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 eleventh article in the series takes a look back at the seventh year of FWA, the year 2006…
2006 demonstrated how the web had taken up from where it left off just before the dot com bubble burst. Big budgets shifted back towards the web and advertising budgets changed their focus from television and print to the web also.
A year that would see the job market go crazy with employers struggling to keep up with their own company's growth.
Another year where we saw a large number of great websites but nothing that stood out head and shoulders above the rest.
Video and 3D, as predicted in my FWA 2005 Review, would be the biggest player this year.
The following list is in chronological order, with the first in the list being the earliest release of the year.
One of my favourite sites of 2006 and one that has left the opposition behind when it comes to sites for cars.
What I want from a car website is large images and amazing detail and this is what our Russian friends have produced here.
Making use of all your monitor space with a draggable interface, packed with gorgeous graphics, Bio-Bak demonstrates how to get people's attention with this out-of-the-box personal portfolio showcase.
Full of interactive video scenes, adidas demonstrated that they were hot on the tails of what had always been Nike's territory when it comes to multimedia web experiences.
A rather unique approach from Mercedes-Benz was presented by way of a full-on experimental interactive piece. Clever and progressive and with the aid of experimental guru, Andy Foulds, totally inspirational.
Adding your personality to your company website is something that can set you apart from your competition. The guys at LitFuse took the whole personality element to the nth degree and some would see even too far!
Instant impact, a rare ingredient, but one that this site brought to the recipe. Almost feeling like you were at the theatre, this site left you in no doubt of the creativity behind it.
Delicious is the word that comes to mind for this site that allows users to design their own tube of Caviar and then watch it in production. Simple idea… perfect execution.
As always from Japan, an innovative approach… a long vertical scroll would reveal numerous eye-popping parts of this agency's web presence.
One of the outstanding sites of the year from Dave Werner, an impressive individual who's talent pool is deeper than most. Creativity and storytelling make this a must-see portfolio for everyone new to web design.
Actionscript to the next dimension from none other than Yugo. Progressive as always and pushing your computer to its limits.
Crispin Porter + Bogusky are the masters at creativity and this piece for the VW Features campaign has the full package to entice its male target audience.
Some will say this site is before its time. You can almost smell your CPU burning as it works overtime to keep up with this massive multimedia website. Next generation is not a term to use lightly but it applies here.
Explore this site in full to get the maximum impact of some outstanding 3D and video work. The new MINI is a breath of fresh air and this site matches that brief perfectly.
Hard hitting photography piece highlighting the plight in the Congo. Complementary sound FX and slick scripting makes this moving as well as awe-inspiring.
Storytelling is an underachiever on the web but this site is the epitome of what it can be. Time is needed to enjoy this site to the max so be patient and feel the full experience.
Another simple idea executed with a twist. Basically a showcase for video clips for an energy drink but with an original interface to take this campaign to greater heights.
A site that once visited will never be forgotten. Clever creative and some would say risky but for a male target it gets you right where it hurts.
The man with the musical suit… nothing else to say!
Highly anticipated launch from California's big guns and one that delivers to the core. Beautiful on the eye and loaded with next generation coding and forward thinking ideas.
Some people give FWA a hard time for featuring too many car websites. Here's an example of why they are wrong.
One of my favourite sites of the year. As we would've said in the old days of rave… maximum goose.
Navigation attains new heights, quite literally, with this beauty from Mexico. Climb and explore.
Impressive project from Getty Images which invited some world renowned designers/developers to get creative with imagery. Some mind-blowing work on show here.
Another superb 3D and video combo that leaves its stamp fully on 2006, showing how even insurance companies can show off their creative side.
Some of the best video action all year in parts of this site for Vodafone. North Kingdom, one of the most popular agencies amongst their peers, yet again showing us how it's done.
Following on from previous successes, the latest game from Australia's ABC is a massive treat for young and old. With the added feature of being able to save your progress, this will keep you or your kids occupied for weeks.
Some of the most moving photography in the world comes out of Magnum's stable and this site pools some of their best photographic essays through an impressive piece of content management from Belgium's finest, group94.
Next generation? That's twice I've used that term and this is a site for Nike as well. Is it Nike or the creative teams who can take the glory?
Anyway, future thinking ideas here with on the fly motion graphics like you had never seen before. Big Spaceship representing their first project for Nike with a landmark example.
Progressive loading video and motion effects, again, at levels we had not experienced before.
Another car site? Yes but look and see. From Korea a combination of sweet video and 3D and well worthy every penny.
Paul Neave is turning into the UK's Yugo, with a constant release of progressive ideas. Here he demonstrates the power of fullscreen dynamic video and his selection of content is equally impressive.
Gorgeous. One word says it all.
Set yourself ahead of the world by producing a unique interface, navigation and personal portfolio.
Jonathan Yuen demonstrates why he is part of Singapore's hot Kinetic Interactive team with another of this year's top personal and unforgettable showcases.
Did someone say interactive video experiences? Here we have one of the best examples and one that has a storyline to it as well. Immersive, humorous and will have you on the edge of your Human Scale.
You want to build a website out of papier-mache? That's exactly what Cactus and AgencyNet did with this uber fun website which sets out to educate the youth of today about owning their choice when it comes to tobacco.
What better way to promote your own talents than to be the star of your own website? Throw in some innovative horizontal navigation and the world could be at your feet.
One of the best splash pages I have seen for a long time, with the site itself boasting great video.
I say Yugo you think what? Genius? Well I do. Here the genius does it again, with the Uniqlo explorer being one heck of an impressive idea and execution.
Video…3D? I don't know about you but I have loved this new direction for 2006. Audi's R8 microsite has to demonstrate about the best we have seen to date and that car is just something else.
Just when you thought nothing fresh is coming online any more, Japan's Heiwa Alpha Inc let rip with one jaw-dropping site to promote their own capabilities.
Last car site to pick out for this year! Try telling me this one isn't creative. Video experience with a very clever theme… become a pilot for Saab… next gen demonstrations.
Some might argue that this site is a bit risky for Australia's Navy as it's a very hefty load. Once loaded though you get a rare insight into life on board one of the world's most advanced war ships through an impressive 3D Sim-like experience.
Adobe have achieved new heights this year by employing some top agencies to create their best microsites to date, with The Creative Mind being the most impressive and most immersive so far.
Since Perfect Fools first invented the book pageflip effect back in the days we have been inundated with attempted twists on the idea. However, Sectionseven really did achieve something fresh with their approach and also exploited maximum monitor space in the latest new widescreen displays.
Experimental Flash work has been in the wilderness for a few years now but Pictaps brought all those feelings flooding back with a very cool little app that turns your simple drawing into a 3 dimensional raver.
Attention to detail, full-on 3D and brain-busting games to solve. This is what you will experience with another great campaign site for Stella Artois from one of our favourite studios, Lowe Tesch.
The UFC sites are numerous but the latest one is the most impressive so far and packs a punch with a lot of multimedia elements and interactive features.
Old skool meets new skool. The WM Team masters come back at us with a bang and bring back those great memories of how they came to the fore in the early naughties. They have kept the same premise but turned it up half a dozen notches with some super slick animation and visual treats.
A massive project for the team at WDDG. The latest incarnation of Altoids is packed with a lot of entertainment, games and more and.. of course… loaded with personality.
As you can see from all the above sites, creativity holds no bounds and still we get to see something new and original almost on a daily basis.
Whilst we might not be blown away every day, we must appreciate and respect that the internet is slowly starting to mature.
I sometimes wonder if there will be any new releases that will literally blow me away but that is what makes it all so exciting isn't it.
Every submitted site to FWA goes across my monitor and every click on a submitted link gives me a buzz... what's it going to be? Is this the next big thing? Some of you regular FWA visitors must get a similar feeling when you click on each Site Of The Day.
That feeling never grows old and the day it does is the day to think of a new career.
About the author, Rob Ford
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.