A few years ago when technology necessitated that website design migrate from those captivating flash-based websites to more search- and mobile-friendly protocols (e.g., WordPress) it seemed like a lot of the “magic” was suddenly lost from those multimedia, animated flash sites. Customers were asking “With these new standards, can you really do anything unique and fresh now?”
Last week, when White Stone Marketing launched the site for The Inn at Hermannhof, we thought: the magic is back. We think it is one of the freshest and most exhilarating sites we’ve seen in a long time.
How do we love this site? Let us count the ways:
- The Innkeepers made a substantial investment in photography, and it shows. Have you ever seen such a photo-rich site? Instead of a plain vanilla background, there are dozens of lush, larger-than-life background images that constantly–yet subtly–tell the story of this unique property.
- Check out this site on a mobile device–it translates beautifully! From a pure design perspective, it is not easy to design a site that is just as elegant and informative on a tiny iPhone screen as a 27″ monitor. Kudos to the design team at White Stone Marketing.
- Notice the way the info box (the content box in the middle of the screen) interacts with background image and the way you can scroll down for information, yet the beautiful background photo remains static. Pretty brilliant. They say that no one reads website copy anymore; if that’s true, this might be the perfect website. White Stone has made visiting the website an experience in itself.
- The Inn at Hermannhof is a spectacular and multi-faceted property…and REALLY COMPLICATED to depict if you have not been there. The property is comprised of several buildings–some in town, some on a hillside above town, winding down to a stream and a “Hoffgarten” (a German-style outdoor-indoor event area) beyond. A tasting room for their on-site winery, various wine cellars, a restaurant, a gourmet deli and a massive banquet hall are all part of the Hermannhof compound. The site does an excellent job of telling the story without complicating it–no small feat. Scott and Allison were on location with us for the photo shoot and we all spent more than one night over wine with Innkeeper/Owner JiaMin discussing the intrinsic difficulties in communicating such a multi-faceted business. I guess all that head-scratching paid off.
We have photographed over 150 inns over the last seven years, and although it is a business, we take the creative aspect of our work very seriously and devote ourselves to creating photos that “sing”. When the camera is packed away, it’s difficult to hand images over to a design team and wonder whether the photos will be used to their full potential. It could be a matter of photos being used too small, or being cropped in a way that destroys the impact of the shot. This does not happen with White Stone and that is one reason why their sites are so captivating. They respect the crafting of the image, and know how to use photography to its full potential. They release the power of the picture. We are so grateful for that.
This project could not have been a success without a dynamic, supportive working partnership between photographer and website designer. In this process, feedback and suggestions go back and forth, and no one is afraid to step on one another’s toes. Egos are sent packing and we constantly push each other to create better pictures and ultimately a beautiful, effective website.