2011 - The Year Everything Changed at FWA
It all started in 2007
Up until February 2007, FWA had almost entirely been awarding Flash websites. For 7 years, every day, a new Site Of The Day (SOTD) was being announced and it was always, almost completely, Flash deployed. The team at Ogilvy Singapore changed everything when they submitted Levi's Copper Jeans and it went on to win SOTD on 21st February 2007. This site still stands shoulder to shoulder with the best non-Flash sites of 2011 and will always stand out as the seed of change at FWA.
Fast forward to 2010
For the next three years we saw the occassional plugin free site win an FWA but in 2010, the playing field was destroyed when The Wilderness Downtown landed on the FWA judges. The interactive short film immediately earned its place in FWA history as it went on to win Site Of The Year (SOTY) for 2010. Whilst raising a lot of eyebrows amongst some of FWA's hardcore fans, I know personally and amongst the judges for SOTY that there was no doubt that Arcade Fire's "We Used to Wait" promo site had raised the bar to a level we were not quite expecting.
2011... when everything REALLY DID change at FWA
CSS and HTML showcase sites had been rife for a number of years already and I had personally been keeping an eye on them for some time. My ethos with FWA was to always emphasise creativity, no matter what the technology used was. Agreed, FWA had possibly painted itself into a Flash corner over the years but I do feel the focus of the web had almost entirely been Flash and I was fully aware things were changing but I didn't want FWA to jump on the trend wagon unless there was creativity there that was worthy of showcasing at FWA. In 2011, the knock-on effect from The Wilderness Downtown was immediately apparent as early in January we started to see a rise in plugin free submissions to FWA.
What we didn't want to do was to just start showcasing Flash free sites for the sake of it as I feel many of the CSS/HTML showcase sites have done and still do. Thankfully, some agencies and many individuals have done what we saw back in the late 90s and early 00s, when FWA was founded, and that is to get very creative and lead the way for others to follow in the fast changing world of interactive.
Finally, before we start with this pioneering list of inspirational plugin-free websites that have changed FWA and the interactive world in general, I must point out that Flash is still the dominating force right now and the most exciting sites and submissions we still see are made with Flash and other plugins. Yet I do appreciate how the playing field is indeed changing and welcome the growth and diversity the web has and always will bring and, rest assured, whatever is cutting edge and future thinking, will always be showcased at FWA as we continue our focus and dedication to highlighting and awarding the greatest creativity and innovation via our long established SOTD!
This feature list will start back in January 2011 and will move through the year to October 2011, in itself showing how things are changing incredibly fast...
Ben the Bodyguard App - Homepage
SOTD: 3rd January 2011
I think 2011 will be known as the year of the scrolling website. That sounds like such a boring statement and, thankfully, this first example is anything but boring.
Nike Better World
SOTD: 31st January 2011
Already raising the bar with an innovative scroll where images are layered in and out seamlessly. This site started a massive wave of similar sites.
Toyota Prius Projects
SOTD: 4th March 2011
A hybrid that uses HTML5 and Wordpress that works very well across multiple devices.
SOTD: 17th March 2011
Interactive game with a simple idea that gives users the chance to piece together a picture in a limited timeframe.
SOTD: 5th April 2011
Ultra-clean and ultra-stylish, this site is everything that pixel perfect web design is all about.
BLITZ - We Design Love
SOTD: 12th April 2011
Agency site that raised the bar amongst many other agencies who had simply opted for a basic scrolling page.
SOTD: 17th April 2011
Using the art of scroll to show a short promo video for a footwear collection.
SOTD: 20th April 2011
Another one of the outstanding HTML agency sites of 2011.
World's Biggest PAC-MAN
SOTD: 29th April 2011
Came very close to being a SOTM winner. This site allows users to create their own Pac-Man level and play others.
SOTD: 6th May 2011
Experimental project that uses HTML5, WebGL and requires Chrome or Firefox, as many of the more innovative non-Flash projects also have browser dependency.
Cuban Council 1911
SOTD: 19th May 2011
More pixel perfection from the legends who gave us K10K and the Facebook logo.
Photography by Rickard Sund
SOTD: 22nd May 2011
Not the first time we have seen navigation by drawing but a first for HTML navigation.
Messages for Japan
SOTD: 25th May 2011
In 2011 there couldn't have been a more worthy cause to support than that of Japan. This site brought the entire world together on one site.
SOTD: 1st June 2011
Bringing video to HTML and utilizing vertical scroll to launch each section. Best viewed in Chrome.
SOTD: 2nd June 2011
Managing huge amounts of content via vertical and horizontal scrolling.
3 Dreams Of Black
SOTD: 27th June 2011
SOTM: June 2011
Only non-Flash site to pick up a SOTM so far this year and a contender for SOTY. A massive interactive 3D animation... pioneering.
The Bullitt Agency
SOTD: 9th July 2011
Agency site that opens with fullscreen video without a plugin. Might not sound groundbreaking as we have seen this for years but without the need for a plugin, this site picked up a lot of kudos.
Guide to the App Galaxy by Google
SOTD: 20th July 2011
Scrolling through space with colourful and solid design.
SOTD: 26th July 2011
An agency that is really showing their skills with HTML/CSS. Fullscreen video and images, with multiple navigation techniques.
Mario Kart Wii Experience
SOTD: 1st August 2011
Uses your mouse scrollwheel to navigate both horizontally and vertically. Feels like you are on a journey.
SOTD: 15th August 2011
Massively experimental and CPU intensive. Some have argued that Flash could do this easily whilst others see the possibilities of the future.
SOTD: 20th August 2011
Google Maps mashup that turns clothes into a world of their own. Click and drag to navigate.
OK Go - All Is Not Lost
SOTD: 31st August 2011
Promotional video site which requires Chrome. Another window pop-up and multiple window generating site that seems to be making a comeback.
SOTD: 10th September 2011
Unexpected site for a fleet of ships. Again, uses fullscreen video for impact.
New Zealand 100% Pure
SOTD: 13th September 2011
Heavy load but with great results. Taking the scroll up a notch.
SOTD: 18th September 2011
Gorgeous design. Follow the white rabbit to discover pixel delights.
SOTD: 20th September 2011
Really ramping up the entire ecommerce experience. Full-on brand site that incorporates social channels without giving in to Facebook Pages as many others have done.
SOTD: 22nd September 2011
Great harmony of design, colour and scroll.
Scotch & Soda
SOTD: 28th September 2011
Fullscreen imagery gives this fashion brand impact.
SOTD: 4th October 2011
A perfect site to finish with... an experimental portfolio site for an individual. The future is always in the hands of individuals and especially those with experimental minds.
From the year FWA was founded in 2000 through until the end of 2010 we awarded less than 10 HTML websites. In the first 9 months of 2011 already we have awarded over 30. We are almost awarding 2 HTML sites per week now.
Whilst those numbers speak for themselves, the huge majority of work we are awarding at FWA is Flash based and I still feel that's where the ultimate creativity is currently being achieved.
Plugin free interactive design has to evolve outside of the tricks and effects that scrolling has shown us so far otherwise we will be back to the late 90s where every website scrolled and Flash came through to give us all the chance to explore without the need to scroll.
Things are certainly changing and FWA will always be showcasing those sites who creatively push the boundaries, no matter what technology or code is being used.
The question is, can plugin free interactive design deliver innovative and progressive experiences? From the award winning examples above I think we can agree it is beginning to be achieved but the frequency of truly being wowed by a plugin free experience is still very limited.
As the year end approaches we'll have our, always exciting, Site Of The Year and People's Choice Award awards taking place, which will take us nicely into 2012... the year of _____?