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Interactive Design Review

Interactive design competitions tend to focus on technology. This one was different. Entries in the category were notable not so much for technical advances as for changing the relationship between technology and the user. No longer passive recipients of information, users now co-create the interaction and become accomplices in their own seduction.

AIGA Design Archives
AIGA.ORG

Created by Second Story, the AIGA Design Archives catalogs the design organization’s competition selections and medalists since 2000. Entries are classified by keyword, collection, category, medium, and client industry, and consist
of images, a project description, and a complete credit list. The credits also function as an index, allowing visitors to cross-reference other projects by the same designers. With more than 1,000 entries, the archive provides students and practitioners with an unprecedented overview of the profession and an opportunity to compare work across media, The jury appreciated the site,s clean and efficient interface, which doesn’t compere with the work itself. we called it, a feature-rich archive of some of the best examples of design. It’s just fantastic.

The Machinery of Democracy
americanhistory.si.edu

Behavior’s site for the Smithsonian Institution about the history in the U.S. The interface juxtaposes old campaign buttons and images of civil rights and women’s suffrage struggle with modern information graphics, such as the red and blue map from the 2004 presidential election. Unlike the infamous Florida ballot, however, Vote is easy to navigate. Click on a content section, and the images fade away, revealing the underlying page structure with sections color-coded by subject. We liked that the site looks innovative even with vintage imagery and a muted beige-and-blue page And approved of the visual clutter: American design is not about white space.

CNET Digital Living
CNET.COM

When CNET.com’s Digital Living section outgrew its living room navigation metaphor, Threespot Media was called in to help with the renovations. The designers stuck with the room as primary navigation for the site-which shows visitors how new technology can be integrated into the home-and added an online kitchen, home office, rec room, and master bedroom to provide context for the video, editorial picks, and installation tips. We were skeptical of the domestic space conceit at first. For one thing, the metaphor tends to become strained as, just like offline, one simply runs out of the room. But CNET pulled it off with hyper-legible vector drawings, helpful transitions, seamless video integration, and intuitive interaction flow.

Nike Skateboarding
NIKESKATEBOARDING.COM

How does a big brand like Nike market to a demographic that is almost by definition suspicious of big brands? The San Francisco design firm Odopod accomplished it by bringing the same sense of individuality, innovation, and motion to the Web that skaters bring to the ramp and street. The site is meticulously offbeat, allowing fans to interact with their heroes in surprising and cheeky ways. Users can make cutouts of famous skaters such as Chris Hall dance, or watch video interviews or see stills of skaters executing front-side 360s over park benches. It’s easy to forget that the project’s purpose is to sell shoes and apparel, which is probably just how Odopod wanted it. The jurors agreed that the site is tricked out. Browsing is like playing a game.

Ian Robertson Photography
ianrobertsonphotography.co.nz

The site for New Zealand-based photographer Ian Robertson by DNA Design is more than just a gallery of work, it’s a view into Robertson’s personality. The landing page features Robertson as a child. Robertson takes beautiful photographs, frequently of his country’s landscape and fauna, but it was the way the site captured his irreverent attitude that caught the jurors’ attention. They particularly liked the introduction, in which a man throws the site’s navigation onto the screen. Robertson conveys a kind of unpretentious levity that’s memorable. The introduction is a stroke of comic genius. And while it has nothing really to do with photography, the gesture of those arrows, flung across an empty white field, is priceless.

Hillier Architects
studiohillier.com

Sites for architects often use blueprints and other structural imagery to communicate the building process. The Brooklyn studio HUGE decided on a more human-centered approach for Hillier, a broad-based architectural firm headquartered in Princeton, NewJersey. The homepage features questions and answers that show how Hillier employees grapple with the effects of space on productivity and personal interactions. The format provides an easy way into the database of case studies, while the bright-orange color palette and navigation add energy to the page, Hiller has taken a giant pool of information and cleanly integrated it into a visually rich site that is a pleasure to navigate-it just works.

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
WWW. CRAVATH. COM

Lawyers’sites do not usually do well in design competitions. But Cravath, Swaine & Moore, the 185-year-old law firm that once represented newspaper editor Horace Greeley in a suit brought by James Fenimore Cooper is accustomed to winning. Designers at Pentagram avoided the usual law cliches-Doric columns, leather briefcases, globes, and maps and used white typography against a dark-blue background to capture the firm’s quiet, understated aura. The navigation consists primarily of hot-words embedded in paragraph descriptions; links within one statement lead to
other statements that provide successive levels of detail. The typography is beautiful.

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