SprucePeak.com is a website designed to promote and sell real estate in a developing community between Stowe ski resort and Bob Cupp Signature Golf Course, located in Stowe, Vermont. The site draws the user in with its colorful homepage and great balance of white space, images and text. SprucePeak.com uses interactive elements to help illustrate the story of this growing and up and coming community. SprucePeak.com does a very good job at relating their site to their product. They give their users a luxurious, clean, and eye catching website which correlates exactly to the type of community and experience that they are promoting within the content of the website.
I was told in school that one of the most important things in writing or designing something is to know exactly who your audience is going to be. SprucePeak.com is directing this site to users who are looking to buy real estate for a vacation home, second home or quite possibly a first home (though I do believe the first home posibility is very unlikely). It is an informational site about the community that is developing, the amenities and the possibilities available if one chooses to live there. Because it is an informational site it is important to get the information to its users effectively.
The website is setup like Style No. 5 that the Stanford Eyetracking Project discusses in its homepage design section of their report. They stated that, “Among the distinguishing features of this design are the use of a dark background color, its treatment of the lead story — usually an image with type superimposed on it — and a “multimedia magazine” look.” Determined by the studies conducted by the Stanford Eyetracking Project states that average time spent viewing a site in this style is 16.4 seconds and users have an average of 22.3 seconds of fixations on the site. This means that the site can grab the attention of the viewer but it is now up to the content to keep that attention.
On the homepage there is a body of text that is broken up into chunks which makes the content friendlier to the user like Professor Hanley stated in his lecture. The text is active and contains links however the first two chunks contain Governor Jim Douglas, Inaugural Address, January 6, 2005, which is boring and very easily skipped over. The most important information is in the last two chunks, which we know from the Stanford Eyetracking Project and Jakob Nielsen’s article, F-Shaped Pattern For Reading Web Content, will be skipped over and not read by the user. The content however on other portions of the site effectively convey the information to the users using the principles of website reading which were discussed in Jakob Nielson’s article, How Users Read on the Web. These principles of lists, bold sub-headings and one main idea per paragraph are very well executed in the Ownership Opportunities. In these pages they list the features and amenities with bullet points and have short and concise but descriptive sentences explaining the section. The text is also active and has keywords that send you to different parts of the site, which is a very effective feature for today’s user, for it allows them to travel within the site and get the information that they need.
Along with having engaging content, multimedia elements are an important feature and useful tool for website developers to us in order to connect and entertain their users. Professor Hanely said in his lecture, that these elements should work as complementary pieces and should not be redundant. The strongest component of this website is its ability to effectively use different elements to engage the user and to continue those elements through out the website to convey the website’s message.
On all of the pages there is a slide show grabs the attention of the user. It grabs the attention by being an active slide show that continually changes and reflects the topics discussed in the text located on the same page. This allows users to see what is being talked about. In addition to the slideshow there are animated graphics that animate as the users rolls over them. These graphics bring you to an additional photo galleries or a different section (Ownership Opportunities) of the site.
Another element that they use which is very effective for the content of the site is the interactive maps. These maps help show the user exactly where and what the site is talking about. In this case it shows the community, where it’s located, landmarks of the community and the available real estate. The maps are interactive and the content within the maps is crisp and concise. The information is not redundant but helps the viewer establish a visual of the community.
On the site there is also a video that accompanies the site. This video shows the viewer the aerial view along with the different views and activities that can be enjoyed in this community. It visually shows what the content states allowing the users to get a different more human view of this area. It may be considered a little redundant but I think it shows the “romantic” view of this community and gives it a human feel.
I think the multimedia elements do a very nice job at what there are intended to do. There is a bit of redundancy as you go from element to element but I understand that being redundant visually may have been the objective of the website developer especially since this site is explaining, describing and in the end, selling a community and hopefully a home.
There is a great deal of information on this site and as I explore it further I continue to find something that I may have overlooked the first time. The website is visually engaging and effectively through content and multimedia elements completes its purpose.