Here at Propeller, we’re avid scuba divers so when Redlands’ Tourism Award Winners Manta Lodge & Scuba Centre approached us to re-design their website, bringing with them a whole host of some of the best underwater photography we’ve ever seen along with an open and innovative attitude to the project, we knew we were in a position to create something really special.
With a complex muli-faceted business to cover, the initial brief was daunting though we quickly came up with a plan to include;
- Content Management System with comment-enabled News system & full end-user site editing and management
- Course & Event Calendar
- Flash Video
- Flash Banner Galleries & a multi-album gallery to feature the masses of great photography & gallery management console
- Live Weather
- Live-search + OpenSearch
- Google Map
- Downloadable Forms
- Contact & Enquiry Form
All this while maintaining XHTML Strict standard coding, Phew!
Having gone through several design iterations Manta Lodge settled on a black-backed centred design featuring a huge open-out ocean background plunging to an abyssal dark blue. We wanted to maintain the feeling of the ocean’s vastness and depth whilst keeping the content front and centre – achieved with the top-right navigation sitting alongside either a page-specific photograph or as on the home page, a slideshow to provide a taste of some the awesome photographs available in the huge multi-album gallery.
The home page also features a great promotional video of a dive at Stradbroke Island. Click to open full page to feel like you’re in amongst Stradbroke Islands’ plethora of marine life. If this doesnt have you heading for the island and suiting up, nothing will. If you’re not already certified, check the events calendar for the next Open Water Course and get wet!
A customised satellite/hybrid Google map provides an orientation for the centre and Stradbroke Island to the mainland in addition to the ability to switch to satellite imagery and zoom down to the beach and dive sites. Live weather widgets keep site visitors up to date with local conditions.
Manta Lodge’s Award winning accommodation and activities are also featured in addition to a News section keeping you up to date with happenings at the centre and stories of people’s dive experiences at the island. Subscribe to the sites’ RSS feed to stay up to date without having to visit every day to check.
Multiple site search options are headed by a slick AJAX driven live search feature, displaying results immediately as you type your search query. A standard search facility is available as a fall back ensuring maximum compatibility. Manta Lodge & Scuba Centre is also OpenSearch enabled allowing frequent users to add Manta Lodge & Scuba Centre to the search menu of OpenSearch capable browsers such as Firefox.
Collapsible panels throughout allow users to customise their viewport, bringing items lower on the page into focus.
One of the most stunning sites we’ve ever produced and certainly one of the most state of the art in terms of features, Manta Lodge & Scuba Centre is a technical tour de force while none of our usual strict standards have been sacrificed with the whole site validating as XHTML Strict, CSS2 and meeting WCAG accessibility guidelines. Built on the powerful and flexible Textpattern CMS, the entire site is user-maintainable with Slideshow Pro Director acting as quarterback to manage the Flash galleries.
Many thanks go to James Griffith of Manta Lodge & Scuba Centre for his confidence and patience in letting us loose to create this great site. We can’t wait to see how the site evolves once the diving community get involved.