Eastern State Penitentiary (ESP) was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world. It stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cell blocks and empty guard towers, and one of the most popular cultural attractions in Philadelphia. This site pays homage to ESP’s long and storied past, but also informs visitors and tourists of its ongoing programs and activities.

Tourists and potential visitors can find information quickly and easily thanks to an information architecture divided into five clear and distinct categories (Visit, Explore, Learn, Support, Shop, Contact) for targeted browsing. Visitors can book tours online, purchase merchandise, and register for events; they can also learn about the colorful history of the prison and learn about ESP’s most popular event, Terror Behind the Walls—one of the country’s most renowned haunted houses.

The penitentiary undertakes a massive marketing campaign every year to promote Terror Behind the Walls and the Web site was a major player in the campaign with a captivating multimedia experience. Site visitors were pointed to an interactive preview of the haunted house and encouraged to

• From concept to completion, it took ten people six months to build the site.

• In order to accommodate for the timing of the haunted house marketing campaign, Terror Behind the Walls was launched before the main site was completed.

• Both portions of the site run off the same database and code base. As a result, half of the site was in production while the other half was still in development. The team had to carefully control URL paths and redirects to ensure everything worked properly; they also had a version control system in place in order to prevent mistakes while the site was deployed.

• A user-generated photo gallery dynamically pulls images from Flickr and the site’s blog Tour Guide Chronicles is authored by the Penitentiary’s tour guides, giving users varied and unique behind-the-scenes views of the prison.

• The site received 732,000 visitors between late August and early December 2010.
Credits: www.bluecadet.com

Communication Arts

// From our friends at Communication Arts

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