overwintering sites.


To address these issues, I created a design, a website, and a custom WordPress backend that:

  • Is fully responsive.
  • Logically groups information in an appropriate hierarchy.
  • Uses Google Maps API and Google Fusion Tables to import a KML layer (geographic data) to the overwintering sites map. This system allows staff to easily update both the KML data and the other data associated with the site from within Google Docs. Users can find sites near their house using a geocoder.
  • Allows users to sign up through an online form and notifies staff upon submission.
  • Uses custom fields and post types to make content throughout the site accessible to staff, and a comprehensive style guide to ensure consistency throughout.

Some site features have not been released.

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