I think 2012 will always be remembered as the year we hit the reset button on the web. After a decade of amazing creativity, we finally accepted that the digital landscape had changed as mobile devices and tablets fragmented the Internet world we had all grown up in together.
I must be honest and say there was a time when I did worry about what had happened because it felt like developers had thrown away 10+ years of insights and innovation. However, now I feel that the creative playing field has matured rather quickly. Designers and developers are back to focusing on making inspiring sites that work across devices — yet sometimes it’s also cool to make websites that require a plug-in purely for an amazing desktop experience.
The eclectic mix of experiences I highlight in this issue proves my point.
This is an absolutely stunning production for Walt Disney World. Click at the top of the page to enter and then let your childhood memories, or that child within you, take over. Explore the many character icons and try to break each curse. The introductory animated sequences are absolutely gorgeous and make exploring this site to its fullest well worth your time. It’s been ages since I have seen such a beautifully crafted website.
I always wished I had learned to play an instrument when I was younger. Anyone who wishes they had too will love this interactive web application which lets you and your friends, or anyone else online at the same time, play and create music together. What’s great is that each instrument has two modes, Easy and Pro. I’d definitely recommend Easy for first-time users (this is the default anyway). You can use your mouse and also your number keys to jam away. You can even chat with other people online at the same time, or even invite a friend to join you on a musical creation.
Every once in a while I see something online that puts a smile on my face. This project did just that but for two reasons. First, this game was created by 10-year-olds for 10-year-olds from the remote Aboriginal community of Ieramugadu (Roebourne) in the Australian desert. Second, the quirky and personality-packed game is just so original that it makes me realize that we must embrace the next generations far more in the digital space as they can certainly teach us a thing or two with their unadulterated imaginations. At FWA, we actually awarded this project a Site of the Day and sent the kids an award certificate. You can see them and their excitement at winning. I don’t know who was more excited, they or I!
I am a big advocate of experimental work. It is the experimental minds of the world that shape the future. Making something and then breaking it and putting it back together can give unexpected results and sometimes something better than the original. This project, a VJing experience that blends heavyweight motion graphics and effects with big beats, really pushes technological boundaries. A year ago I would never have believed such a project could be created in WebGL so I was very pleased to see what can be created right now. What’s also extra impressive is that you can live synch your iPad to the desktop version and then use that as a controller.
Field is an HTML5 audiovisual experiment powered by movement. Use your keyboard and mouse to create new sounds and visual effects and try experimenting by holding down keys and scrolling. Also, I would recommend going full-screen with this experience. It's really something else when it takes over your browser. If you get a bit stuck, click on the keyboard icon, at top left; that will give you hints on what to do. This project was inspired by Nike+ Fuelband and was a collaboration with the highly acclaimed electronic music producer, Nosaj Thing.
This is an immense project. I can only imagine the amount of work that went into creating a project like this. Clouds Over Cuba is an interactive multimedia documentary from the JFK Library which marked the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. You are encouraged to navigate the crisis in full detail, including a thought-provoking fictional “what if” scenario. If you’d like more insight on how a project of this size and caliber comes together, read the making-of article.
This very fast and slick website shows us how to keep things simple and sharp using the latest web technologies. It's the official website for the Grammy Award-winning recording artist, Dubfire. I love how it uses subtle movement to create a progressive look and feel. The sharp use of typography gives this an extra innovative edge as well. This is a glimpse of a new wave of websites we’ll most likely be seeing in 2013 and a refreshing break from the uncreative scrolling sites that began to plague screens in 2012.
I come from a generation which knew the Snickers bar as a "Marathon." In fact, just thinking of that name again brings to mind the ad from the 1980s. (Bear with me while I jump over to YouTube to watch it: nostalgia right here.) Snickers really impressed me with their new responsive website. I love the big feel this site has with great imagery that gets you as close to tasting a bar as is possible when looking at a screen. Seeing a bar of Snickers take over my 23-inch monitor is something I haven’t seen before. I bet other brands will be looking at this feat with envy. There’s just a look and feel about this site that really hits the mark for me.
I want to finish my overview with this quite simple website — but one that makes a huge impact. Open this site and then scroll. Without spoiling things for you, I’ll just let you look and see for yourself. This is yet another example of not needing a huge amount of budget or time to make something that people remember. I often hear people saying how unfair it is that agencies tend to win more awards because they always have big clients and big budgets. I will always say that it’s the idea that is big, not the client or the budget.
Back in the early 1990s I can remember how my friends and I used to share games to play on our Amiga 500s. That’s all that personal computers were realistically used for in those days. It’s amazing how the likes of Windows 95 changed everything — especially for me, as I was set on a locomotive, an unstoppable one at that, which would see me spend more than 15 years looking for amazing digital projects. As each year passes, I wonder if I will still be able to talk about great work in every issue of Inspire Magazine. One thing is for sure, there is no lack of imagination out there and certainly no lack of skills either. I remain in awe of the creative industry and the relentless ability to deliver amazing work every day of each year. The question is, when will this pace let up? Will it ever? Hopefully not.
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.