Last year we reviewed the "official" Elvis-site, Elvis Presley's Graceland. We had quite some comments. A couple of weeks ago EPE added a feature to their site, a mailing list to keep visitors informed on the latest updates. Well, that doesn't seem to work very well, since we had to found out ourselves that EPE redesigned their website completely. Did they read the review and listen to the advice we gave? We promised to be back several times in the past, to reconsider our reviews. The new look of Elvis Presley’s Graceland is a good reason to start fulfilling our promise. Is it necessary to reconsider our original review this time?
The entry has really improved. A beautiful shockwave animation, a big one (310 Kb), but worth downloading, welcomes you in a very professional way. When you’re in a hurry you can skip the intro and go to the real content immediately.
The site is heavy, with active server pages and Java-applets, but the result, a great presentation of the content, makes it worth waiting for the pages to load. The randomly chosen pictures in the tasteful design are really fit for The King of Rock ’n’ Roll®. It is a modern design, placing Elvis between other modern artists on the web. It will certainly invite visitors to stay a little bit longer than the old (dull) design did.
The menu on the main pages (each “subject” has its own main page) is at the right, in a nice guitar-shaped design. The other menus are on the left and can expand (and collapse again) into different sub-menu-items. At the bottom of each page a text-submenu is added so it’s pretty hard to get lost on this site. Right after our previous review and our comments on the site’s navigation EPE changed that and kept those improvements in this version. So for those familiar with the previous version navigation is easy since the subjects are the same. There are two remarks we can make on the navigation. The first is that the menus are placed on both the right and left side of the screen. The other remark is that once a submenu is opened and you choose one of the sub-menu-items, a new page opens with a collapsed menu and you have to reopen the submenu again.
This site has been created for an 800 x 600 resolution filling out the screen completely. Some pages are very long and the text is placed in a very small (not outlined) column, leaving a lot of empty space.
The quality of the images, especially the “modern” way in which they are presented is very good. As said before there are randomisers on the main page so they look different each time you (re)open it. The main-menu-items all have one, well chosen, image that reflects the subject, so you easily recognize what you’re looking for.
The content of the site hasn’t changed too much from the previous version. Several new features have been added, like a search engine, a mailing list, a free screensaver, streaming media, different languages and e-cards.
The main menu contains several information links, more or less directly linked to Elvis (Elvisology and the Graceland Mansion) and some links to “business” of EPE (Presley's Memphis Restaurant, Elvis Presley's Heartbreak Hotel, Shop Elvis and Presley Place). So our conclusion “that the site seems to be more Graceland than Elvis orientated. It reflects the general opinion among fans, that EPE is more interested in the money than in the "product" that makes the money” is still valid. These “commercial” items are worked out in detail giving a lot of information to the visitor. They are not particularly interesting, but when you need them (e.g. to visit Graceland) they are available. At least they are placed better in the current menu, but that was already changed after our first review.
The “Elvis”-items really have some very detailed and complete information. It’s exactly the kind of information (news and facts) you expect on an “official” website. All we can say the news is “their” news and we miss the “other” Elvis related news, like e.g. local releases, activities and so on. But there’s another website for that (fortunately).
The different languages, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian, are links to another internet-company providing on-line translation of web-content. There are a lot of not (or badly) interpreted words in the different translations. It’s also a pity a site like this uses another company, with a banner frame, to offer the translations of its content.
The screensaver is a nice idea and it’s available for both PC and Macintosh users. That is something you don’t see that often. It’s very strange that you have to enter your email-address to enter the download page, hopefully we don't get flooded with unwanted e-mail. Also new are the e-cards that have really well chosen pictures. You can even select the stamp you want to use.
The “streaming media”-part is fun, they’re 360-degree pictures, so you can stand in front of Graceland, and turn around completely, and even look up and down.
There are still some errors on the site, like upon entering the music department of the shop we got a picture of “Golden Records, Volume 5”, with a text saying it is Volume 6. Also we got the same CD’s at the bottom (at least 2 out of 3) several times. Hopefully these minor mistakes will be removed soon.
Our conclusion is that EPE had a good look around the WWW looking at the different features that can be found on a lot of Elvis-sites. The picked the best and worked them out very well. Most remarks we had in our original review were adjusted in the previous (small re-)design and/ or adjusted in this new design. The content, together with the way it is presented make this site a really good and very entertaining starting page for Elvis fans on the web. The site lives up to the goal it has, presenting EPE and it’s product “Elvis Presley” on the WWW and offering the basic information to anybody interested in Elvis Presley, next to some great gadgets.
The redesign worked out well for EPE because we gladly adjust our reward from a one to a three star award.