The FWA Review is an ongoing series of articles providing a snapshot of each year at FWA and occasional specials focusing on certain styles and categories. These articles will be highlighting the main focus of the FWA project… websites who use cutting edge technology, together with inspirational ideas, that lead the way for future generations.

The FWA Review will act as a history of cutting edge web design and a reminder of those future-thinking sites, companies and individuals who have paved the way so far.

This sixth article in the series takes a look back at the sixth year of FWA, the year 2005…

2005 proved to be a very interesting year for cutting edge websites. Whilst the quality and production of top sites continues to improve and the general level and bar is raised, there was not a single website in 2005 which would be the obvious Site Of The Year winner.

When we look back at previous years it was almost obvious from the moment we saw sites like Vodafone Futures, Road Runner and the old Marines.com websites that they would win SOTY for the corresponding years of their releases.

So, for this year’s FWA Review it was a very hard task to narrow down which sites to showcase. I usually try and feature roughly two sites from each month but this year it was too hard to narrow the list down this far.

Therefore, the FWA Review 2005 will feature the top 50 websites and web experiences for 2005. This is not the definitive “best of” list but it intends to showcase some of the more original, well thought out, high quality and progressive productions.

The following list is in chronological order, with the first in the list being the earliest release of the year.

Come Clean (http://www.comeclean.com/)

What better way than to start the year than with this original site which allows you to confess your dirty little secrets, or listen to others, and come clean.

Shop Composition (https://www.shopcomposition.com)

One of the rare 100% Flash ecommerce sites for an exciting and eclectic range of goods.

DESIO (http://www.sekisuiheim.com/desio-ae/)

As we see more and more progressive websites coming from Japan, this virtual space for a three-story eco-friendly house took January’s Site Of The Month.

AIGA Design Archives (http://designarchives.aiga.org/)

A great example of taking huge amounts of content and making it easily accessible and viewable. This site is a record of the annual juried selections of design excellence from the American Institute of Graphic Arts.

manipulator (http://www.manipulator.com/)

Form and function in harmony. Some of the best photography you will see at Jill Greenberg’s photofolio, with the “Monkeys & Apes” section being one not to miss.

Type Drawing (http://www.storyabout.net/typedrawing/)

The description is in the title… using type, colour and letters to create art. An innovative and well executed project.

AgencyNet Interactive (http://www.agencynet.com/)

A “Why didn’t I think of that?” website. The seamless video integration brings this site to life and made it the stand-out in February.

Robots (http://www.robotsmovie.com/)

The Official movie site for the Robots’ film. Lots of user interaction, excellent video integration and the additional 3D elements helped make this SOTM for March.

NID Gallery (http://www.nagaoka-id.ac.jp/gallery/gallery.html)

Yugo Nakamura’s first showing in this year’s Review and the unique interface and navigation make this site for Japan’s Nagaoka Institute of Design truly unforgettable.

Stephane Guillot (http://www.stephaneguillot.com/)

Proving that personality always packs a punch, Stephane Guillot from France left his mark on 2005.

Batman: New Times (http://daveschool.com/MoviePages/Batman/Screen_Batman.html)

A fast-paced 12 minute animated adventure where everything is made with lego and produced by the Digital Animation & Visual Effects School.

Delivery (http://www.delivery.framebox.de)

One of the most creative and well-executed short films you’ll see about an old man who receives a mysterious package.

Conclave Obscurum III (http://www.conclave.ru/)

Eagerly awaited and highly anticipated. This new version held true to the original Conclave site which set new standards and launched many organic websites. From Russia where creativity clearly holds no bounds.

Adidas Originals (http://www.neue-digitale.de/projects/originals_ss2005/)

More of an experience than a website, where video and motion graphics harmonised with the back-in-fashion adidas.

Fish N Chips (http://www.fish-n-chips.net/)

New media design from France, wrapped up in a healthy number of interactive styles where no two visits are the same.

Dontclick.it (http://dontclick.it/)

A project that almost couldn’t keep up with demand, dontclick.it is an experimental site where clicking your mouse is a cardinal sin, so… don’t click it.

Red Bull Creativity Contest (http://www.redbullcreativitycontest.be/)

Incredible navigation concept but the money shot is when the user realises they can make a flying machine by putting together some of the elements on the stage.

Nike Free Europe (http://www.nike.com/freeeurope)

The creative use of video helps Nike take a Site Of The Month award and gives this site that certain je ne sais quoi.

Bob's Cube (http://www.bobscube.com/)

You can’t find a better example of interactivity than this site. It’s a worker’s cubicle, he’s not there and you can snoop all you like.

Web Burza (http://web.burza.hr/)

One of the best examples of a standards compliant website that integrates Flash, based on a super hero theme for a creative team from Croatia.

The Sith Sense (http://www.sithsense.com/flash.htm)

You’ve possibly seen and played the “20 questions” game before but the way this Burger King presentation works, with the Darth Vadar twist, gave this that unforgettable edge.

Havaianas (http://www.havaianas.com/)

To highlight a range of cool flip-flops, this site is overflowing with colour and smooth vector motion tweens and transitions. You cannot fail to feel the summer when viewing Havaianas.

Geoterra (http://geoterra.ecomagination.com/indexFlash.html)

Another website with a vibrant summery look and feel, General Electric informs and educate with this game packed experience.

Heli Attack 3 (http://www.miniclip.com/heliattack3.htm)

Only available at Miniclip.com (most likely due to bandwidth requirements), this arcade survival shooter game is a true kick-ass production. Attention to detail and addictive gameplay. You might need a new mouse after this one.

Nestea Ice (http://www.nesteaice.com)

As the site loads you get the chance to pour some of the drink, Nestea Ice, on a sheep and turn it into an ice cube. That just about sums up this weird and wacky site that oozes charm and a catchy tune to boot.

NEC e616 Xtreme (http://www.lowetesch.com/showroom/3/xtreme_eng/)

Two lovely ladies, classical music and a mobile phone do battle to the Xtreme in a unique and very creative promotional site.

Trailer Crashers (http://www.weddingcrashersmovie.com/crashthistrailer/)

An idea that would create a new craze. Upload your own photograph and see yourself star in the trailer for the film, Wedding Crashers.

FLY (http://www.flypentop.com/)

This promotional site for the exciting new FLY Pentop Computer had to be something very special and innovative in its approach to compliment some a progressive new product.

The site excels in innovation itself, with seamless video integration of four teenagers who literally guide you through this website and all the features of the product.

Leven Thumps (http://leventhumps.com/)

The graphical quality of this site is quite extraordinary, with the parallax scrolling adding an extra edge. With a search and find contest as well, and haunting soundtrack, this was a guaranteed hit with its audience.

Extreme Music (http://www.extrememusic.com/)

An industry-quaking 3D visual treat for “the undisputed masters of music production”.

O'Neill (http://www.oneill.com/)

A hybrid site packed with content, frills and spills. The character and quality of this site, combined with excellent usability made this the best hybrid site of the year.

Guitar Shred Show (http://www.guitarshredshow.com/)

Every once in a while something highly unique and original creeps up on you and before you know it they are worrying about bandwidth as the masses beat a path to their server.

It’s a bit like air guitar for the computer generation. Mr Fastfinger is your mentor and foot tapping and head nodding is guaranteed.

Corpse Bride (http://www.corpsebridemovie.com)

Taking movie sites to another level, this outstanding production is truly jaw-dropping, original and unforgettable. This site pretty much blew everyone in the industry away when it was launched.

Not only is this website packed with interaction and special treats for those who explore but the combination of Tim Burton’s characters and the incredibly atmospheric sound and SFX, give this site a life of its own.

Mobile Museum (http://www.momu.co.kr/)

A massive website from Korea in every sense of the word and only just missed out on a SOTM award due to the release of the Leo Burnett site in the same month.

Sony Style Lounge (http://www.sonystyle.com.mx/lounge/)

For the Mexican arm of Sony, users get the chance to interact with a 3D virtual environment and explore some of Sony’s products. Another superb site launched in September and also a contender for SOTM.

Leo Burnett Canada (http://www.leoburnett.ca/)

Without a doubt, September 2005 produced the most amazing sites and Leo Burnett Canada took the coveted SOTM award and later, the Site Of The Year 2005 award with, what must be, one of the greatest agency portfolio sites ever launched.

Ikea Dream Kitchen (http://demo.fb.se/e/ikea/dreamkitchen/site/)

A site that created a word of mouth epidemic by captivating the audience with Matrix style video movement as you go around and around an apartment from Ikea.

Mini Roof Studio (http://www.miniusa.com/crm/roofstudio/)

A very clever and creative promotional site for Mini allowing users to upload an image or create their own roof on a Mini. The finished galleries are noteworthy in their own right as artistic treasures.

Thibaud's portfolio (http://www.thibaud.be/)

The portfolio of a freelance CG artist from Belgium which uses the “Youki” system that he also developed. A very functional and clean site, though the availability of the Youki system may result in many sites of exactly the same appearance.

Comcastic (http://www.comcastic.com/)

With two main sections to this site, users can either pull the strings themselves, by way of playing with puppets, creating their own puppet or even hooking up their mobile phone to engage their puppet in some live chat with other users. The puppet physics is outstanding and makes the whole experience incredibly lifelike.

The second section of Comcastic gives users the chance to break the World Speed-Mouse Record through a pentathlon of mouse-mad games. Definitely another stand-out site of 2005.

Eight The Project (http://www.eight8.jp/)

A collaborative project which showcases Studio8 software for Macromedia Japan. Great use of video and stunning graphics gave this site that little something extra.

Honda Sweet Mission (http://www.tfm.co.jp/sweet/)

More very progressive work from Japan for the Global Research Show from Honda. The World is the interface and users get to leave their voice messages and their own person on their corresponding location.

Death in Sakkara (http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/games/death_sakkara/index.shtml)

An in-depth and well researched web game commissioned by the BBC, with four adventures to complete. With Monkey Island style puzzles to solve and the quality of the production, this has to be one of the best online games of the year.

Project Gotham Racing 3 (http://projectgothamracing3.com)

Some would say that this site is very difficult to navigate but for gamers and especially those who love driving games, the feeling of speed when navigating this site made it both original and exciting to explore.

Saab Animal Vision (http://www.lowetesch.com/showroom/saab/animalvision/GLOBAL/en/)

Yet another innovative idea and a very simple one at that. Some well taken video, creative navigation and atmospheric sounds made this site a finalist in the SOTY contest.

KPF (http://www.kpf.com)

A site for an international architectural practice which boasted immense planning and intelligent content control. Not forgetting the quality of images on show and the ability to maximize them to your browser size.

Dear Mr Barroso (http://www.dearmrb.se/)

An alcohol concern film presented to the EU President, Mr Barroso. With three versions shot of each section, this film guaranteed a different experience for every visitor.

Samorost2 (http://www.samorost2.net/)

The eagerly anticipated follow up to the point and click adventure game from 2003. Users get to play the next installment and have the option to enjoy a further chapter for a small contribution.

Eminem (http://www.eminem.com/)

You can’t deny the creativity of this site, whether you’re an Eminem fan or not. The site streams as a video but the true gold is found by navigating the site and finding the hidden content.

Not surprising that this site went on to pick up the People’s Choice Award 2005.

Naked (http://www.nakedcomms.com/)

A six month project which involved buying miniature shoes, sofas and other items to build a house in 1:12 scale, with the end result being this superb creation.

Final thought.

The biggest single piece of news in 2005 for me and the whole FWA project was the fact that we launched our all-new website and brand.

The whole design and development was way bigger than anyone involved ever imagined. We literally spent months planning the site, the first seed was planted back in 2003.

The fact that we launched to 30,000 visitors from 140 countries on 21st November was the icing on the cake and gave a very pleasant buzz to everyone involved. We still have further plans for the site so stay tuned…

Oh and 2006?

We shall be seeing a lot more application style websites, the likes of the new FWA website, where the site runs and feels like software on your desktop. Plus, expect to see more virtual web experiences, loaded with interactive 3D and video.

About the author, Rob Ford
Founder & Principal, FWA

Robert Ford is FWA’s Principal. Born and bred in England with a background in finance, sales and project management, working for companies like Halifax PLC and American Express. He oversees the day to day running of the FWA project.

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