Week of July 17, 2000
  Editor's Choice Web Pick
   of the Week

Studley Site Does Shockwave:
A Striking Shot of Visual New School

Looks certainly shouldn't count for everything. Nonetheless, as media watchers from Vance Packard on have demonstrated, appearances certainly count for something - particularly if you care about niggling little trivialities like attracting customers.

That's why we were struck by the visual pop that vibrates onscreen at the Julien J. Studley site (www.studley.com). And that makes the Studley site something of an anomaly - at least for now. Despite the Web's highly visual nature, the overwhelming majority of current real estate sites emphasize content far more than appearance.

In part, that's both appropriate and predictable. Real estate is a substantive business. It's also by and large a conservative one - a mindset that doesn't tend to be enamored with whiz-bang visuals.

This reviewer is firmly of the substance-over-style school. Nonetheless, the Studley site's visual sizzle makes it jump out from the pack. We've seen few real estate industry sites that use Shockwave technology as well.

Studley is no cyberspace Johnny-Come-Lately, which adds significance to the site's use of new-school technology. The company's lineage dates all the way back to 1954.

Avoiding the Too-Busy Trap

Mind you, this site doesn't have the withering bevy of visual bells and whistles on those sites that fairly scream at you, "Look at us! We're on the bleeding techno edge!"

That's good. Overly busy visuals almost always detract from a business-oriented site.

The Studley site doesn't go that ill-advised route. Instead, it makes its most arresting optical statement when the site comes up, presenting a swirl of buildings and skylines.

(To see it, you'll need the Shockwave technology plug-in. If you have it, the site automatically launches a second browser window that contains those visual goodies. If you don't, the site makes it easy to get. A homepage click-off links directly to the site for the Shockwave plug-in, which downloads rapidly and smoothly. And, yes, users with no interest in the high-impact visuals can take a pass on them by clicking "Skip the Intro.")

Content Mostly Studley-Centric

Once that arresting intro is done, the site's graphics become a bit tamer.

Users are then given a set of content options, listed on the left-hand side of the page. As for the Studley site's content, it's fine and good, at least if what you're looking for is information on this particular broker. That subject matter, however, doesn't signal any striking leap forward. What is does, essentially, is strongly present the case for the company's considerable skills and experience.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. Selling your products and services is the name of the Web game.

On a personal-taste note, we tend to most admire sites that link at least to something, anything else. Those links underscore the interconnectedness that's such an essential part of the Web's DNA.

This site doesn't do that. Nonetheless, what you'll find here does a good job of telling you the who, where, what and why of the Studley organization.

And the site does provide useful info on 13 major U.S. markets. For example, the online "Studley Effective Rental Index" uses "actual negotiated deal terms" to subtract lease concessions from typical asking rents. In addition, you'll find the latest deals Studley has brokered in those 13 markets; a click for each deal gives you the particulars.

The Visuals Are the Sizzle

The bottom line here, though, is that the visuals are what make this site stand out. The Shockwave intro grabs attention -- and in a world fairly drowning in Web sites, that's no mean advantage.

Studley's use of Shockwave isn't a major shock. The company has a strong track record in using advanced technologies. For example, it has its own proprietary financial analysis systems and employs three-dimensional mapping, Pro-Calc and Pro-Ject. The site also offers an online demo of Ultranet, Studley's Web-based project management tool. In addition, the company has a host of technological heavyweights as clients, including Microsoft, Compaq, Digital Equipment Corp. and Gateway. (For more, see the "Select Clients" section.)

We can expect Shockwave to show up on more real estate sites. Though primarily utilized in the entertainment sector in its early stages, Shockwave is rapidly gaining acceptance. (Lexus, for example, is now employing the technology to allow users to build their own online car, while David Lynch - he of "Twin Peaks," "Blue Velvet," and "The Straight Story" fame -- is now exclusively working online in Shockwave.)

No, online real estate isn't likely to turn into some Weird Wired World. Content, rightfully, will continue as king.

Technologies like Shockwave, though, clearly offer attention-grabbing advantages. Sites like Studley's are capitalizing. And that's good business.



©2000 Conway Data, Inc. All rights reserved. Data is from many sources and is not warranted to be accurate or current.