by Rob Ford
We're halfway through the year, and I'm beginning to wonder if we have seen the site of the year for 2009. We have identified some amazing sites already, but I'm not convinced any of them has been site-of-the-year quality yet. When I receive a submission via the FWA website or a link from a friend or co-worker that blows me away, I wonder if that will be the one. That's why we work with such an exciting medium. You never know what each new day will bring on the web. And I love being part of it.
Now I'll let you decide for yourself if this issue's sites are contenders for site of the year.
Site by Herraiz Soto & Co.
I don't often get to see a truly experimental work of this quality. This site is essentially an interactive music video that enables you to draw the music by using your mouse cursor. The beat of the music dictates at which point certain experimental events occur, which makes this such an addictive site. Even if the music is not your style, I urge you to stay with it. If you can make it to the end, you'll be rewarded with a plethora of visual delights and surprises.
Site by Megalo(s)
I feel old when I look at this site because Lacoste was in fashion when I was a teenager. The second time around I'm not sure if I am cool enough to wear these threads anymore. This site uses some really great video and special effects to bring an ever-changing experience. It also offers several well-executed and addictive mini games. The cut scenes you see as each section loads are totally in your face, but that's half the fun of this site. Choose your style and play with the models. The crocodile is well and truly back.
Puma has launched a new shoe, the Puma Lift, which weighs a mere 173 grams (or just over 6 ounces), and on this promotional site, you get the chance to see if a girl or a guy will strip for you. You might wonder what the connection is, but it's quite simple. When you choose an item of clothing on the girl, for example, she takes off that item and puts it on a scale to see if the item is lighter or heavier than the lightweight shoe. This is good fun, amazing execution, and an almost guaranteed way to keep users on the site as they strive to see some flesh. Whatever you do, when you get to the Undress Me bubble, don't click it.
Many of you will remember the video fly-though experience of Halo 3 Believe from 2007. Well, Philips has taken this a step further with a cinematic experience. This impressive promotional site for the world's first cinematic proportion TV is immediately intriguing because users feel like they have been dropped into the middle of a major incident. With "baddies" dressed as clowns and police everywhere, the deliberately slow-moving video experience has numerous hotspots that take the experience to another level. Take a moment to explore everything. You won't be disappointed.
Site by Night Agency
The idea of this site is that you get to design your own hoodie and then enter it in a contest. The winning design will be produced by Champion Athletic wear. By the time you read this article, the competition may be closed, but you can still view the gallery and design your own hoodie for fun. Numerous sites have a similar theme, but this is one of the best examples of the design-your-own genre I have ever seen. Using simple drag-and-drop navigation, it's really easy to make cool or even uncool street wear. If you don't have the time or inclination to make your own hoodie, check out the gallery for an array of creations from other users.
Enter Steve's Awesomeness Testing Facility. As you enter the site, Steve will likely be doing something strange — at the moment he is doing push-ups. To get his attention, click Alert Steve. You can put Steve through several challenges, including charming a snake or riding a mechanical bear. The seamless integration of gaming fun and video is well executed and exudes the character of the brand. So, what are you waiting for? Take on the three challenges and see if you can discover Steve's NESTEA-fueled powers. Oh, and have you ever seen hamsters playing the electric guitar before?
Create your own character and meet other users. That sounds a bit boring these days, doesn't it? Well, this site is anything but boring. The way you create your own character is clever. First, select one of three symbols. Then drag over and adjust eight simple moves on your symbol to develop your own unique character. You then enter a truly colorful world and begin looking for four hidden clues to unveil a special surprise.
In a town where possibilities are never-ending and where the squirrels play guitar, I'm sure you could lose yourself for quite some time. On this site, you can create your own dream room, and you could even move into it. The wonderfully animated look and feel of this site will bring out your creativity. If you're in a hurry, just check out the featured room or watch the creative commercials because you can't leave this site without experiencing those squirrels.
Well, one thing is for sure: I bet you had no idea when you started reading this article that I would show you sites that had squirrels and hamsters playing guitar. As with all things in life, you never know what's around the next corner. Your next endeavor could be your most exciting. Life is full of twists and turns, much like the Labuat site we visited at the beginning of this article. Just remember: You can make your real-life and online adventures as interesting as you want them to be.
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.