Bownds Ranches: Let us show you Texas
A bold design system and a focus on imagery combined with a lightning fast site deliver a world-class digital experience. The site shows Bownds as the first choice for selling premium ranches Texas-wide, as well as garnering interest for purchase across the globe.
Bownds Ranches are a third generation family-owned and run property group, listing ranches in Hill Country, Central, South & West Texas. But in a tough market, Brandon Bownds, himself a fifth-generation rancher, was looking to differentiate himself and the business he runs with his partner Kim. A surplus of samey websites surrounded Bownds, and the brief was simple - to create an unique and unexpected web experience to blow them out of the (live) water.
Digital Brand RefreshUser experienceUI designFullstack development
Webby Nominee - Real EstateAwwwards Site of the DayAwwwards Developer AwardCommunication Arts Magazine Webpick
With a desire to attract sellers of larger, more valuable ranches, the site needed to feel first-class and trustworthy at every interaction a user has with it. We had to design a premium digital experience that was fitting of the above-and-beyond, high-touch personal service Bownds offers. Having read some of their heartfelt client testimonials, we knew we had to encourage people to take that first step to speak with Brandon. We knew as soon as they did, it would become clear there was no-one else better suited to marketing their ranch, and getting the best result.
Owners of large, premium ranches in Texas who are thinking of selling were the key target market to win over with the new site. They may be taking advantage of the tax free exchange laws and upgrading their property, or simply selling up. The bigger the ranch, the better - ideally several hundred acres and upwards - and live water ranches are the most sought after by buyers. We needed to show these owners that for Brandon, this is more than just a job, and that they will be doing business with a tight team they can trust.
Our first port of call was to refine the brand, and really give it some oomph. Bownd’s iconic bull horn logo was a powerful part of their identity they didn’t want to lose, so we tightened him up, and paired him with another icon, GT America. We also created a colour palette to complement their recognisable and much loved orange tone, that played on the landscape while not overshadowing it.
With personal service a cornerstone of the Bownds experience, we promoted direct contact with Brandon. The homepage features an immersive, scrolling introduction to Brandon and his philosophy, and at several points throughout the site the user is prompted to get in touch via phone, form or email.
With the Texan property market currently tight, Bownds did not have as many listings live as they would have liked. So our UX and design approach was to turn what they perceived as a weakness, into a strength. By creating a site which showcases a smaller amount of properties in a more premium way, rather than an avalanche of listings, we can make sellers feel more special and bring to life the personalised service they will get from Brandon and Kim.
The design also needed to be nothing short of jaw dropping, to show ranch owners their property will be represented in all its glory. With stunning visual assets to play with, we dialled these up with oversize image blocks and full width video. The ranch listing pages are extensive, with each property its own illustrated story, beckoning the potential buyer to see themselves in their new ranch. Transitions and animations are engaging, giving the site dozens of magic moments where we wanted users to focus on key messages and be immersed in the experience of the property.
For buyers keen to make a Texan property theirs, sticky CTA buttons enabled them to register their interest in minimal taps, with a pre-populated form going straight to Brandon.
We engineered a clever colour-change slice in the backend, that allows the content editors to group and change the colours of multiple slices at once, add an optional paper-tear edge (for that rustic ranch vibe), add an animated noise texture, or an image texture. These nuances add that all-important layer of detail, making Bownds stand out from the sea of competitors.
This was Nightjar’s first build to use the new “Lenis” scroll library, which allowed us to use css sticky (for example, the scrolling logo on the homepage), and made some of the cursor based interactions easier, while improving overall performance and accessibility.
And most importantly of all, the UX, design and engineering of the site allows for easy expansion of more listings in the future by building out content-rich pages, to scale as the business does.