Example of Great Alaskan Website Design (And Why)
How does this Alaskan website stack up?
As I’ve said before, Alaskan websites tend to be fairly dated. It’s easy to tell for two reasons: 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 business website stack up?
As the old saying goes, keep your friends close and your enemies closer. In this case, your main concern for your website is that it is at least on par or better than the competition.
Which is why we look at 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 week's quality website Is:
1 - Layout and design of a website (blink test)
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.
For the most part, the layout of the website is exceedingly clear and easily passes the blink test.
Here are some more specifics about the layout and design:
- Straightforward design that easily passes blink test - the design is like a "stair ladder" with each elements stacking on the one below it
- "Learn More" pages give the most necessary info: pictures, description, and price
- Clear, inuitive navigation bar
- Straightforward design makes this site perfectly responsive (responsive design) with any change in browser size
- Corresponding color usage - the blue tones of the website make the alternate colors of PEA's website act as a backdrop for highlighting the vibrant colors of their pictures, which is a nice touch.
A couple of small things that would improve the design/layout:
- The picture at the top of the page is rather large and makes viewers unable to see what is below the nav bar and text. Ideally, we should be "led" down the page.
- The current design setup could easily be upgraded to a full screen - in my opinion the design is screaming to be full screen. The major full-screen elements - namely responsiveness and the "stair ladder" layout
Overall the layout and design are well thought out and a true asset to the website.
2 - Media types and content ratio important for web design
There are a couple of things that this website does extremely well in terms of content, namely:
- The pictures on the website are beautiful - which is what you would expect from a photography touring website.
- There is also a production quality video featured on one of the pages as well.
- The various package explanations usually feature a visual map tracking the journey (very nice, unique touch!)
Never the less, media is actually the one area of the website that I thought was weakest. Both from a web designer standpoint and a photographer who is generally interested in seeing the "visual story" of PEA, I wanted much more visual content.
For example, pages feature duplicate picture content and the pictures cannot be enlarged. The video is professional quality and gives fantastic shots of wildlife, but there is only one video and doesn't give the viewer a sense of what going on a tour is like.
Thus, "informationally" the site tends to be text focused because gleaning information about the experience is found in the text. That being said, the writing is to the point, highly relevant, and leaves little room for uncertainty.
The three things that would really benefit the site would be:
- A more diverse range of images that can be viewed full screen
- A couple of more professional videos that show the guide/group's place in relation to the wildlife (i.e. show them hiking, taking photographs)
- A testimonial page that features a *picture(s)* from their trip
Overall, what I really want more of is visual content that answers the question:
If I choose this [package, tour, company] what will it look like for me to be there?
The text in place is already fantastic, simply leveraging the visual content would be a fantastic addition.
3 - Page organization critical for the clear design
For the most part, the website does a fantastic job. Moving around the site is almost flawless, they make the organization look easy.
The navigation bar is, in my opinion, literally perfect for several reasons:
- Contact information very visible
- Has a resources page with highly relevant materials
- Breaks up the main sections of the site into the most appropriate headers "About, Trip, Reservations, a Testimonials"
The only two critique I have is in regards to the "Find Your Trip" subtabs.
- Some of the "Learn More" buttons do not work properly (they don't go anywhere)
- The introduction above the "Learn More" might be better served giving less, but more immediate information - e.g. trip length, tour dates, price, several sentences of trip highlights
Remember that the average person now has an attention span of only 8 seconds...
... Thus, organizing each of the subtabs page's to display the most essential information would be extremely beneficial for the "scrollability" of the page - an increasingly important facet of modern websites.
4 - Interactivity of web design features
A rather small but extremely important addition – and a major indicator of modern vs. dated websites – is website interactivity (follow a link for examples of interactivity):
- Transitions after clicking
- Visual effects when your mouse hovers over something
- What happens with media (photos, videos) when you click on them
Interactivity is about distinguishing a user experience as being:
engaging vs. viewing.
PEA has a really nice format for displaying pictures, which is conscious of website real estate - a fancy way of saying that the pictures don't take up much space - but also give users many options for which pictures to view.
They can scroll through the slideshow, or click on any one picture in the slideshow with the thumbnail preview pictures below the displayed picture. Such a setup invites a user to click through the slideshow.
Also, the current navigation bar section that a user has clicked on changes color (from light blue to white).
Beyond this, there isn't much more interactivity - which isn't necessarily a bad thing. At a certain point, interactivity can become distracting. But adding some nice hover effects, such as-
-would add a nice touch to the website without hindering its already fantastic navigational presence.
5 - SEO, page rank, and mobile responsiveness
First, concerning search engine optimization (SEO), the site is already in perfect shape for mobile users because it is 100% responsive. This is a major point as:
- Responsiveness counts for SEO
- Mobile compatibility is important for SEO
- Almost 50% of all web traffic comes from mobile devices
In terms of the mobile aspects of the website, they are in great shape.
Their Google PageRank, which is basically an assessment of the digital credibility (i.e.not a spammy website) is 4, which is perfectly respectable.
Moreover, for several search phrases they tend to be on the 2nd or 3rd page, which is also not bad, but definitely holds the room for improvement. Their website has some quality use of certain keyword phrases, though lacks some diversity (i.e. keyword stuffing). The broken button links will also not help SEO.
Overall their SEO is definitely on a good start.
If their blog were regularly updated, their site would probably see a significant bump in SEO ranking as well as web traffic. It would also give them a great place to show off their work and give visitors a better picture of what it is like to tour with them.
Summary and overall score
- Great responsive design
- Extremely intuitive layout and navigation bar
- High-quality professional pictures
- Efficient web writing
- The mobile site is 100% responsive along with rest of site
- Reasonable Google PageRank and SEO rank
Areas to Improve
- Diversify keyword phrases
- Allow fullscreen image viewing
- Include more interactive features
- Tidy up broken links (buttons)
- Add greater quantity of media (photos, videos)
Overall Score: A-
There is a lot this website does well, and the Areas to Improve and negative aspects are really more quick fixes than "holes." They are in great position to drive quite a bit more traffic to their site (and nab more clients in the process) by starting their blog, optimizing some SEO, and touching up their website.
If you're curious about receiving a report for your website, we offer a free grading service where we analyze 20 different design and SEO components of your website. It's free, we only need your website URL and email.