With some websites now celebrating their tenth birthday, Design Week asked a selection of influential people involved in on-line design to nominate their favourite Web design. This is what they said…
Ranzie Anthony, Creative partner, Tonic
www.leoburnett.ca – designed by Toronto office of sister company Arc Worldwide
IT’S an interesting time to be talking about favourite websites, as the whole on-line world seems to be in transition. The criteria for great websites have changed significantly over the past few years. As well as aesthetic design treatment, the creative use of narrative, interaction and moving images are just as important to the overall result.
A site on my bookmark list is Leo Burnett’s Canadian website. Not only is it conceptually strong, but the simplicity of the design execution and engaging interaction place it among my favourites. However, with the speed at which technology is changing, I’ll undoubtedly have a totally new favourites list in a very short while.
Simon Waterfall, Creative director, Poke
www.volkswagen.se/nyapassat/ – designed by Daddy
It’s so difficult to pick just one site – it’s like eating just one Pringle. But, for satisfaction in a design world, I do love what Daddy is doing in Sweden. It’s a small team with a load of talent and its work is consistently clean, sharp-witted and has a beautiful polish. Check out its site (www.daddy.se) for the anti-snuff campaign it ran in Sweden, or the Passat site which blows away most TV ads. It’s just what the Web should do, in a category that is usually awful.
Desiree Collier, Creative director, Authority Design
www.stereophonics.com – designed by Outside Line
The Stereophonics site was comprehensively redesigned last year to support the release of their fifth studio album, Language. Sex. Violence. Other? The new design brilliantly blends the multi-hued stylings of the album artwork with a surprisingly user-friendly and intuitive navigation. Minimalist in tone (reflecting the stripped-down sound of the record itself), the site, nevertheless, contains a dazzling variety of content to explore. This is all presented in a way that rewards exploration without sacrificing usability, aided greatly by the colour scheme that grabs the visitor’s attention from the very start, and striking graphics throughout. Very few sites manage to blend innovation and brand faithfulness, content and presentation or depth and simplicity, with this degree of success.
Simon Sankarayya, Art director, All of Us
www.heinz.se – designed by Daddy
Whether it’s a meal for a financially-challenged student, who has managed to scrape together 35p from the back of the sofa, a late night rave snack or simply a bit of comfort food, we all have some level of fondness for Heinz’s products.
On-line, the love hasn’t quite been extended, apart from in Sweden. In the land of meatballs, we find a site that’s in a league of its own. Undeniably simple, appropriate, considered and bold, the site has an inherent ‘weight’ that you rarely find nowadays and which is very hard to achieve on-screen. The products are left to shine, as the heroes that they are, with great details like ‘sauce’ loaders. Oh, did I just click on a highlight ‘star’ and get sent to Ebay with a prepopulated ‘Heinz’ search? The confidence to let the passion for the brand come from the public’s love of Heinz-related paraphernalia is a master stroke. Charming, odd and simple, with well-edited content, I’ve finally found a marketing site that doesn’t stink of over-constructed cleverness (or subservient chicken). I was, for once, happy, in the kind of way that beans on toast, with cheese, makes you happy.
Mark Swift, Interactive designer, Airside
www.saturday-london.com – designed by Poke
Over the past year, I have seen the majority of Flash sites move in two distinct directions. First, there has been a large rise in the number of sites using video. Websites such as Ikea Dream Kitchen and Vodafone’s Future Vision have great production values, shot to a very high standard. Then there are the click-move-scale sites, with a range of new and intuitive interactions – the essence of the modern photographer’s site.
Both directions have seen some great sites produced over the past year. But, for me, the one that has delivered the most is the site created by Poke for the London brand and advertising agency Saturday. Its simplicity and fluidity in navigation, alongside a seamless loading technique, makes this site a pleasure to explore. Where many sites before have used this popular move-zoom technique, but without conviction or depth, the Saturday site indulges and entices you to explore all the work the site has in store. It also offers great scalability for updating the content with its colour-coding device.
Saturday’s site achieves simple playfulness, while maintaining ease of use and high speed content access. The end result is a benchmark for what other minimal design sites should strive to achieve.
Neil Churcher, Academic director, Interaction Design Institute Ivrea, Milan
www.we-make-money-not-art.com – designed by Max Paccagnella
Hurrah for the Blog. The recent phenomenon of self-publication has really saved the Internet from being swamped by corporate banality. Easy to set up, Blogs initially spawned a glut of personal diaries. But now Blogging is a richer world and a more accessible read. Crucially, Blog readers can post comments or link articles to their own Blogs, setting up a culture of debate and reference, circling around issues of mutual interest, known as the Blogosphere. Information, as a social phenomenon, is interesting for design, and not just because it hints at how most content will be managed in our techno-near future.
A great Blog is Régine Debatty’s We-Make-Money-Not-Art, which is a constant stream of information on arts, electronic media and strange computing things. Debatty is an avid hunter-gatherer, so the site is her big, personal scrapbook of information about robots, augmented reality and Radio Frequency technology, delivered with a touch of wit, that turned the site into a cult favourite with design techies. It’s also a departure point for linking to an interesting community of Bloggers. You can literally join in the debate from here.
Ajaz Ahmed, Co-founder and chairman, AKQA
http://news.bbc.co.uk – designed in-house
The BBC’s news site is intuitive, interesting and logical. It feels like something in between a newspaper and TV broadcast, but better than both. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into the site architecture and design, so that the site never comes across as overwhelming, despite its huge depth. The result is an indispensable experience for millions of visitors. The lack of on-line advertising is also a major benefit. One small criticism is that, while it does a great job of integrating text and graphics, the video integration could be more elegant.
Anthony Dunne, Professor of interaction design, Royal College of Art
www.sandberg.nl – designed by Luna Maurer
I really like this site, but make sure the speaker volume is turned up. At first glance, it looks a bit dull and stiff, but, once you start to explore, a more playful side emerges. It clicks and beeps and becomes almost tactile. You can nearly feel each line as you cross it, the elasticity of each box as it opens and closes, and the invisible force fields they each enclose. Its Geiger-counter clicks give it a slightly sinister feel, which I like too, and it is functional, providing information about courses, staff and students. Its designer, a former Sandberg student, has successfully combined practicality and playfulness, creating a restrained, but enjoyable site – a very special and rare thing these days, when so many sites scream for attention and try so hard to impress.