Idlewild Park and Soak Zone have technically been around since 1878, making it the oldest amusement park in Pennsylvania and the third oldest amusement park in the United States. However, that doesn’t mean they haven’t modernized themselves over the years. One of their big successes is their colorful and engaging website.
The current homepage switches between two main images in a slow slideshow. One is cartoonish and the other is a picture of a father and daughter enjoying the park. This is smart because the homepage then uniquely attracts both children and parents. There’s also a lot of great information above-the-fold: “Things To Do,” “Plan A Visit,” “Hours & Directions,” “Where To Eat,” “Join Our Newsletter,” etc.
Also, at the very top of the page is the shopping cart and links for season passes and cabanas. This is a great spot for that because that’s the way most online shops do it; so you never have trouble finding your cart. These navigation tools are also consistent on every page so the site appears fluid and has continuity.
It also has a helpful bar across the top of the page if the park season is over notifying customers that the park is currently closed, but welcoming them to come back for the next season.
Below the fold there are more links to what can be purchased (season passes, etc.), social media links, and a notice that the park won Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Award for Best Children’s Park—which is definitely something they should be promoting on their home page.
At the bottom of the page are well-sectioned links for more specific navigation around the site. Like the shopping cart tool, their consistent place at the bottom of the page makes it easy to find what you’re looking for.
One great feature about the website (found in the links at the bottom of the page) is Idlewild Cares. This page promotes charities they participate in with Kennywood and Sandcastle to bring children in need the joy of amusement parks. It’s certainly a great cause and important to feature on their website.
Another great accomplishment of the site is that it passes the WAVE test for web accessibility with only one error and four small alerts — meaning it is highly accessible to those with different physical characteristics such as sight and hearing challenges. This shows Idlewild Park’s commitment to providing family fun for any family — no matter their physical traits.
The load time for the desktop site is 7-9 seconds (the average is 6 seconds; less is better) and the “first byte” loads immediately (excellent!). The site has 90 requests (the average is 70; less is better) and the “content weight” is about 2MB (the average is 1.7MB; less is better). It also has fewer than 100 links on the home page (which is very good) and only four bad links out of 125 on the whole site. Overall, these are great numbers!
Unlike many of the common “mobile responsive” websites we see being built that provide the full website experience adapted for a user’s mobile device, Idlewild chooses to instead serve specific “mobile-ready” content to visitors on mobile devices. That is handy as a quick reference tool and, if a user feels like they are missing anything, there is a link to the “full website” experience. The mobile-ready content site provides a basic user experience – an attractive background image and simple menu to the basic information you might want while on the go.
It can be challenging for websites to deal with a variety of competing priorities. While Fort Pitt Web Shop has various opinions on the matter, it really isn’t fair to judge whether choosing the mobile content-only approach is “good” or “bad” unless one had the opportunity to sit through all those meetings where those priorities were laid out and weighed.
Overall, the site is extremely friendly and engaging, and sure to draw in any families looking for a day of summer fun. It also highlights important accomplishments and goals of Idlewild Park that make it more than just your everyday amusement park. We’re already looking forward to next season and what they have in store!