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To entice web explorers to traverse the physi­cal world instead, travel-planning brand Adventure.com features luminous photography, sophisticated trip-planning tools and spirited typography. In-depth, first-person narratives help readers envision cycling from New York to Hong Kong or hiking Oahu’s “forbidden stairway to heaven” (this last story made the first page of Digg during Adventure.com’s first two weeks). The design team—consisting of staffers from San Diego agency Digital Telepathy and travel marketing company ISM/CP—spent a large part of the four-month project optimizing page loading to support the high-quality photography. They experimented with the ideal way to export photos and settled on the WordPress photo-compressing plug-in WP Smush.it, progressive JPEG loading and two layers of caching. The result is an elegant site that loads instantly. To guide users seamlessly, custom navigation tools appear where they are needed—for example, search features show up in the blog, quick links to travel categories appear in the trip section and social media sharing tools pop up only when a user starts reading a story, freeing up valuable space across the top navigation bar. Users can further customize the site by saving stories and trips to a personalized list. So far, Adventure.com has gained more than 80,000 Facebook fans and almost 5,000 Twitter followers. “Most travel sites are just retailers promoting commodities,” Adventure.com vice president Travis Snelling says. “We’re building a lifestyle brand as a content publisher and focusing on telling the visual story of the trips and experiences we feature instead of just listing an itinerary with a price tag.”
adventure.com

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