by Rob Ford
Before I sat down to write this column, I had a bit of fun with Twitter and asked those following me to name one site they thought I should mention in this edition of my column. It was nice to see so many recommendations for sites I had already penciled in. I am always acutely aware when writing these columns that my choices might not be to everyone's taste, but I do try my best to pick out sites that have a little something that will appeal to the masses — even if that is an original idea or just amazing production levels.
Anyway, here we go.
Site by BooneOakley
This is what BooneOakley had to say about its site: "We needed a new way to tell our story. So we made our website one, using the best storytelling platform we could think of: YouTube."
Some might say that making an agency website completely within YouTube is too risky, but the stats already prove otherwise with more than 400,000 views in a matter of weeks. This site consists of several video clips hooked together by YouTube's framework and uses the new ability to click links in an actual video to its advantage. Also, we mustn't forget the personality of this presence, which clearly shows another level of creativity within the team.
This site quickly spread by word of mouth and had me dashing about trying to find out who made it. For the last couple years, I have highlighted many UNIQLO promo sites, and here's another great example. In fact, I just don't know how this company can continue with such originality — each new launch seems to have another clever idea.
This site uses 1,000 random people on the streets of Tokyo who take an item of clothing from their right, wear it for a moment (and often do something interesting), and then pass it to their left. By lining up all the clips, we get the sense of an assembly line of people passing clothes to one another. This is wonderful stuff. And as always, it has a catchy tune, too.
This one has been called a widget and also a microsite, but whatever it is, it's groundbreaking in my opinion. This site aims to demonstrate the power of Sprint's network by linking a huge number of data streams that change by the second, and features data from babies being born to a live cam of Niagara Falls. Can you say information overload? Never.
I believe this site also populated ads across the web. You'll certainly find this a mesmerizing experience. I can easily imagine some of you being overwhelmed with it, but it's a fascinating experience that I'm sure you'll never forget.
Site by Sartoria Comunicazione
Nike uses stop motion video to showcase its 2009 sportswear collection. The full-screen video and trendy music help set the stage for this upfront site. What I particularly like is the fact that we have a number of different people to follow, and we find out a bit about their lifestyle.
Naturally, throughout you get to explore many of Nike's clothes, and a simple click takes you back to the full experience. This seamless action is something that seems obvious, but so many e-commerce sites prefer to pop you into a new window, which makes for a disjointed experience. Overall, this is a site with personality and style, and it's well made, too.
You can tell from the number of agencies listed in the credits that this is a big production. This site is an awareness campaign for the Canadian Center on Substance Abuse. In summary, it's about recreational drugs and is aimed at teenagers. Users get to experiment with drugs via a disembodied eyeball named Earl. Earl is your guinea pig and lets you choose a drug as well as its effect.
The visuals of the eye are superb, and combined with a slightly fun way of looking at things, it must hit home with the audience. This site offers plenty of good information, and it is great to see an approach that is not stifled with scaremongering.
Site by Sevenedge
Music festivals have always had a colorful reputation, right down to the often amazing pieces of art that become flyers to promote them. This promotional site for a major festival in Belgium is certainly no exception — it's complete eye candy.
Strap on the backpack and take to the skies. With lots of different and exciting cut scenes, users are encouraged to explore all areas of this site. Even if you are not part of the target audience, I can guarantee that you'll love the visual prowess of this site.
Site by BrandStudio
Have you ever experienced the future of forward living? Here is your chance. On this site for the Lexus RX 350, you can't enter as you'd expect to — you need to travel forward in time. I'm not joking. If you have never time-traveled before, then this is your chance. And believe me when I say that this ability is within all of us.
I'll say no more. Just follow the instructions on-screen if you become puzzled by what to do.
Site by Pixelcase
A great way to finish this column is with an aerial tour of New York. An amazing set of aerial panoramas was converted to a multiresolution virtual tour that makes for a breathtaking way to travel this great city. Using your mouse or the on-screen controls, you can simply navigate New York and take in the sights. Enjoy views such as the Empire State Building, Times Square, the Brooklyn Bridge, and more.
In a world where we just can't slow down and enjoy the ride, it's nice to see how our lives are often reflected online. While writing this article and trying to be 100% focused, I have been checking e-mail on my other monitor, checking Twitter, and listening to some streaming music. I can never imagine a bestselling author working this way, but this is a true reflection of 21st century life.
I think this column highlights many aspects of present-day living with sites like Sprint's Now showing us our ravenous hunger for information, while the aerial tour of New York shows us how calm and tranquil life can be.
I think I just had a moment.
Rob Ford founded The FWA Network in May 2000 and since then the network has received over 150 million visits. The FWA Network showcases projects that use cutting edge technology for desktop, mobile and offline, together with showcases for photography as well as video. Rob is also the author of three bestselling books of web and mobile. Check out The FWA Network.