Atlas AS4 Modular Shelving Builder
This site exemplified the appeal of simple utility. Designed in-house by Atlas Industries, it allows users to select preset shelving components and drag them into a workspace where they can be configured to form custom units. Each component in the palette represents a range of options, and a scroll bar appears on rollover, allowing users to quickly view other options of that type. A running total of the cost is displayed at the bottom. “It managed to make the process of building shelves enjoyable because it was so simply presented and easy to use,” said Hirschfeld. Once the user is satisfied with the design and configuration, he or she can print the diagram, save it as a PDF, or submit it for review and a final price quote.
The High Line
The High Line is a section of old railroad track that runs above the streets of the Meatpacking District in lower Manhattan. Neglected for years, it’s become covered over by wildflowers and rust. A few years ago, developers threatened to tear it down, and a group of local residents, architects, and designers took up the cause. This site for “Friends of the High Line” by PS New York details plans to turn the tracks into a public park. The site features photographs of the tracks (which are currently off-limits to the public), as well as maps and information about how the space will be used. “It’s easy to navigate and the contrasting use of black-and-white and color photography is elegant,” said Hirschfeld.
Limited Brands Investor Annual
If you want to make designers whimper, just whisper “corporate annual report.” If you want to reduce them to tears, tell them it has to be online. That’s why Resource Interactive’s site for Limited Brands is an act of personal courage as well as professional skill. “It’s one of the better uses of type we’ve seen,” said Stowell. The designers took advantage of the simple, linear structure of the page-by-page progression and added a little razzle-dazzle by using creative fades, videos, and interactive graphs.
Favorite Website Awards
The FWA is an index of almost 40,000 winning websites that date back to 2000. The Knebworth, England-based proprietors choose daily, weekly, and yearly winners, as well as a “People’s Choice Award.” The site, designed by Jason Hickner of Seattle-based Hornall Anderson Design Works, also includes profiles of designers and firms, interviews, articles, and wallpapers. In addition to the content, the site was interesting to the jurors because it is an infinitely scalable Flash-based portal that functions like an application. Users can sort using numerous filters and also personalize the site. “It’s a great use of Flash technology,” said Davis, the Flash guru.
The Sith Sense
Designed by Firstborn for Crispin Porter + Bogusky’s “Star Wars at Burger King” campaign, this website challenges visitors to a battle of wits with Lord Vader. The user is invited to think of an object, and Lord Vader will guess it within 20 questions. The site provoked mixed reactions from the panel. “The first time I picked a squirrel,” said Davis, “and he didn’t guess it. The second time he did guess the object, but it took, like, 10 minutes. And after all that, what was the payoff? Nothing. I at least should have gotten a free burger.” Stowell reported stumping the Dark Lord with a ham sandwich. But the goofiness of the game had some value: “It was the only entry that made me laugh out loud,” said Hirschfeld. In the end, the jury panel felt the concept’s originality was worth recognizing.
Hot Spot Conservation Lab
The Hot Spot Conservation Lab, designed by Gyroscope for the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, has a large, clearly structured interface to allow kids to navigate complex information about insects, animals, and plants without getting overwhelmed or confused. The jurors thought the site managed to be engaging without falling back on hokey animations, but the highlight was the clear resin disks embedded with real-life specimens of the object of study. Kids navigate the system by placing these disks on the display itself, activating the various options. “Giving kids a sense of scale and proportion and being able to see actual examples makes the whole experience come alive,” said Hirschfeld.
This portfolio site for and by Studio Mobile Interactive Design, best known for its children’s games, uses colorful crosses that serve both as decorative elements and navigation tools. The simple visual icons contrast well with the black-and-white illustrated animations. But the jurors’ favorite component was a “signature game” called Fourtris, played using the arrow keys to spin a cross. Similar to Tetris, the goal is to link up with other crosses; in this case, the links should be made with crosses of the same color. “I like the game,” said Stowell. “It’s fun to play,” enthused Hirschfeld, who kept right on doing it.
The Art of Odilon Redon
The first screen of Behavior’s website for the Museum of Modern Art exhibition on artist Odilon Redon shows three overlapping blocks of text that fade in on rollover. The mysterious effect of the ghostly white text on a black background fits well with the eerie work of the French symbolist painter, whose subjects included a descent into hell. “The interface is very elegant, as is the typography,” said Stowell. The jurors were less impressed with subsequent pages. “They don’t follow up—maybe because they have to accommodate so much information on detail pages,” said Hirschfeld. “It has one very nice moment.”
Second Story’s exploration of Thomas Jefferson’s plantation home, Monticello, offers a fantastic amount of detail about the structure and surroundings—from a 3-D walk-through of the main building to topographic maps that show the location of the slave quarters, fields, and barns. An interactive timeline allows users to see how the plantation expanded and developed as Jefferson endeavored to create his model society on a Virginia hilltop. The emphasis on visual materials made the site a little slow to load, and the jurors thought that the exploration of objects and architecture overshadowed the stories of life on the plantation. “The site is very well executed,” said Davis, “but it doesn’t quite succeed in telling a story like you’d hope.”
Red Bull Copilot: Downhill
Downhill is the latest installation in a series of high-octane websites designed by Odopod to promote the energy drink Red Bull (in last year’s competition, Air Race, another such game, won a Design Distinction). This time, the death-defying feat is downhill skiing. Like the other sites, Downhill allows users to experience the race through course maps, racer profiles, and a choice of multiple camera angles and soundtracks. The dashboard is also a holdover from previous sites that featured motocross and airplane racing. It includes speed, wind speed, slope angle, and lateral G-force monitors. Although this site follows the same trope as the others, it’s hard not to get caught up in the action. “What can I say. It’s exciting,” said Hirschfeld.