Every week we take a look at a new website and analyze the design. We’ll point out both the areas that are done well in addition to those that could use some work. Finally, we’ll finish by asking you to provide your own feedback.
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About Lake Gibbs Estate
Nestled in the foolhills of the Sahayadri mountain range, the peninsular Lake Gibbs Estate offers a perfect spot for your second home. Covered in lush green forests, surrounded by the waters of Thokarwadi Dam that merge and mingle with Andhra lake, Shirawata lake and Valvhan lake; Lake gibbs offers a unique opportunity to disconnect from your everyday and reconnect with yourself. Far enough from any urban area, but within 30 minutes driving distance from Malavli, Bhivpuri Road and Paladari stations; Lake Gibbs is the perfect getaway for the weekend or even the alternate year.
Here is a screenshot of the homepage:
The Lake Gibbs Estate website is very simple. There’s only a single page with a large slideshow and some very brief descriptions. Consequently, this will be a fairly brief critique!
My first impression of this page is quite positive. It’s very sleek and attractive, the fullscreen photos of beautiful scenery really grab your attention. For the most part, I think the designer has done a great job of creating something that’s both basic and interesting. Each piece of the design merits a comment so let’s take a closer look.
As I just mentioned, the slideshow is the real show stopper here. In fact, the site is the slideshow, there’s little else. I’m always a bit proponent of leveraging great photography in design. A good photo can be more effective than hours of “from scratch” Photoshop work in grabbing the user’s attention and communicating an aesthetic feel. It might feel like you’re taking the easy way out by reducing a design to fullscreen photos, and maybe you are, but it’s hard to resist the idea of less work leading to a possibly more attractive finished product!
One place where photography heavy design works quite well is with product shots. When you’re selling a beautiful product, bullet points are great, but the image of the product should be the real hero. You see this at work in design from Apple, Dyson and many other premium product manufacturers. Here the same principal applies, the interesting part is that the landscape is the product (they’re selling plots). This works out fantastically because there’s almost nothing more attractive than lush greenery and a colorful sky on the bank of an expansive river.
When you have a photography heavy design like this one, typography becomes one of the most important decisions that you will make as a designer. You are tasked with choosing something that complements the imagery. It should be attractive and match the mood of the visuals without trying to steal the show.
A quick press of my WhatFont bookmarklet reveals that the modern, condensed typeface used on this site is a free font called Steelfish. I think the font is perfect for this project and I like how, despite only having one variation of the typeface, the designer was able to help certain aspects of the design stand out through the use of all caps.
The type would definitely not stand out against the photos so a simple and effective design trick was used: a reduced opacity black overlay. This frames the site nicely and highlights the important information while not detracting too much from the primary visuals.
One problem that I have with the typography is the word spacing, specifically on the “Lake Gibbs Estate” text. The space between words relative to the space between the letters seems way off. This is unfortunately the single most frequent problem that I run into with free fonts, few really seem to pull off word spacing as well as premium fonts.
On the surface, it appears that there isn’t anything else to the page but the slideshow and the name of the site. However, upon further inspection, it turns out that there is more. At the bottom of the page, you find a black bar with captions for each of the images in the slideshow:
Hovering over this bar expands an “About” and “Contact” section from the bottom of the page in a nice, fluid animation.
I like the way this area looks, but I’m definitely not a huge fan of the functionality. The problem is inherent in my previous comment, this section is fairly hidden. There’s no indication anywhere on the page that it exists, it’s only when you start randomly placing your mouse over various areas that you discover its presence.
I definitely recommend adding some ever present visual indicator. Perhaps a little tab that sticks up from the bottom bar that says “Learn More.” There are a million possible solutions, several of which will work just fine, the important part is to use something (anything) to help the user realize how to get to this important information.
To sum up, here’s a quick checklist of my thoughts on the design.
- Simple, clean design that serves its purpose well.
- Slideshow: Gorgeous fullscreen images really grab the user’s attention.
- Font: It’s clean, modern and attractive. It’s also not used on the smaller body text, which is a good call as it’s clearly a headline font.
- The word spacing on Lake Gibbs Estate. I like the font but if you can’t fix this eyesore, it might be better to find something new.
- The hidden footer. It’s not apparent that this exists until you accidentally find it. Think of a way to highlight this content better.
Now that you’ve read my comments, pitch in and help out by giving the designer some further advice. Let us know what you think is great about the design and what you think could be stronger. As always, we ask that you also be respectful of the site’s designer and offer clear constructive advice void of any harsh insults.