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Archive for the ‘Website Design’ Category

Some less enthusiastic viewers of our new president’s transition into office have pointed out that “Change” isn’t a very unique platform – that most candidates from the opposing party of an incumbent throughout history have run on a similar platform just because they figure the people are tired of the old. Time will tell how well Obama will uphold the hopeful and uplifting message he’s delivered so far, but one major change has already taken place, and it’s an important one. 

The digital face of the White House got a makeover.

Gone is the texty static site from the Bush era. The new website features a brilliant, clean blue-on-white design with red accents, a classic but modern typeface, up-to-date photography and an inviting interface. There’s a blog, a flash interface with featured information, lots of video and a very nice site map right on the front page.

The new president seems to be emphasizing the point that one of the benefits of being a young president is that he understands digital communication. But I think what he’s also underlining is the importance of carefully planned design in that communication. Clean, beautiful design invites exploration. It draws you into the information which is served up in small bites, brevity is king, media is queen. 

I, for one, see this change in our government as one leading in the right direction.

new_gov

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Ok so this isn’t quite fair… it’s not exactly about advertising, and I’m posting it mainly because I am totally addicted to this show. But anyone who has kept up with Lost for the last few years knows that it’s returning at the end of this month. While my significant other is making it a point to avoid all the teaser previews (think fingers in the ears La-La-La kind of avoidance), I am looking for any scrap of news that will give me my Lost fix until the season premiere.

So it’s not exactly cheating if I find one of those scraps on another advertising blog, is it? Earlier this week AdFreak posted an entry about a new promotional game called Find 815. It’s based on a set of characters that are not recognized from the show: a guy who used to work for Oceanic Airlines, and his search for his girlfriend who was a flight attendant on the doomed airplane. Her name is Sonya and I can’t remember if she was one of the survivors or not – but if the writers want to tie in the game to the show, they never hesitate to pull out some random new character and claim that they were extras the whole time. So of course I’m now checking in on this online flash game every day, playing the little puzzles, clicking on pictures and searching for all the little hidden goodies that no doubt someone smarter than me will find a lot quicker.

One clever advertising move – often the game spits you out onto their partner network site (ABC) to play one of the puzzles. Of course this increases traffic to their website and offers a chance to advertise other shows. Not all is lost when entertainment can pull double-duty like that.

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Ah, the old banner ad. Perhaps the most overlooked form of advertising, because it mostly gets… well… overlooked. We as internet surfers have developed a sophisticated filtering defense that causes all things that appear to be ads on a website to simply not register. This filtering mechanism can be quite a problem for website designers who are trying desperately to communicate the important points to their readers in fractions of a second. Put an item in a box on the right side of a page, people assume it’s a banner ad and ignore it. Any design at the top of a page that does not match the design style of the rest of the page is glazed over. Any flashing and/or annoying space on a website is deemed advertising and is skipped over (or in my case, hastily covered up lest it trigger a seizure or at least a migraine). 

 

So it’s always refreshing to see a well-designed brand do something different with this advertising space. Apple recently posted a new internet ad based on their popular Mac/PC commercials. Using what appears to be a synchronized pair of video banners, Apple pokes fun at Vista yet again while cleverly making fun of the flashing banner ad as well. 

 

Of course, I get an evil little giggle out of this ad – as an enthusiastic Mac supporter, I love these ads, and each one is such a “it’s funny because it’s true” jab at all those snotty PC users who gave me the eyebrow for years because they couldn’t understand why in the world I’d want to pay so much more for a machine considered inferior with which most of the computer games weren’t compatible.

 

I do worry sometimes though… now that Macs are becoming more and more popular, will Apple become the same evil corporate dictator that Microsoft has become? Will Apple lose the thing that makes it so great – its careful attention to ease of use and beautiful design? 

 

Who knows. But the ads are great.  

 

Found on AdFreak. 

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Uniqlo Grid

Uniqlo now offers an interactive web toy on their site. The thing that makes it unusual is that it’s constantly being modified by people all over the world, and everyone is changing the same grid so every move that is made is visible to everyone. After logging in to try it out, I randomly started making changes and watched the “recent activities” list. A variety of names flashed by from Japan, Austria and the United States as people rotated, added, deleted, moved and divided the square logo (with clever location-specific language) across the grid. A variety of sound effects accompany each move, adding to the repetitive soundtrack to create a hypnotic effect.

It’s a great way to get people interacting with their brand, making the logo memorable and getting a global reach. It held my attention for a good 5 minutes, and then I was off to other work. However, I’d never heard of the brand before and now their logo is stuck in my head. Well done.

Found on Creativity Online.

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Hema has built a product page on their website that looks exactly like you’d expect a product page to appear. For a moment. Check it out and enjoy the show.

Hema describes itself as “an international retail organization.” So basically, it sells stuff. Cakes seem to be popular items. With this in mind, the fun they have with their product page seems even more genious, even if it does seem to follow the Rube Goldberg approach that has been popular lately (Guinness, Honda). Sometimes a simple thing can say more about your company than the most expensive ad.

Found on AdFreak

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Orange website

Orange has designed a new flash website that is never ending. It’s a long vertical web toy with annoying sound effects, silly characters, mini games and clickables. I’d love to know what happens when you get to the bottom, but I don’t have the patience to sit and scroll all the way through. Anyone want to give it a try?

From an advertising standpoint, it’s a great tourist trap. Someone clicks on the link and starts looking around, and the next thing they know they’ve spent an hour interacting with a brand. Does it sell the product? I’m not so sure, since after the time I spent there I’m not totally clear on what Orange is selling (cell phones?). What do you think?

Found on Creativity Online

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Blind Target

In a move to bring awareness to the difficulty that the blind and sight-impaired have with accessibility to online shopping, a blind UC Berkeley student is suing Target. Apparently, Target and other popular online retailers have not discovered alt tags.

Target’s PR department must be livid. The technology has been around long enough that putting an alt tag on an image (to make it readable by software used by the blind to “see” websites) is practically mandatory in new WYSIWG website editors. This is not a new thing.

I found a small paragraph on the Target website directed to Assistive Technology Users: “Target strives to provide the best guest experience for all visitors to our web sites. We are committed to continuing to find ways to enhance and improve the experience for all guests, including those using assistive technologies. For help regarding online orders, shopping and returns, please call…” This information was found by clicking on a tiny text link at the very bottom of the home page labeled “About This Site.” That’s helpful.

How embarrassing, and what an easy thing to comply with compared to having the blind community make an example out of them. It’s also a good warning to all those other inaccessible retailers – get with the times, people. It’s pretty darned easy to do.

Article on San Francisco Chronicle

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