by Rob Ford
I hope you are all refreshed after the holiday break. I am very excited about 2010. The new FWA website may be live by the time you read this column. I have spent the last two years planning the new site, and for the last few months I have been working closely with the team at group94 to realize the dream site. With 10 years' worth of content, it has been a massive task to pull everything together for the new FWA site. What impresses me the most about projects like this is that they bring people together. For example, we needed to take about 6,000 new screen shots of previous winners for the new FWA site — a task that was impossible without help. After a few tweets on Twitter, I soon had an army of volunteers, and the job was finished in no time.
I think this example underlines the power of communities and the Internet. Big brands crave that sort of enthusiasm but often fail to receive it. This is a testimony to the power of the individual as opposed to the size of a brand. Brands may have big budgets, but they often fail to engage those rare individuals who shape the future we all are destined to live in.
With those deep thoughts for the start of the new year, let's get back to business with a bevy of great sites.
ELSE is a new mobile communications company. Trying to break into a market with companies like Nokia and Vodafone must be next to impossible, so ELSE's promotional site had to be nothing short of amazing to attract attention. And it is amazing. Using the talent of Motion Director Rob Chiu, the site features a seriously impressive video intro that's loaded with motion graphics and special effects. The design and development team has certainly given this company its best shot at getting noticed on the world stage.
Site by The BIO Agency
I don't often feature agency websites in this column, but this is a can't-miss site. Personality shines on this quirky site — through a light bulb in the center of the screen. As brands the agency represents scroll along the bottom navigation, the light bulb shows the work the agency has done for each respective company. This is such a simple idea, but it is so creatively executed. Sit back and watch, or grab hold of the pull cord and give it a yank.
We are seeing more and more great photography websites these days, and this is one of the best I have seen for quite some time. The whole site is based on the characters the photographer has taken pictures of. As soon as you open the home page, you see a multitude of different faces. You will feel compelled to start clicking. What I particularly like is the way the images load in full size on either side of the screen. I haven't seen that done before.
Site by Tribal DDB London
"Who's smarter than who?" It's a battle of the sexes on this fun site for the Trivial Pursuit board game. The site has been cleverly pitched as a battle between men and women with two figures at the bottom of the screen, posing much like boxers would. At the top of the screen is the score. Just click a card and answer a question. If you answer correctly, you increase the score for your gender. As I write this, the women are currently winning.
I do like sites that display full-screen images. This particular site is for a hair and make-up expert. The clean and slick design enables you to easily browse the portfolio while also zooming in on images to get detailed close-ups. This type of site shows me that the designer and developer know exactly what they are doing. It is very fluid and polished indeed.
I am not the biggest fan of sites that use Facebook Connect because some campaigns have completely abused the Connect feature and taken over my Facebook wall. However, this really is a cool idea that enables you to connect with Facebook, Twitter, or MySpace. Once you do, this campaign analyzes your friends and then pitches a quiz so you can find out how well you know your friends. Featuring lovely visuals and based on a great idea, this site works like a charm.
Site by Less Rain
Let's finish with a site that should be a great holiday destination for all of us. The stunning photography and superb creative treats that often float down, almost as if they are outside of your monitor, make this a site you are bound to explore. This is another simple site that does what it needs to — it conveys the beautiful landscape and gives the information its target audience is looking for.
Some of the sites listed in this month's column show that you don't need to have a massive budget or reams of video or even bells and whistles to achieve the desired effect — which is to reach the target audience. Polish and precision are a combination that is often overlooked in an attempt by some to wow an audience. So in 2010, focus on what's best for your clients and their target audiences. It's all about hitting the bull's-eye rather than the jackpot.
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.