Great Example of Quality Alaska Website Design - With Analysis
As I’ve said before, Alaska web design tends to be fairly dated. It’s easy to tell for two reason: the way they look, and the style of coding that is used. The whole reason you would even want to read this post is to ask yourself the following question:
How does my Alaskan website design compare?
Which is why we like to point out Alaskan websites with quality design, and analyze the five main elements of every good website. The analysis will move top down – i.e. from initial impression and orientation to a deeper look into the website. This analysis will cover the website for Larsen Bay Lodge.
The basic premise for any website’s layout is that a user should be able to orient themselves on your website before they blink – which is about 3 seconds.
The layout of Larsen Bay Lodge is very simple, and easily passes the blink test.
It essentially has four parts: background (image), navigation bar, content area, and side bar. Though the design is rather simple, it’s not necessarily a bad thing because Larsen offers many services: they have about 30 main pages, and the simple layout makes navigation very easy. Trying to get too crafty with design for large, informational websites can actually make it much harder to navigate. Concerning the actual design (font, colors, and space) the website does seem a tad dated for the following reasons:
Overall, the design and layout are acceptable, and do the job well on a functional level.
- The colors are not complimentary (which is a major focus of modern websites)
- The background picture fades into a dark blue, when a more modern practice would be to have the photo be a static (doesn’t scroll) background, parallax effect, etc.
- The body (nav bar, content area, side bar) of the page doesn’t change at all to adjust, spatially to browser size
Media Types and Content Ratio
This is an area that Larsen Bay Lodge does very well, and are definitely ahead of the curve of many Alaska website designs. Their prolific use of professionally produced videos, with slow motion sequences and groovy music, isn’t something I have seen out of an Alaskan lodge yet. Just about every page features a video, including the all-important video of *inside* the cabins.
It’s a wonderful digital marketing strategy for Alaskan lodges that gives users a sense of an exciting adventure. Beyond this are also a good number of pictures that convey a ripe sense of wildlife and the remoteness of the cabins. One thing that would benefit the site is to have more pictures (professionally done) of the cabins, that convey the sense of the cabin’s style, such as at this lodge's cabin page. It would help give a better balance to the text/media ratio, which is bit text heavy. Also, some videos (such as on the lodge page) have some broken functionality.
But overall, they are ahead of the curve.
This is an area – and perhaps the most important one – where the Larsen Bay Lodge website really shines, and what initially sparked my desire to do a post about them. Users will have zero trouble to immediately find any type of information. Things like:
Are all found in clear, intuitive places. Navigating their website is liking moving around in your own kitchen.
- What to expect
- Information about which services they offer
A rather small but extremely important addition – and a major indicator of modern vs. dated websites – is interactivity. Things like:
Fortunately, this is another area where their website does well. Videos change opacity when hovered over, and expand into a nice full screen that is easy to leave simply by clicking outside the video window. Slideshows pictures fade into the next photo and users have control over going forward and backward. Navigation bar elements change color when hovered over.
- Transitions after clicking
- Color or transparency effects when your mouse hovers over something
- What happens with media (photos, videos) when you click on it
The only thing that could improve the current content would be to have an option of full screen viewing of pictures. Other than that, another great job.
SEO, Page Rank, and Mobile
First, concerning search engine optimization (SEO) this site does a good job of sprinkling relevant keywords throughout their site, however there is room for improvement. In terms of ranking for important keyword phrases, like “Alaskan lodge” and similar searches, their page is NOT ranked on google, which means users who search with similar keywords will not find their lodge. Secondly, some things could use SEO optimization, such as adding relevant “alt” text to images so that they rank in google images.
On a very good note, the site does have a mobile version of the website, which when accessed by a cell phone, proves to be just as effective and easy to use as the regular site. Considering 67% of people book travel plans on mobile devices, this is a nice addition.
One thing this website has not done is optimized for responsiveness - which will affect the mobile optimization of a couple types of mobile devices. Also, because Google's SEO algortithm now takes into account responsiveness, the lack of responsiveness will hurt SEO.
Summary and Overall Score
The Larsen Bay Lodge is a good example of what a quality Alaska website for lodges looks like.
Areas to Improve
- Top notch navigation
- Videos are fantastic example of digital marketing
- Good interactivity
- Effective layout for orientation
- Great mobile site
- Could use a design update to make color scheme and responsiveness more modern
- Some more pictures to mix in with the text, and ability to view them full screen, would be a nice visual and functional addition to the website
Overall Score: B+ - The website does most of the important things very well, and though there are a few areas that could very quickly make this a flawless site. Well done Larsen Bay Lodge.
- Search engine optimization is needed on this site. Websites need, because of user behavior and positive SEO, to be naturally functional on mobile devices. Their website should be listed in google for major keywords.