Plants Map Redesign Coming June 9, 2015

PlantsMap_CollageWe are launching a redesigned Plants Map website on June 9. The current site will be down for a few hours while we make the transition. We estimate that this will happen between 1 a.m. EST and 5 a.m. EST on Tuesday, June 9. All of your plants, photos, gardens, collections, and organizations will be migrated to the new website. Your usernames and passwords will continue to work on the new site.

Plants Map has been redeveloped from the ground up. We’ve written a very long post here to explain what you will find once we switch to the new platform.

One of our top goals with this development project was to make the site easier to use across all devices, from your computer, your tablet or your smartphone.

There are features on our current website that will be “turned on” in stages over the next couple of weeks. We will point those out below. I mention this so you don’t think that some of your content has disappeared if you don’t see it on Tuesday morning. We have saved and backed up all of the content from every user. As we go through the steps of relaunching the site, all of the existing features and content will return to your pages.

Maps will not be fully functioning at launch. The locations of your organization and your profile, if you added that information, will be visible at launch, but your collections, subcollections and plants will be added as layers to the maps as we go through the migration process. We wanted to say this so you knew they didn’t get lost and simply disappear. If you added location information, we have that stored and the pins on the map will be added in the next cycle of the migration.

The second piece that will be missing initially when we migrate to the new platform are any photos that were in the slideshow gallery for a collection. We have all of those photos and we know where they are supposed to appear on the new site but we have made significant changes to how collections operate so we will turn on the gallery for collections after the initial migration is complete. We expect this should be within a week, but it could be sooner.

Ok, on with the new design elements and features!

The main navigation menu will change to Home, Explore, Map and My Plants Map.

Explore – The Explore page will display to all visitors the most recent content added and updated across the site. As with our current site, the Explore section is where you can search and discover plants and collections to like and members of the community to follow.

Map – The Map page will display to all visitors content that has location information and we will visually represent this on a map. You will be able to search and discover plants, collections and profiles by interacting with the map.

Home – Once you sign in, the Home page is where you will see curated content based on the follows and network connections you make with other users on Plants Map. The ability to make network connections will be live but the abilty to follow other users will launch in the next week or two. For now this section will show content from your profile and any organizations you administer and those you have connected with through their page.

My Plants Map – This new section appears exclusively for users of Plants Map that create a sign in. The My Plants Map page was built to be your working library where you can find your content for managing your plants and collections.

Elements of the Home and Explore pages will have News, Plants, Collections, & Community sections.

These sections will show recent updates from the community such as added or updated plants, collections, photos, and profiles. We are working on enhancing the News section to also allow posts and include links to other websites. We are launching the ability to add comments to posts soon.

Sign In – Finally! Profiles for individuals and organizations can now be managed from your personal sign-in with one email. Similar to other social networks you will first create an individual profile and then create a profile for the organization you want to add. From the profile drop-down at the top, you can now toggle between acting as your individual profile or as one of the organizations that you administer. This new feature lets anyone who manages an organization or business to also have their own personal profile with their personal plants and collections and keep the content for each of those profiles separate. We’ve waited a long time for this feature!

Our Social Features: Like, Follow, Favorite, Network

The ability to Like plants will be live at launch. This feature is simply a way to acknowledge content posted by others that you enjoy. It does not connect you in any way to that profile, plant or collection.

The ability to Follow other profiles will be coming in the next couple of weeks. As you follow other profiles, the Home content will be automatically customized based on those you follow.

The ability to Favorite plants and collections posted by others will be coming soon. This will allow a user to create their own list of favorites and create collections such as a wish list or virtual garden.

The ability to Network with an organization will be live at launch. There are many ways this feature can be used by organization an organization. An individual user can request to connect with your organization based on some affiliation such as a volunteer, team member, staff, membership, donor or whatever terms the organization wants to set. If you are a team member for an organization assisting with the profile you can be networked with that organization and given permissions to contribute content to that organization or to become an administrator for that organization and its content.

Newly Designed for Profiles Pages for Individuals and Organizations

Elements of both types of profile pages will include a profile photo, a bio or about section. Your News section will only show your updates and likewise, Plants, Collections, and Network will show your content and your network. You will also be able to see your followers with links to their profiles. Your profile page is your public facing landing page on Plants Map for visitors and the community to get to know your growing interests, activities and discover plant collections.

The Organization pages will have the networking feature with buttons to administer the network request from other users.

Collections and Subcollections

We find people like to organize their plants and collections in many different ways. We’ve redesigned collections so that they now works for how you want to manage or document your plants.

One plant can be placed it in multiple collections. For example, you might have one Rosemary plant that you have in three collections: My Perennials, My Herbs, My Edible Garden.

Collections can now contain subcollections. In the old site, we did this, but we called them Gardens and Collections. Now we’ve settled on calling them all collections and you can name them for a garden, botanical garden, a trail, a cemetery, a park, edible walkway, greenway, whatever fits your collection of plants.

Any gardens you may have already created will transition to a collection. As we mentioned above, please note that at launch, your photo gallery for collections will be turned off. Don’t worry, we have your images for your collections saved and we will turn the gallery feature on shortly after migration.

All New Plant Profile Pages

The main elements of a plant page at the top are Title, Story, Location. As before the only field required is a title.

The Plant form now has separate tabs for Plant Details, Notes, Photos, Growing Details, and Collections.

The Plants Details tab includes information specific to your plant the date planted, quantity, reference links, etc. It also includes fields for the botanical name, common name and other classification information.

The Notes tab will allow you to make dated notes and reminders on a specific plant page. You can make these notes public or keep them private.

The Photos tab is where you can keep a gallery of photos with captions for your plant. With the click of a button, you can choose a new cover photo for your plant by choosing one from the gallery. The process to add a photo has been greatly improved. You’ll have to see this to appreciate how much better this feature really is!

The Growing Details tab is new and it holds the fielded data for basic growing information such as the average size, sun preference, etc.

The Collections Tab shows where this plant is documented by collections and subcollections. You can manage the collections your plant is in from this tab.

Why so many fields for a plant? Fielded data allows for better search results and management of your plants. We want to allow for someone to be able to search for and find a perennial with white flowers hardy to USDA Zone 5. Fielded data will also allow you to search and sort your own plants by these specific fields as well.

And this is all free?  Yes, these profiles are for users to document, manage or showcase their plant collections.

We are building additional tools that will be available for a monthly fee for those who have more extensive needs for data collection and storage or for managing larger plant collections. Here are some of the products in the works: Retail Manager (sell garden-related products, e-commerce), Tree Manager (forestry & urban forestry), Landscape Manager (for landscaping companies), Plant Manager (for people into Roses, Irises, Daylily or Hostas, etc.), Trail Manager (self-guided eco-tourism), and premium profiles that will be listed within a Resource section showcasing product lines and services.

Thank you for reading this very long email! We know that for those of you who have been very active on our site and have added a lot of plants that you thought many times, if this were done this way it would be so much easier… well, we think you will like the new site a lot and can’t wait for your feedback.

For everyone else who has been waiting and watching Plants Map over the past year, we can’t wait for you to dive in and tell the story your plants and collections and add your garden photos to the new site!