September 26, 2008
Interactive development has been steadily evolving since the day the web allowed the public to post their own websites.
People have been intuitively finding new ways to make things happen, shake, blink, move, react, click, rollover and so on.
There are people like Carlos Ulloa, Mathieu Badimon, Andy Zuoko, Tim Knip, John Grden and many others who are doing great work and continue to develop amazing new ways to manipulate animation and add new dimensions to the online world.
However I feel that one area that seems to continue to lag behind is interactive design. Where are the designers who are innovating interactive design?
I keep seeing the same executions flashed up, placed into grids, thrown onto a lit surface, papervisioned and tweened.
There is no real experimentation with how we communicate visually to the public.
Just because you throw a circle in the z axis doesn't change the fact that its still a circle. We need new ways to communicate online. Websites today embody too much influence from print and frankly its a waste of technology to make something so flat simply move around.
Navigations have been explored in a bunch of inventive ways but in the end clients will always go back to the traditional navigational schema because of the fear of their audiences not being able to find something.
In the early days of Flash when people like Vas Sloutchevsky and Yugo were experimenting with design that fully utilized the show/hide, physical and dynamic, motion driven and curious nature of what Flash truly offered us as an animation platform.
Just go take a look at the early portfolio of the first 5 years of Firstborn where there are many executions that Vas Sloutchevsky had taken corporate designs that were outside of the normal flat executions he never designed out of fear of not communicating properly.
Clients trusted him then and they still do now.
He makes sense of his work and thinks out every single detail.
Vas is now doing that again on some new very exciting projects coming out here very soon at Freedom + Partners.
Its exciting to be producing projects that are truly interactive in both their design and their development.
Not just an interactive Colorform board.
Yugo is also one of these rare talents who truly understands this method of design. He constantly produces work that is fully born from the interactive womb.
Flashing up flat jpgs or turning them into 3D is just not exciting anymore.
Similar to the way Apple designs products that are wildly addictive to not just technophiles but the general public, we need to design in a similar fashion for websites that move, inform, entertain and communicate to a wider audience.
It is our job to make our audiences and the web more sophisticated.
Being handed comps by a client and making them move, in my opinion doesn't constitute good work, at this point anyone can accomplish this.
I have worked at shops where we were overloaded with amazing flash developers who were wasting their time and prime years coming up with algorithms and flashing up lame designs and flat creative, that once animated, was really not that much more impressive than it was when it sat in its original flat Photoshop layers.
Some sites are exact rip-offs of others!
Tim Nolan pointed out to me yesterday that this site named Quarantine is an exact rip off of the Big Spaceship HBO Voyeur site they did for BBDO.
He also pointed out a site that was so original and so inventive in its nature where the content and site were perfect compliments to one another. It was for the new Wii game Wario.
See it here.
We need to back track a bit and return to the philosophy of designing interfaces that are designed specifically for the web.
We need to think of exacting and smart solutions that work and not to just "make it move."
People aren't fooled anymore, you cant fake it these days. The web is scrutinized to the umpteenth degree, your not going to get away with letting people think that they are customizing something and then show them a result that is canned or "fake".
The web is now fully enveloped into our culture, our kids are already sophisticated users.
My 9 year old daughter can point out very subtle, but to her, obvious flaws on most websites. Its intuitive, the way our generation looked for "fakes" in movies, people now see in the web.
Retrofitting designs and campaigns has become tiresome and frankly its a cop out.
Lines that move, squiggle, dance in the shapes of animals and squirm when you touch them are just lame gimmicks.
The web expects more from us.
Lets not litter it with sites that have no real substance or foundation.
Every site deserves thought, strategy, enthusiasm and dedication to its perfection in both design and development.