It does seem that everyone, including the big brands, is launching lots of creative tools right now as we all try to figure out which direction to take in this ever-changing interactive world. Amazing experiences are still being launched every day, and here's a selection of the best of the last few months.
Is this the future of online retailing? This is, without doubt, a must see. If you struggle with the language barrier, at least watch the video demo reel of the site. This is a live shopping experience where the user speaks one on one via webcam with a telecom operator from the mobile company 3. While interacting in real time, the operator can show you mobile phone options and discuss them with you. The most impressive part of this is the touchscreen hardware they are using to make this happen.
To see the video reel demonstration of this site, visit www.thefwa.com/site/3liveshop and click REEL.
YouTube takeovers are not new, but the stand-out examples are few and far between. This recent experience for Desperados beer is special in that it hooks into your Facebook account and makes for a unique personalized experience. You can use the YouTube controls to move from the kitchen to a rave and then await the surprise. What I particularly like about this experience is that you actually interact with the controls rather than sitting back and watching.
To see the video reel demonstration of this site, visit www.thefwa.com/site/the-desperados-experience and click REEL.
Site by Achtung!
This is the first LinkedIn connect site I have seen. It's a collaboration between LinkedIn and Volkswagen. The idea is simple: connect to your LinkedIn profile and then challenge your connections to see who has the strongest LinkedIn profile as well as the biggest ego. You'll go head to head with your chosen opponent in various rounds, using data from your profile, including education, recommendations, and so forth. The end result is that you'll end up with a bigger head than your losing opponent, or vice versa. The idea is well executed, but I find it even more interesting to see how LinkedIn connect sites can develop from here.
To see the video reel demonstration of this site, visit www.thefwa.com/site/passat-linkeduit and click REEL.
The web has gone crazy for social networking, and brands of all sizes are embracing that trend wherever they can. Porsche has not only been innovative in this regard but also creative. This site is built on a mosaic of Porsche owner–submitted content, and the idea is to subsequently showcase the way that Porsche is engineered for magic every day. This site's quality in design and visual appeal is top-notch and reaffirms the quality we associate with the Porsche brand. Many brands have jumped on social media yet failed to keep focus on their own brand values. This visually stunning site shows other top brands how to embrace social trends intelligently.
To see the video reel demonstration of this site, visit www.thefwa.com/site/porsche-everyday and click REEL.
John Lewis is one of the U.K.'s leading retail businesses. This department store delivers quality products and great customer service, and the company obviously likes to stay on the cutting edge. This site enables users to choose from 10 million music tracks, which, in turn, cause a live installation house to turn the lights on and off to the beat of the music. This website gives users the chance to experience an online version of the real-world example that was set up on the banks of the Thames in London. This is a great example of how more and more experiences are now online as well as offline.
To see the video reel demonstration of this site, visit www.thefwa.com/site/harmony and click REEL.
Site by unit9
If you have never been to Bali, this site is about as close as you can get without leaving home. This high-quality production uses more than 180 interlinked audio files and HD videos with accompanying maps and commentary. This site really does allow you to zoom in close to many of the historic parts of this Balinese temple — so close you almost feel like you're really there. While this site is a heavy load, you'll soon appreciate that the high quality of video and audio is well worth it.
To see the video reel demonstration of this site, visit www.thefwa.com/site/the-bali-temple-explorer and click REEL.
Let's finish up with another first of its kind. This site is all about navigating purely with sound. It's an innovative 3D sound experience that uses a bespoke, real-time binaural sound engine. Here's what happens: The French pop star, Jenifer, is playing live on stage and gets kidnapped. You need to rescue her, and you can only do this by using your hearing. I thought it could be a gimmick, but it actually only does work if you listen carefully, especially when you try to crack the code to enter a door. Again, this is a simple idea that's well executed, and the possibilities moving forward are huge.
To see the video reel demonstration of this site, visit www.thefwa.com/site/capture and click REEL.
What really impresses me about the current state of online experiences is that many brands, like the ones in this article, are taking the technology a step further and using amazing tools and technology to pioneer for the future.
One thing I have learned in the last 15 years is that users jump in on the new thing, whether that be free screensavers, joke sharing by email, social networking sites, etc. This 24/7 connected world we live in where people rarely daydream because every spare moment is spent looking at their smartphone is (in the long term) not healthy for creativity. Big ideas come from daydreaming, so make sure you disarm yourself of all devices at least occasionally so your brain can function as it needs to.
Rob Ford founded The FWA Network in May 2000. Since then, the network has received more than 150 million visits. The FWA Network showcases projects that use cutting-edge technology for desktop, mobile, and offline experiences, together with showcases for photography as well as video. Rob is also the author of three best-selling books on web and mobile. Check out The FWA Network.