Modernista! Explains the Makeover

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Discarding the usual approaches to an agency site redesign, Boston's Modernista! opted for its own version of a web takeover to tout its portfolio and pertinent info, using the destination essentially as a redirect to a compact, content-filled rollover menu that's dispersed throughout the web and planted on familiar sites like YouTube, Flickr and Wikipedia.

"There's such a challenge for ad agencies to be known as digitally savvy and understand what's going on the medium," says Modernista! co-founder/creative director Gary Koepke. "We wanted to prove to people that we understand a way that we can have a transparent, open source and highly successful site."

Not a widget, a standard banner or really anything to that effect, the Modernista! menu screen, which was all built in-house, could be the new model of a "micro" site. "The menu is DHTML," Modernista! producer Paul Lenzi explains. "We used a little JavaScript for the intro animation and also between the menu and the inline frame. The menu doesn't live in the site as one might customarily expect. In reality the menu is the site. It sits on top of an inline frame which we use to load URLs from elsewhere on the web. Users can then navigate and use the web as they normally would without having to leave our 'homepage.'

For instance, by clicking on, one is transported to the agency's Wikipedia entry with the menu still present on the screen. Find out about the company there, then scan the menu and view work including TV spots which will redirect to YouTube or print stills which will send you to Flickr (though can browse any of these sites normally with the menu still present). "We secured accounts on many of the most popular social networking sites and used them just as any individual would—including, and especially, leaving everything open for opinion from the communities," Lenzi says.

Of course, with Wikipedia itself serving as open platform, Modernista's entry faces its own dilemma upon launch. "Wikipedia shut us down," says Koepke. "The only reason they did it though was because people were misusing Wikipedia. It wasn't us because we didn't put that information up. People took my name off and put somebody else's name up and started screwing with the right content so they should've shut us down. But I don't think the fact that we drove people there was the issue; it was misuse of the space."

With the Wikipedia entry still live though "being considered for deletion", Koepke says Modernista! remains unfettered and will continue tweaking and refining its "site." "We're going to get a lot of people to drive to our client sites. We've gotten adapted into the space and the blogosphere and people are taking over what we're doing and running with it. One, we're learning through it and two, we're stretching our creativity."

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