Auto-Playing Video Sets The Scene And Immerses Users Into The Online Experience
The Hidden Worlds Of The National Parks is an interactive site created by Google that gives users a guided tour throughout five captivating and breathtaking national parks across the world. Thanks to this interactive platform, users can learn about the history of these places and the wildlife that lives inside of them.
And it’s more than just an educational site — it’s fun too!
Right from the start, this platform opens up and gives you a sneak peek into these places — from canyons to underwater destinations and more. And what really helps immerse you into these spots is the auto-playing video that grabs your attention instantly.
From the second you land on the page until the time you decide to explore a given destination, an introduction plays across the screen with a camera zooming across the horizon. You’re welcomed with forests and oceans and wildlife of all shapes and sizes.
And accompanying these images are informative guides in the form of a helpful voiceover as well as soothing and inspiring music that sets the mood and leads you on a journey.
These videos really set the scene. They're introductions, after all. And they tell users what they can expect from the beauty within.
But these videos don’t just live as introductions. They're also embedded throughout the entire experience. Watch fish swim, explore the night sky and more all with the help of pre-recorded videos that show you what life is like in these destinations.
Video is a powerful medium for grabbing attention and immersing users into an experience. It shows as opposed to tells. And it helps relax users so that they actually want to continue exploring themselves.
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A Minimal Website Layout Guides Users Effortlessly Throughout The Five National Parks
The site’s homepage sets the tone for the immersive experience to come. The user is immediately greeted with a slide of moving images from some of the country’s most pristine landscapes. The site pairs a tranquil recording of nature-based sounds with the stunning imagery.
This use of audio adds a whole new layer of depth to the header. Text and navigation are kept to a bare minimum, so as not to detract from the incredible visuals. The only option for the user, it seems, is to click the glaring blue navigation button at the center of the page. It’s time to start exploring.
Upon clicking the button, the stunning visuals and audio continue. Now, the narratives of park rangers take over, enticing the user to delve further into the hidden worlds of the parks. The short audio and animation end abruptly, adding a sense of drama to the experience. The user is then faced with a five-column thumbnail design. The images chosen for each respective park depict the natural landscape and are layered with a color filter to match—blue for oceans, orange for canyons, brown for caverns, gray for volcanoes and white for glaciers.
Upon hover, a modal window displays the selected thumbnail image and a brief description of the adventure experience. The other columns fade into the background. Again buttons and navigation are kept to a bare minimum, and it seems the user is given one of two choices: proceed with the experience or click the sticky white nav button in the lower left corner, which will most likely take them home.
For those who move forward with the experience, prepare to be swept across an aerial map of earth before being firmly planted on the ground. Here the user meets the park ranger and is again carried by the audio-visual experience into a world of natural wonder. The animated slides stop, and the user is suddenly faced with a panoramic view of one of the most remote areas of the park. All goes quiet (drama, drama, drama!) as a new nav button appears front-and-center. To explore or not to explore?
There is a very simple, straightforward nature to this design. At every step of the way, there are only a few options to click through and decide upon. And the minimal nav tools help to streamline the journey from start to finish.
This makes it easier for the user to immerse themselves into the sights and sounds of this website, putting them right in the middle of these destinations.
This is almost like a movie that users get to be a part of and interact with. And its sleek, minimal aesthetic helps to put the power of these national parks front and center.
The Web Design Incorporates Interactive Elements To Get Users Involved Right From The Start
Users can create their own journey of sorts with this website. Of course, everything is already predetermined, the video is already recorded and narratives are already laid out. But users can still explore at their own leisure and craft an experience personalized to them.
And that’s thanks to the abundance of interactive features that let users play around with the site and all it has to offer. Literally, the first CTA users are met with upon entering the site is the word “Play” and from here, the real magic happens.
Auto-playing video reels you in, kickstarting your adventure. And after the video ends, you’re able to click which destination to explore. Go underwater, check out an active volcano or go to the canyon to stargaze.
Whichever destination you choose, you’re welcomed with a number of options to play around with once you get there.
360-degree panoramas open up endless possibilities. You can listen along to the guide or set out on your own playful journey, learning more about the terrain, the wildlife or the history of a given area.
It’s almost like a game, and that playfulness really makes the entire experience more welcoming and fun.
Panoramas Place The Users Directly Inside The Parks
Another key element of this design is the images that immerse you quite literally into these destinations.
Clicking on a given travel module, the user is taken deep inside a natural wonder with the help of 360-degree panoramas, and total freedom to drag, pull, and move the scene as they please.
Again, the site gives users only two choices: click on that bottom left sticky nav button and go home, or choose the second button and keep adventuring.
Ironic, isn’t it? Limiting noise and distractions frees the user to focus on nothing but the adventure at hand. In fact, by completely limiting choices and user navigation elements, Google has successfully built an all-encompassing interactive experience.
And these visuals really bring the design full circle. Users can scroll, drag and click away and they will still get a 360-degree experience. It’s almost like being there! And you really do feel one with the world around you thanks to these visuals.
This is a very experimental design as a whole, but especially thanks to the infusion of these panorama shots. It really gives users an experience unlike any they’ve ever had. Google really blew us out of the water with this design, using experimental and innovative technologies to craft a personalized experience for users worldwide.
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Audio Guides Users Throughout The Hidden Worlds Website & Informs Them In An Inspiring Way
An added bonus of this site is the audio that plays around every corner and with every click.
It makes for a cohesive and comprehensive experience that can’t be ignored or forgotten. Background music and sounds capture the essence of these destinations and the animals that live within them.
And the help of an audio guide who, literally, walks you through the heritage and the prestige of these places immerses you even further.
Audio is memorable and impactful. And here it takes the design to a whole new level.
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The Hidden Worlds Site Gives Users Intimate Access Into The Wonders Nature Has To Offer
Prepare yourself for total immersion into some of the country’s most beautiful and coveted national parks. This website, one of Google’s latest developing endeavors, takes users deep into the heart of five national parks. Real park rangers guide and narrate each journey, accompanied by breathtaking 360-degree panoramas and videos.
This is a dazzling website that really puts users right in the middle of these five natural wonders. From underwater adventures to volcanic explosions, users can not only learn about these places but see them and experience them on a full visual and auditory journey.
The simplicity paired with the interactivity of this design really sets the mood right off the bat. And the engaging visuals sprinkled throughout make this website one that is impossible to forget.
These national parks were once hidden gems, but thanks to Google they are now in the spotlight and can be celebrated as they should be.
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