by Rob Ford
While watching the Olympics in August, I was continually amazed by the emotion created by the ability to succeed. Many of those athletes tirelessly trained day in and day out for most of their lives to essentially win just one race. As I get older, I feel that emotion when I see people achieve their goals, and that emotion is not just reserved for competitive sports. In all walks of life, we see human endeavor and strife, but seeing someone overcome and succeed is something I can relate to. I'm sure many of you can, too.
But what does that have to do with websites? Well, quite simply put, we all look at things in everyday life and take them on face value. It's so easy to forget the blood, sweat, and tears that go into almost everything around us, and websites are no exception.
So, while browsing this fine selection I have chosen for you in this installment, spare a moment for the small details and the overall impact of each site. Nearly everything you see has been crafted with the utmost dedication. It's easy to think or dream of a successful website, but making it happen is a whole different story.
From the moment this site starts loading, you know you are in for something special. The loader itself has to be one of the most creative I've seen.
Enter the site and you will see five audio leads hanging from the top of the screen and a choice of Nokia phones below. Now, choose a phone, grab a lead, and plug it in. Even though I'm into breaks and beats these days, I recommend the middle lead: the Animal Rocker.
Now that you are rocking out to Motorhead's "The Ace of Spades" and some nice flames are emanating from the phone, look up and click Move Up. That's where the real fun begins.
Site by BrandStudio
This is what I call a luxury website, even though I would love to see the intro movie at a higher quality. For those of you who remember http://dontclick.it, you'll enjoy this site because the navigation is all about where you point your mouse, without clicking. Some people may wonder why an agency would design a site for a large brand and audience where you are not allowed to click your mouse.
Well, the answer is simple: This site was built to emulate the idea of the RX 350 TV campaign, which shows a vehicle that adapts to the driver. In turn, this website adapts to you and your movements.
The site is in Russian, but it is still easy and fun to surf, and the quality of images and slick site movement are first class.
I have to tip my Diesel cap to Grzegorz and team for this delightful and addictive game — one of the best since Samorost. The story behind the game is that you must rescue Dr. Esculap, who has been missing for five years. It's a point, click, and interact adventure that is habit-forming and charming at the same time.
Make sure you watch the video about how they made Pencil Rebel on YouTube. This is exactly the type of dedication I was talking about in the introduction. I hope we see more from this group in the future.
Site by Hello Monday
It's been a while since I have seen some innovative navigation ideas, so I was really excited when Red Issue hit my inbox. This site has a rare intro page, one you actually have to absorb because you need to use your mouse to draw a shape to enter the site.
Once you enter the site, you again use your mouse to draw different shapes to make the site work in certain ways. You can also use your keyboard. You can click the Help button to find all the ways to navigate.
I have already read some forum posts about this site. Some people love it, but others think this type of navigation is risky for the client's target audience. No matter which side of the debate you are on, the navigation is clever, and it can only help to inspire us.
Site by AKQA
AKQA seems to have a knack for creating some of the best massive campaigns. This is actually its fifth FWA Site of the Month award winner, which inducted the agency into the FWA Hall of Fame.
Over the years, Nike Lab has had many incarnations, some of which were tremendously creative and experimental. In recent years, there's been a lull, but now the site is back, and it's bigger than ever. The visuals are gorgeous, but don't focus on those alone. This site has an enormous amount of content that has been seamlessly woven into a slick and manageable environment. I imagine the stats counter on this site must have been smoking for weeks because it was launched just in time for the Olympics.
Army recruitment in the U.K. uses some very creative methods — maybe they are necessary. We also recently saw the Swedish Armed Forces getting creative.
This site for the Royal Netherlands Air Force features superb interactive 3D combined with video, quality animations, and the perfect ambient sound and effects, making it an intriguing place to surf. You can even get up close with the F-16 Falcon and play several games that can easily consume your time.
Site by Interone
I think we can all agree that corporate information, facts, and figures are about as boring as life gets, unless you are a fund manager or investment banker. I'd rather read a novel than browse a company's website to learn more about how it runs its business.
This site has to be one of the most exciting ways to display corporate information. Again, we can see a huge amount of information, but the smooth navigation, delightful animations, and intuitive usability make it so much fun to explore.
I wonder what the directors of DHL think of this site? I hope they appreciate how special it is.
Site by JWT Brazil
This is not just another dull car site. On this creative beauty, you can explore the new KA in ways you never realized you could explore a car. First, transform yourself into an insect. You don't have to, but you should. Then fly around to a foot-tapping tune and explore. And make sure you grab your pillow and fight like a real insect. Seriously.
Site by Mercedes-AMG
Here is the last site for this installment, and it's another car website. This is actually a contentious website. When we awarded this site as an FWA Site of the Day, we received e-mail complaining about our choice. We have a three-tier judging system in place with 18 judges, so we really do try our best to get it right every day, but you can't please everyone.
This site has been called too simple, but let's just ask ourselves what it is trying to achieve. It's trying to sell a car, and I just bought one after seeing this site — just like I bought the Audi R8 after seeing its site. This site sells the Mercedes by showcasing its beauty and sparing us the smaller details.
So, there you have it, another batch of amazing sites that many of us can only dream of creating. It's that dream though that keeps us all striving for great things. It's that dream that saw Michael Phelps win eight gold medals in one Olympics. It's that dream that makes us all crave more out of life. And it's that dream that makes us all want more after one dream is realized. We all have greatness within us. Some start following their dreams at a young age, while others spend years figuring out what their dreams are. I hope you are working toward yours.
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.