Feeling fine

Design Week asked some senior figures from the digital media scene to suggest examples of Web design that they admired. While some went for the functional and usable, others went for the quirky and joyfully pointless

Daljit Singh, Creative director, Digit
www.joost.com Designed in-house

Joost, previously known as The Venice Project, is the brainchild of Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, the team behind Skype. Joost is essentially a new way to watch television content on your computer; it has a simple interface and it works free of schedules. The company has signed content deals with some of the big TV studios, and carries material created by amateurs and enthusiasts as well as professionals. It’s all overlaid with some clever features that help you find and watch content, chat with friends and even create your own TV channels. I think this really could be the first, true Web 2.0 project.

Andrew Gorman, Creative director, Radley Yeldar
www.marumushi.com/apps/newsmap Designed by Marcos Weskamp

This website takes the headlines from Google news and visually maps them in order of importance, based on the number of people looking at each headline. Story types are categorised by colour and size. You can search the stories by country and type, and the site constantly changes, revealing the patterns of our interest in the news. In these target-obsessed times where everything has to be rationalised and justified, it’s lovely that this site serves no functional purpose. It’s simply the result of someone categorising our interest in ever-changing, easily available, fascinating content to create visual patterns.

Andy Hobsbawm, Chairman, Agency.com
www.senduit.com Designed by Davidville

Senduit.com is a magnificently simple interface that ‘does exactly what it says on the tin’. It’s clean, functional and beautiful, and reminds me of the classic Google homepage or Apple interface designs. Not so much ‘less is more’, but, as Milton Glaser puts it, ‘just enough is more’. In a similar vein, I also like the no-nonsense, blog-style, functional utility of www.mysociety.org sites like www.pledgebank.com and www.writetothem.com. By way of contrast, surely the most pointless interface in the history of interactive design must be Microsoft’s search engine ‘with a human face’, www.msdewey.com – words fail me.

Ranzie Anthony, Creative director, Tonic
www.wefeelfine.org Designed by Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar

Essentially, this is a Java applet that picks up live data from blogs based on how people are feeling. It allows you to filter it in different ways. As a piece of work it embodies many of the key elements that make a good piece of digital design. A strong concept, visually intriguing, great interaction and a clever use of technology. It’s a website I’ve been back to a few times.

Mat Cook, Design director, Intro
www.entrances2hell.co.uk Designed by JH Irvine

Most, if not all of the sites I browse on a regular basis, are not designed at all. I would be suspicious if they were, as the Internet works best for me when it is handmade and quirky, the product of one individual’s thought process. It’s a strange, mysterious place. Entraces2hell.co.uk is a place that just makes me laugh. Enjoy it.

Neil Svensen, Chief executive, Rufus Leonard
www.skype.com Designed in-house

You have to consider a lot of things when suggesting any digital medium that really makes a difference (and catches your eye). Usability is obviously the most important, but the look of the site, the quality of the content, how long you need to interact with it and what it gives you back are all critical. All these factors are clearly demonstrated in Skype’s new website. I recently got a new laptop and decided to download and install Skype. The last time I did this was about 18 months ago and it was a difficult experience, so my expectations were low. However, the experience couldn’t have been better, the instructions were extremely clear, the download time was minimal and it was installed quickly and without fuss. I think it took five minutes for my kids to be ‘Skyping’ their friends in Australia. Now that’s what I call good digital design.

Jane Walker, Senior creative director, Red Bee Media
www.jonathanyuen.com Designed by Jonathan Yuen

If you are looking for a moment of calm in the middle of a frantic day, check out Jonathan Yuen’s website. This lovely piece of work is simple and poetic, almost Zen-like. It may not have been the trickiest brief to crack, but this portfolio site, which showcases the designer’s talent, is special, very personal and refreshingly original. It does what all really good design should do: it makes you feel something – and it certainly made me smile. In summary, it has brilliant intuitive navigation, stunning black-and-white illustrations, good use of music, fluid animation style that really pushes the boundaries of flash-based design and is beautifully observed. What more can I say?

Ajaz Ahmed, Co-founder and chairman, AKQA
Sky Plus Designed in-house.

Sky Plus is capable of delivering multimedia-on-demand reality to everyone with a computer, mobile and TV. You can bring up the TV schedule on your mobile and record programmes using Sky Plus while you are on-the-go. Sky Anytime also lets you download films, sports and other programmes on to your laptop so you can watch them when you like. Everything is pretty, easy to use and – best of all – Sky Plus actually works. The future of TV is clearly not based around a programme schedule, but around watching what you want, when you want to, using the device you want to see it on.

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