I initially stumbled upon this awesome website by searching for “web design gallery” on Google, as Professor Campbell suggested. My first result, Best Web Gallery, yielded a page full of designs so beautiful, it was hard to pick just one. I clicked on the first thumbnail, a site with a large picture of a mountain for its homepage, and was instantly drawn in. After much examination I discovered that it is a website for a custom jewelry line. I chose to analyze this website through the lens of my marketing knowledge, since this website is marketing a product in a very interesting way.
What U R, located at Feelwhatyouare.com, is a Barcelona-based manufacturer of silver pendant necklaces with insignias on them that represent different extreme sports (surfing, snowboarding, mountain climbing, etc.). However, the site itself doesn’t attempt to sell the jewelry so much as to sell the lifestyle that the product entails. While it does not have e-commerce capabilities (you can’t buy the necklaces online), there is a “Catalog” that shows all available products and notes that the online store “will be available soon.” There is also a link inviting site visitors to become distributors via a contact form. The interesting thing about this site is its emphasis on the “brand,” not just the product or the logo but the lifestyle of the intended customer. The rhetoric appeals to the emotions of these athletes who participate in these extreme sports.
(Note: the site is based out of Barcelona, and is entirely in Spanish; however, there are also English and French versions available. Some of my screenshots are in English while some are in the original Spanish.)
Home Page. When I first navigated to the page, the top of the screen was a simple brown background with the company logo spinning around while the page loaded. Within a moment, the brown background faded into a picture of a huge curling ocean wave. This background image switches back and forth every few seconds between the wave, the mountains, and a sunset over a bay with some windsurfing sail things resting on the shore (I’ve never been windsurfing in my life and have no idea what the correct terminology is). The photos are breathtaking.
There is a navigation bar at the top of the page listing “Home,” “What U R,” “Catalogue,” and “Contact.” The text stays fixed at the top of the screen when I scroll down. After I scroll past the background image, a navigation bar re-appears for the text to rest on, since it is no longer overlaid on the image. I like how the navigation bar is stationary with respect to the image. It makes me feel like the background is an actual part of the landscape of the website, not just a superficially imposed photograph splashed onto the page. This makes the people of What U R seem genuine, entrenched in this adventurous lifestyle, as opposed to just trying to make a sales pitch.
When I scroll down further, there is a brief description of what the site is all about, but the paragraph focuses mostly on the feelings of unity with nature that someone might feel when visiting those places shown in the background photos:
About. The page entitled “What U R” begins with another strong emotional appeal to extreme sports athletes and enthusiasts, followed by a row of beautiful pictures of such athletes:
It isn’t until I scroll down that I finally get an idea of what the actual product is. There is a map of Spain indicating Barcelona, a very brief description of the actual jewelry wrapped up in another description of the extreme sports lifestyle. The bottom of the page also includes picture of the gift boxes I assume the necklaces are packaged in:
Catalog. Now I come to the “Catalogue” page, where the actual products are listed. We begin with more changing background photos:
Below that is an image which lists the “Ingredients” of the product as “water-resistant silver, wind, fun, and you.” I’m not sure if this is really necessary other than it seems to be a creative way to describe the product, as the water-resistance is an important feature to the intended customer, the extreme athlete.
Next, the actual products. There are 8 necklaces total, each with a different symbol to represent a different element or sport: kite, waves, mountain, paddle surf, snowboard, surf, wind, and windsurf.
When I hover over each necklace, the image changes to a picture of what the necklace describes, overlaid with text describing the specifications of the item. This is an example of the first one, Kite:
Contact. This page is very straightforward and simple, which shows me that What U R is de-emphasizing the business aspect of their operation.
Overall effects. The What U R website is much more about the brand than about the product it promotes. I would describe the What U R “brand” as nature-loving, exciting, and full of the romance of adventure. The site emphasizes the pictures much more than the words, and the pictures of nature are much more strongly emphasized than the pictures of the actual products. The choice of colors also lends itself to this brand; the brown and cream hues evoke a sort of natural warmth. I also liked how the site was always in motion, with the pictures changing constantly on a timed basis or when I hovered my mouse over a link. This lends a feeling of constant movement I associate with extreme sports and adventure. The site was fairly easy to navigate, and I think that the Catalog and Contact form being listed after all of the emotional appeals reinforced the brand image. My only real criticism is that the English version of the site didn’t seem to be translated very well; however, this is something minor that can be fixed. Also, there seems to be some slight discrepancies in the name of the company. The logo reads “What U R,” but the title page in my browser spells out the full text, “What You Are.” The URL is “Feelwhatyouare,” but the tagline on the home page lists the full text as “What you feel is what you are.” For the sake of brand consistency I would strongly recommend picking one version of the title and tagline and sticking with it. But overall, I loved the design and feel of this site and think that it very strongly promotes the brand. What U R isn’t selling silver necklaces. It’s selling a lifestyle, a lifestyle of adventure and rugged beauty.