Economic Development Website Review: Select Southlake

By Andrew Davies

Learn from the successes (and misses) of Select Southlake‘s economic development website, and uncover some UX best practices for your EconDev marketing website.

I love helping EconDEv professionals market their regions on their websites. But talking about what makes a good economic development website can get old. Sometimes it’s better to learn from other regions’ examples. So, let’s take a look at the website of SelectSouthlake, the economic development organization for Southlake, Texas.

First, the Pros

1. Select Southlake clearly shows us where they are

As I mentioned in my previous economic development website analyses, visitors likely won’t be familiar with the region’s location. So it’s great that Southlake’s website greets visitors with a large introduction video front and center on its homepage. The video’s initial few seconds display an animated map of the city, highlighting its location in Texas and its relation to other major cities.

Select Southlake's economic development website homepage with a prominent video at the top
Select Southlake’s website greets you with a giant video showcasing their relative location in Texas.

2. Important Economic Data is easy to reach

Select Southlake’s economic development website content is well organized. The homepage presents most of the information site selectors and business relocation specialists need, and the more detailed data is within a few clicks. This includes:

  • Workforce demographics: Data on education levels and income of the local talent pool.
  • Location benefits: Information highlighting proximity to a major airport.
  • A compelling “Why us” section: Clear and concise arguments for choosing Southlake. Each heading effectively addresses a key factor, using simple and easy-to-understand language. Examples include location, talent pool, existing businesses, quality of life, and economic incentives.
  • Robust supplemental content: Supporting materials like press releases, testimonials, and recent announcements. The site also integrates lifestyle content showcasing local events and festivals.
Select Southlake economic development website Homepage content areas.
Key economic development content areas on the Select Southlake homepage make a great case for the region.

Now, on to the Lessons

1. Give visitors control over the movement

While I love the Large video on the Homepage, there’s no pause button and the video starts with a lot of drastic camera movement that would upset motion-sensitive viewers. Besides, as I mentioned in my Town of Vienna review, including some form of video control is part of the WCAG requirements for accessible websites.

Select Southlake's economic development website's main video showing where a pause button should go.
Select Southlake’s main video doesn’t have a pause button with is an accessibility no-no.

2. Don’t hide the navigation

The main menu items are hidden behind a hamburger menu even at the desktop breakpoint. Hiding menu items makes for bad UX. While the hamburger menu offers a clean aesthetic on mobile,  it’s not as useful on desktops, it might be beneficial to expand the main menu options at wider breakpoints. This would reduce the number of clicks needed for users to access important content and enhance overall usability.

3. Searching should be instantaneous

Every second counts! Forcing users to click and wait, even for a short time like 2 seconds, to access the search bar is bad UX. A standard search bar, visible on the homepage, would eliminate unnecessary clicks and wasted time.

Select Southlake's economic development website's main navigation icons
Select Southlake’s main navigation and search features are hidden behind a click.

4. Fix the problematic “Why Southlake” section

The “Why Southlake” section on the website could be easier to navigate.  Right now, they use pictures to guide you, but you have to hover over them to see the text that tells you what each image means.  This was a bit confusing at first, especially on desktop where it just looks like a collage of photos instead of a way to find more information.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Make the text labels permanently visible. This will eliminate the need to hover and clarify what information each section offers at a glance.
  • For mobile users, address the potential accessibility issue. Ensure a strong color contrast between the text labels and background images. A translucent overlay behind the image can help improve legibility.
  • Consider a smoother movement. There’s a bit of a “jerk” animation when hovering over photos can be jarring. Explore options for a smoother reveal of the text labels, or remove the hover interaction altogether and rely solely on clear visuals and text.
  • Expand click/tap targets. You have to click directly on the text labels to activate the link, which is a bit hard on mobile and is counterintuitive since the entire image area reacts to the user. Consider making the entire photo and text area clickable, especially on mobile devices, to provide a more forgiving target area and enhance user experience.
SIde by side display of the Why Southlake section of their Homepage on desktop and mobile displays.
The “Why Southlake” section on desktop (left) is a bit confusing without text labels. Even the mobile version is hard to use due to the bad contrast and small tap area.

5. Make target industry data more prominent

As we know, targeting specific industries is key to economic development marketing, and Southlake has some great resources for businesses in their target industries. However, those stats are hidden right now, so let’s get those resources up front and center.

The target industries section of the Savannah Economic Development Authority's homepage.
The Savannah Economic Development Authority’s website showcases their target industries front-and-center on the homepage.

I recommend:

  • Showing them off more 
    Feature some promos that lead to the downloadable sheets for these target industries prominently on the homepage. Right now, you have to go through “Maps & Data”, to get to the industry profiles. Going through the link on the homepage or the  “World Class Businesses” page leads you to a broken page with no content.
  • Consolidating and Simplifying the navigation
    If there’s no reason to put the target industry content in two separate areas, then consolidate that into one page and just make the links from “World Class Businesses” and “Maps & Data” go straight to that page.
Both "Target Industries" sections on the Select Southlake economic development website.
The Target Industries page under the “Maps & Data” section is great (left). Trying to get to the same data from the Homepage or the “World Class Businesses” section leads to a broken page (right).

SelectSouthlake: A Website with Potential, But Room for Improvement

To wrap things up, we can learn a lot from the SelectSouthlake website. While it excels in some areas, like showcasing its location and providing easily digestible information, there are opportunities to improve the user experience.


  • Prioritize Accessibility: Consider motion sensitivity and WCAG compliance when using video.
  • Optimize Navigation: Make the main menu readily available on desktops and provide a quicker search experience.
  • Prioritize Clarity: If you’re going to use images as part of the content navigation like they did with their “Why Southlake” section, make sure there are clearly displayed text labels and smooth interactions to avoid confusion.
  • Promote Target Industry Data: Feature these resources prominently on the homepage and consolidate their location.

By implementing these suggestions, SelectSouthlake can create a more user-friendly and effective website that attracts even more businesses to their city.