The Name Voyager maps the relative popularity of the top 1,000 baby names using an interactive chart that depicts peaks and valleys of popularity and allows easy comparisons. Doris, for instance, ranked number eight in 1920 but has been in sharp decline ever since. Brooklyn, on the other hand, did not even rank in the 1980s, but by 2004 (the most recent year for which data is available), it had spiked to number 101. Created by Martin Wattenberg to accompany his wife Laura Wattenberg’s book Baby Name Wizard, the application makes complex data easily accessible to expectant parents. “It takes a huge amount of information and makes it instantly understandable, not only on the level of individual names but also in terms of broad patterns. You can see how different names relate to one another and also that the broad trend is toward a greater diversity of names,” said Hirschfeld.
DESIGN Martin Wattenberg (Winchester, MA)
CLIENT Laura Wattenberg (Winchester, MA)
Comcastic, which was designed by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners for the cable provider Comcast, is devoted to entertainment. “This site has some of the best visual design we’ve seen in the competition,” said Stowell. Hirschfeld agreed, noting especially the use of color and typography. But the fun part came when the jurors toyed with two applications that loosely represent the client’s brand attributes. “On Demand” is depicted by a puppet that is controlled using the keyboard or an external microphone. Users can record a soundtrack and voice over for the puppet to dance to, either by plugging a microphone into the computer or by calling a special number. “High Speed Internet” features a series of games designed to test your dexterity as you compete for the “World Speed Mouse Record.” “It’s beautiful,” said Davis. “Completely useless, but beautiful.”
DESIGN Goodby, Silverstein & Partners (San Francisco): Will McGinness and Keith Anderson, creative directors; Toria Emery, associate creative director; Mike Geiger, interactive production director
CLIENT Comcast (Philadelphia)
FONT Helvetica Neue
SOFTWARE Macromedia Flash, 3-D Studio Max, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator
“Punk rock,” said Davis, admiring a gold-plated bunny-tipped swizzle stick for sale on Citizen:Citizen’s site. More attitude than e-commerce, the site, designed by Bigflannel, features items for the urban rock star who has everything. The homepage pulls a random selection of cryptic keywords, such as translucent, forest, and contour, that are associated with different content elements. Clicking on any of the words leads users on a journey into the site’s depths with no explanation and little navigation. This makes the site difficult to use—but that’s part of the point. Anyone who has something better to do would not be shopping for a pill filled with 24-karat gold flakes that you swallow in order to produce “sparkly shit.” “What the hell is this?” asked Hirschfeld. “It progresses the Web rather than standardizing it,” Davis replied.
DESIGN Bigflannel (New York): Mike Hartley, creative director
CLIENT Citizen:Citizen (New York)
FONTS Helvetica Neue, American Old Typewriter, Edwardian Script
SOFTWARE Adobe Photoshop, Macromedia Dreamweaver and Flash
Kohn Pedersen Fox Architects
Simply navigating through Firstborn’s website for KPF Architects teaches visitors about the work. Thumbnail images of architectural details serve two purposes: They represent the contents of a particular section and they provide an overview of similar projects. By the time users reach a particular project or piece of content, they are already grounded in the firm’s aesthetic. “The navigation is progressive and succeeds in doing something different from the other architecture sites I’ve seen,” said Davis. Stowell agreed: “The emphasis on navigation could have gotten in the way, but instead the approach feels organic, and the transitions between sections are smooth,” he said. Extras, such as text and background that could be changed from white on black to black on white, were icing on the cake.
DESIGN Firstborn (New York): Vas Sloutchevsky, creative director
CLIENT Kohn Pedersen Fox Architects (New York)
SOFTWARE Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, Sound Forge, Macromedia FlashNike 10
The website for Nike 10, Nike’s new clothing line for the Latin American market, tells the story of an ordinary guy who is mistaken for a famous soccer player. Designed by the Mexican firm Grupo W, the site creates a Brazilian ambience by combining hand-drawn illustrations and colorful photography depicting everyday street scenes. The attention to detail won over the jurors. “Every element has been thought through and every opportunity taken,” said Stowell. “One of my favorite parts is the loading animation, which shows a guy kicking a soccer ball. You can make him do different kicks by using the number pad.” “There are a lot of sites using hand-drawn animation, but this is the best of them,” Davis agreed. “It surprised us.”
DESIGN Grupo W (Saltillo, Mexico): Miguel Calderon and Ulises Valencia, designers; Fernando Valdes, photographer
CLIENT Nike Latinoamerica (Portland, OR)
FONTS Fatso, Dirty Headline (hand drawn), Switzerland, Super 8
SOFTWARE Macromedia Flash, Painter, 3-D Studio Max, Adobe Audition and Premier
The Eternal Gandhi Multimedia Museum
If there could have been two Best of Category winners, this would have been the second. Located at the site in Mumbai where Gandhi was assassinated, the museum features a remarkable collection of interactive exhibits designed to help visitors share the life of the Mahatma. Objects evoking Gandhi’s life on display at the museum—such as prayer beads, spinning wheels, and walking sticks—are transformed into interfaces that allow visitors to virtually pray, make cloth, or march with the great man. “The scope and purpose of this project is greater than anything else we’ve seen,” said Stowell. Designed by Sacred World Research Laboratory under the direction of Ranjit Makkuni, the museum’s exhibits are an example of how new technology can help us reconnect with the past. One drawback? Because the jurors could watch only a DVD of stock footage showing people exploring the museum, they found it difficult to determine how each element functioned. Another problem the jurors had was that much of the accompanying design—from graphics to overall aesthetic—seemed amateurish in comparison to the designer’s obvious ambition. Still, the museum clearly pushed the boundaries of interactive technology: “It has interfaces I’ve never seen before,” said Davis.
DESIGN Sacred World Research Laboratory (New Delhi): Rangit Makkuni, director
CLIENT Aditya Birla Group (Mumbai)
SOFTWARE Custom software and computing hardware
Ready, Sit, Read Book Club
“When you compare this to other sites for kids, it’s just miles ahead,” said Hirschfeld of this Target-sponsored online book-club. “The animation is great—it feels like an interactive cartoon.” The site includes lovingly illustrated features such as a book-club name and logo generator, as well as reading recommendations and checklists that are obviously geared toward parents. Target developed the site internally and commissioned children’s book illustrator J. Otto Siebold to create the obsessively detailed drawings. “This site is so much better than it has to be,” said Stowell. “Layer upon layer of really weird scenes and characters.”
DESIGN/CLIENT Target Corporation (Minneapolis): David Lawrence, creative director; Tony Litner and Rich Schindeldecker, designers; J. Otto Siebold, illustrator
SOFTWARE Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, Macromedia Flash