All bamboo products are not created equal. Although the material itself is rapidly renewable, a bamboo forest is still a forest – an ecosystem – and demand for "sustainable" products here in the states has led to a rash of irresponsible harvesting techniques, worsened by importers' don't-ask-don't-tell approach to supply-chain management.

Smith and Fong is one of the oldest players in the renewable building products industry, and has long championed stewardship among their supply partners. In 2008, the company won the inclusion of bamboo into the Forest Stewardship Council's rulebook, and has a sterling reputation for responsible supply management and premium products.

But though a company's conduct may be impeccable, it still has to sell its products, and S&F's quiet, deeds-not-words marketing was being overshouted by less-experienced and less-reputable competitors, particularly on the Web, which is a primary source of information for the architects and designers that are the company's core constituents. They engaged Pinch to redesign their site to better serve those people, and in accordance with the principles of SEO, so that plyboo.com would appear more prominently in materials search results.

We delivered a highly visual site that capitalizes on the products' beauty and utility, executed according to Web standards, and which now places Smith & Fong firmly at the top or in the first page of search results for the category.

Index page

Analytics revealed that over 90% of plyboo.com's traffic came from visitors using high-resolution monitors and high-bandwidth connections. That was fortunate, since customer research showed that users wanted larger images, both of the products themselves and of their installations. We designed the site around a relatively large viewport (990 × 800px) featuring a 960 × 625 image area. Here, on the index page, the image area is home to a javascript slideshow of installations. A keyword-loaded company statement remains constant from view to view. Certain views, such as the large screen shown here, offer captions that link back to product pages.

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Product browser

The site is trafficked mostly by architects and interior designers. And since it can be difficult to make fine distinctions in describing a broad range of products made out of the same material, we opted to supplement traditional menus with a visual, desire-based navigation scheme, helped by plain language. Here, we show a simple matrix of product swatches sortable by product offering (plywood, flooring, paneling, veneer); a rollover shows product description and availability.

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Product detail pagetype

Product pages fill the image area with a large product swatch at 1:1 scale, so that customers can get a better sense of how the product looks. Users can quickly choose which specifications they want; a separate print-specific style sheet outputs a clear, near-brochure quality version of this same information.

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Application detail pagetype

Large images of applications are easily found, either by linking from the appropriate product page or via a menu-based system. The smaller view at right shows a hidden menu containing direct access to other installations using this particular product.

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Interactive distributor and reseller map

 

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Corporate information pagetype

Here, showing media-specific resources.

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Institutional pagetype

"Inside S&F" is a full section within the site that provides plain-spoken discussions of the company's philosophy of sustainability and its overseas harvest and manufacturing processes.

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