Branthaven Homes — Consumer Website and Online Sales Facility
(Update: Branthaven.com has won HHHBA award for best builder website)
Branthaven Homes, located in Burlington Ontario Canada, is one of Canada’s most successful and respected home builders with easily one of the most recognized independant consumer brands in the Southern Ontario market place.
Branthaven asked Insite to design build the best home builder website in the industry — a simple request by a home builder that is quickly establishing themselves as the gold standard in quality and relevance to the consumer.
The new Branthaven website was designed and developed with a number of goals in mind:
+ communicate the exciting ideas and meaningful products that Branthaven offers its customers; leveraging the emotive imagery, style leadership, design legacy and forward thinking plans and appropriateness of product — CONTEXTUAL BRAND
+ connect consumers with the brand in a manner that is more interactive; leveraging emerging technologies that allow consumers to engage in brand relationships, subscribe to and share product ideas and generally participate in the brand culture — COMMUNICATIVE
+ begin to establish that Branthaven is a lifestyle, not just a home — LIFESTYLE ORIENTED
+ provide potential new customers with of the moment information to assist in their home buying decisions — RELEVANT & INFORMATIVE
+ establish a visible home for Branthaven that blurs the line between virtual and brick and mortar — ACCESSIBLE
+ assert that Branthaven is a natural fit in the lives of its customers by being a fit online; easily navigated, at the ready and relevant information that is highly interactive, share-able and integrate-able into consumers high tech lives means Branthaven thinks about them and is smart — A FIT
The end result achieved Branthaven’s goals by the design of a magazine style offering that emphasizes images instead of text, and relational content linking instead of navigating sub pages. An interactive graphic style top menu brings deep content to the surface, making mass amounts of content readily accessible and easy to understand in a visually appealing way.
Content was developed to engage the viewer in a lifestyle context rather than as a typical product presentation, adding an entertainment aspect to the experience that parallels Branthaven’s physical product approaches such as the retail design centre they have for customers and the award winning and highly experiential sales & model facilities that grace every new community they build.
Website sections were developed to not just mirror the physical departments of the company but to extend the services, going as far as to create an outlet for staff designers or service teams to share tips and trends as well as engage the customer culture in interest articles specific to their homes.
A large focus for the site was on 3 main concepts; content management, ease of navigation, and interconnectivity between the site and emerging technologies both social and mobile.
The site utilizes a highly content manageable backbone that will provide technically novice content editors or writers the ability to script and edit the website like a monthly magazine, flushing out much of its content by theme or season relevant to consumer buying periods or trends. The marketing team, along with the content manager, can script or “program” the site much in the manner a magazine operates, preplanning and staging articles and features, styling images and communications while timing the launch of this content with new product releases and communities.
The key to the content management was to deliver a cost effective solution that would be manageable and as such foster a culture of constant online change accompanied with financially responsible, predictable and manageable associated costs.
In a navigation perspective, the site utilizes a genre of navigation that allows users to intuitively navigate and locate relevant information in an enjoyable manner. The architecture of the site was conceived and planned to be “flat”, meaning the focus was to avoid sub sections or deep confusing tunnels into content. Rather, the site is mostly limited to just a single layer of inner pages with fulfilled ideas being on the single page, encouraging the user to scroll to become more deeply engaged — delivering overview content at the top with increasingly detailed depth the further one scrolls down a page.
Idea linking is widely used where if a concept isn’t fully realized on a page, the reader is invited to click a link for more — more relevant or relational information associated with the content they are viewing or similarly an extension to the original idea.
Lastly, connectivity was critical. The site uses programming and architecture of content that allows useful “share-ability”; linking and subscriptions that leverage the quickly adopted standards of content use among consumers. Content within the site is based on “blog” posts or articles, each with their own “Feed” and index-able addressing. This allows users to subscribe to the flow of information in the site in such a way that they can read about new information in just about any social media application, mobile device or browser based social media aggregation application such as Google Reader or FlipBook based apps.
The manner by which consumers are viewing website content these days is changing rapidly. Consumers are engaging in applications that allow them to create their own interest magazines or subscription hubs and the Branthaven site will allow them to include its content within their magazine lifestyle.
In summary, the new Branthaven website is truly a brand website; free of aesthetic compromise that limits clarity of brand communication, unencumbered by technical shortfalls that hamper user experience or correctness of content and as a result a confident expression of the complete brand experience for Branthaven.