layworks is a California-based national nonprofit organization that helps schools and youth programs ensure opportunities for safe, fun, and healthy play for children. By helping all children stay active and build valuable social and emotional skills, Playworks has established their position in supporting a culture of play for youth. WDG partnered with Playworks to bolster a new targeted marketing campaign through a refreshed site structure and aesthetic, as well as a more intuitive content management system.

Project Mission

To increase conversions on their national and regional site pages in conjunction with a “Recess Lab” national marketing campaign, Playworks sought an improved site structure and refreshed aesthetic.

What We Did

WDG helped Playworks successfully migrate from Drupal to WordPress in order to better organize, filter, and manage content across the national and regional multisite. With a powerful resource center and interactive map, we gave Playworks a stronger presence on the national stage.

Capitalizing on a Targeted Campaign with WordPress

Playworks needed to simultaneously launch RecessLab.org, a national campaign focused on safe and healthy play. A refreshed digital experience was needed to capitalize on the campaign momentum for increased conversions. WDG began the engagement by making an informed recommendation to migrate from Drupal to WordPress as the content management system. With better flexibility and customization capabilities, we knew WordPress would account for an improved systems architecture and future content needs.

Accounting for Content Flexibility

The wide variety of content types created a complex site structure that needed to maintain consistency across pages while differentiating between national and targeted regional views. The restructured content types were segmented into different verticals, including Staff, Games, Stories, Regional level content, and more. By using flexible layouts, our team ensured that content could also be used and reordered to function on both the national and regional levels. Lastly, WordPress flexible layouts allow for better long term maintenance, easier migrations, and administrative assembly of specific pages.

An Interactive Map Experience with Salesforce

A custom-built interactive map ensured better search functionalities for regional content. The map leverages Playworks’ branding by highlighting individual states through Salesforce integrations used to synchronize the transfer of information between the multisite. With future integrations in mind, we built for the eventuality of dynamically reading Salesforce reports in order to populate information, particularly for the state-level content. For example, the display dynamically highlights the specific number of constituents served by Playworks in each state. We also leveraged geolocation to capture IP addresses and provide location-based content under the “Playworks Near You” navigation header. By hosting on Pantheon, we were able to easily integrate these features.

Flexible Resource Center Capabilities

The Games Library resource center was designed specifically to increase user engagement. A robust search was used to filter games and other resources with faceted search features, including equipment type, number of participants, duration, type, skill development, and more. The resource center could also be flexibly manipulated to assemble curated collections for administrators, such as organizing games by time of year, type of game, skill goals, or other content groupings.

Navigating Complex Data Set Requirements

Complex data sharing requirements between the multisite included unique regional pages connected via WordPress. Using this feature, administrative teams could leverage a singular WordPress installation with one common set of themes and plugins, which permitted pages to share both the core and key information while still maintaining their own data set. This allows Playworks staff to employ a single user account for both the national and regional sites, and grants them the ability to have a separate blog for each of the 19 regions.

Creating Custom Integrations

The multisite structure creates allows Playworks regional administrators to include information from the national site, as well as display regional content on the national level pages. We integrated Apache Solr search to efficiently retrieve information across sites for ease of development. The custom AJAX facet news search allows users to also drill down by category and other filters for easier search functionality.

Completing Multiple Complex Data Migrations

In transitioning from Drupal to WordPress, we migrated several thousand pieces of content and files. Our development team employed a proprietary migration script that runs with WP-CLI to accomplish this without the migration timing out. We also built custom logic into the migration to ensure content was not skipped or duplicated to the multisite, and split single Drupal content into multiple WordPress custom post types. Our team also facilitated three separate migrations: one at the initial development stage of the project, one completed before a key stakeholder session, and one immediately prior to launch. Together, these multiple migrations ensure the staging environment is always up to date with the latest content from the live site to avoid cross posting and ensure minimal restricted time off site for the Playworks’ content team.


WDG designed the Playworks site to be mobile accessible for on-the-go users. With a mobile responsive design optimized for all three breakpoints of mobile, tablet, and desktop, we ensured a consistent, seamless user experience in accessing both national and regional content. Now, Playworks users can find strategies for safe and healthy play on any device.

Custom Careers Pages

For the Playworks Careers pages, we created a custom integration with the Greenhouse API to fit the data structure needs of Playworks. The Greenhouse API is an applicant tracking system and recruiting software which works to optimize the recruiting process through data-driven hiring practices. The Staff Careers and Americorps Careers pages use a filtered search to navigate users towards targeted opportunities based on job type and location. We also used the Greenhouse API to enable the internship listing to encourage targeted recruiting efforts for Playworks.

playworks careers

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