AIRSTON HOMES CREATED A simple way for online home shoppers to customize its floor plans online. After selecting a community, prospective buyers can link to the site's “Build Your Own Home” section at, which displays the floor plans from that project. Each plan offers several structural options, all prepriced and pre-engineered, from extending the footprint to adding bay windows or a third upstairs bath.

As users move the cursor over the options listed in the menu for each plan, the change appears on the adjacent floor plan to indicate the alteration being considered. A simple click on that option in the menu transforms the affected area on the plan; chosen options can be deselected in the final design. Buyers can print out their altered plans and take them when they visit the community, and/or e-mail them to themselves or someone else—including an Airston sales office, where their online changes, along with other opportunities for interior and nonstructural customization, are calculated.

“An interactive floor plan is the most effective way to show what you can do [to accommodate structural changes],” says Cheryl Hoffman, director of sales and marketing at Airston, which closes about 100 move-up homes a year in Northern Virginia. “It can help a buyer rule in or rule out a community depending on what he can do with a model, and [it] better connects us with prospects.” Flash technology enables the functionality, which works best on the latest PC browsers and Internet connections but will still operate with slower, dial-up modems.

Campaign Details Program: Web site; Builder: Airston Homes, Centerville, Va.; Interactive agency: Direct Affect Marketing, Reston, Va.