Search and Access Archived Conference Presentations

The 2011 ASHS Annual Conference

Establishing a Virtual Urban Landscape Water Conservation Center for New Mexico, West Texas, and Surrounding Areas

Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Kona Ballroom
Stefan Sutherin, Plant and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM
Kevin Lombard, Assistant Professor of Horticulture, NMSU Agricultural Science Center at Farmington, New Mexico State University, Farmington, NM
Rolston St. Hilaire, Plant and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM
Landscape water use accounts for 50%+ of summer domestic water use in the southwest US.  The EPA estimates that a landscape water savings of 50%+ is achievable via behavior change, specifically, wide adoption of xeriscape landscapes and education.  Web-based information for NM and west Texas, however, is scattered and industry professionals are not linked through a primary network. In 2008, NMSU and its cooperators developed a web portal to provide a clearinghouse of urban water conservation resources for homeowners and industry professionals.  The Center for Landscape Water Conservation’s ( mission is to affect significant reductions in landscape water use.  To do this, the site must generate an active and growing user base.  Four elements determine success: appropriate site structure and content, usability and efficiency of design, use of appropriate interactive features, and a methodical marketing effort.  Phase 1 developed the public, or consumer, side of the site.  Phase 2 referred to developing the private, or professional, side of the site. A group of 20 potential users was selected from academia, industry, and extension, including master gardeners to participate in user-directed development of Phase 1 by responding to regular polling on site hierarchy and format, content, usability, and interactive features of the site.  At the conclusion of Phase 1, a separate user group was tested using the modified “User-Perceived Web Quality Instrument”.  The instrument includes questions to assess design issues essential to the development of a strong user base.  The content section assesses if content is useful, complete, clear, concise, current, accurate, uses appropriate links, has easily-found contact and organizational information.  Usability questions assess use of fonts, colors, multimedia functions, page loading, search functions, attractiveness, organization, and navigation.  Interactivity questions assess ease of access and appropriateness of interactive and social media features. Phase 1 results follow: 100% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the site’s content was useful; 100% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed the site’s usability benchmarks were met (except one respondent was neutral in two responses); interactive features were rated highly with no negative responses and only two neutrals;  unsolicited feedback from various sources, including our feedback link, NMSU-linked feedback, and our webmaster link, indicated we were on-target overall; positive user and professional web developer feedback cites the practical, immediately usable nature of the content, and overall site design.  Results will aid other groups seeking to disseminate water conservation information via the internet.