The Bob’s Cube project began when our client Hostway, a leading web hosting company, expressed an interest in introducing itself to a wider audience, especially web designers.
Hostway wanted to do something that would be unexpected and entertaining… something so compelling that someone who sees it, might forward it along to a friend.
We felt that a strong and compelling story should drive the idea that we would come up with. Something involving, that would give the user a feeling of participation and discovery.
What was also important (and not to be forgotten), was also introducing the Hostway brand to new potential customers, helping them to understand who Hostway was and the services that they had to offer as well as communicating an impression of the character of the company.
The idea of a strong narrative and the need to market a company had to play in balance with each other because we knew that if the site was to succeed people would have to be forwarded along to friends who hadn’t seen it yet, and who would want to send a friend a marketing message.
We also felt that the visual design of the experience shouldn’t be too esoteric or idiosyncratic or a user wouldn’t identify with it.
Time to start Brainstorming
This thinking gave us a good framework to start so we began the brainstorming process.
It was during one of these brainstorming sessions that doing an interactive office cubicle came up.
It started one of those tracks of conversation where everyone had a different story and it got quite lively, as we shared many a horror story about experiences in or around office cubicles.
This really seemed to be the common thread that we were looking for and once we had the basic idea we began the process of really blowing it out.
Say hello to Bob and his Cubicle
We created a whole intricate back story on this everyman office worker, Bob, who works in a cubicle at some faceless corporation.
We went into great detail, creating the background story behind this Bob character and this allowed us to build a really rich environment because we knew “who” Bob was and therefore, what he’d have in his cubicle.
We began working on incorporating interactivity and how it would help tell the story.
We wanted to create an environment where a user had to explore and through exploration they discovered new things, and unexpected surprises.
We sketched out how we would photograph this and started to think about all the interactive surprises we could hide within the environment.
We then created a storyboard presentation of the concept and presented the idea to Hostway--they loved it (lucky for us). They loved the attention to detail and saw the immediate potential that it had to get passed along.
We talked over the schedule and when we agreed on what we would deliver and when, the real work began!
Making it happen
We rented an office cubicle from a near-by office furniture company and had it delivered and installed right in the middle of our office so it could become a disruptive force for everyone in the studio.
We then propped it with random office junk that each of us collected over the years, and photographed Bob’s environment.
The photography process was quite detailed and we had all the areas and pieces mapped out so we photographed all the parts and prepared them for use in the interface.
Once the photographing was done, we worked through the details of interface and interactive components, planning what they would do.
We looked at how they would be integrated, and also experimented with ways to make transitions between the different photos and renderings that were telling Bob’s story.
We started game development, when photography finished and never stopped creating content until the project was finished, developing some unusual things like Bob’s diary, fake books, his emails, voice messages, and random doodles.
Having fun with the Client
We also felt that adding some video to the overall experience would give us another rich element for users to experience, so we asked our client to help us in the process. Hostway happily agreed to let us set up for a LONG afternoon and shoot video in their offices.
It was such a perfect place because it was a space that they had taken over from a former consulting company so it was the cube environment that Bob’s Cube might be a part of.
We also got some of the staff to help us by starring in the different videos, all and all a whole lot of fun and it really helped to get the entire Hostway organization excited about the idea.
The Complete Experience
We immersed ourselves in Bob’s world creating games, interactive applications, content and art as well as the 3 different videos that are a part of the environment--the project took a little over 8 weeks from concept to delivery.
Bob’s Cube was one of those great experiences where you have a really great project, a client who gets it, and a team that is totally energized and contributing to really make something unique and exciting.
About the author:, Mark Rattin
As 15 letters’ President and Creative Director, Mark Rattin is responsible for the creative and strategic development for its clients and brings more than 17 years of creative design experience and strategic thinking.
Throughout his years in the design industry, Mark’s work has received numerous awards and industry recognitions and publications. He has also served as a judge for some of the industry’s leading design and interactive competitions, such as the Communication Arts Interactive Annual, The London Advertising Awards, and the Web Advertising Awards.
Mark holds a B.F.A. in Visual Communications and a M.A. in Photography from Northern Illinois University.