David Lee, Interactive Creative Director, Wieden + Kennedy, London
James Baker, Founder, WDDG
Discovery Channel: Earth Live
Take a satellite view of the Earth's potential future.
JB The Earth Live application is a great concept that is executed very well. I really like that you can view live data and customize your views of the Earth. I found the design to be well done and overall very intuitive; the use of Papervision to visualize the Earth in 3D is a nice touch. I have a couple of gripes with the interface—I would like to drag stories straight from the featured stories pane into the layer details pane, and you have to scroll down to get to some of the close buttons—but they aren't that big of a deal. Being able to create your own story and share it through Facebook or a simple embed is a nice touch that will help spread the word about the application. Overall I think that it's a great concept and very well executed. Four Stars
DL This site could potentially become a very useful tool as an overview of the environmental changes happening in the world today, but it just feels unfinished and a little overly complex. The design is just too clustered with information, tabs and buttons. I think a simple redesign can make this into a much better experience, because there is so much valuable information to learn on this site. Three Stars
Swedish Armed Forces: Recruitment Tests
Have you got the cunning, guile and manual dexterity for the Swedish Armed Forces?
JB I really enjoyed the Swedish Military site. It's very well designed (and what isn't in Sweden). The concept is interesting and overall it was very well executed. While I understand the reason for the lack of subtitles (they want you to pay attention to what they are saying), I'm not sure if I would recommend it in practice. The games had a nice variety to them, they were pretty interesting and some were quite challenging. The lack of instructions was a bit of a pain— but in the larger context (I'm assuming that the meta test here is whether you can grasp rules quickly) makes sense. If I were to play the game a second time I'm sure I would do 100% better. Apparently they think that I'm a good officer candidate—I'm not sure if they will take me when they find out that I was born in Oklahoma and I have flat feet. Four Stars
DL In America, most army recruitment websites use the adrenalin-pumped "serving your country" approach. This site veers more towards the intellect of the candidate, which I really respect. It starts off quite well, no usual imagery of generals greeting you, just the voice over and type to communicate the tests. I was really expecting the experience to change after the initial introduction. Unfortunately it never did. I lost my patience with the tests—so I guess I'm not right for the Swedish Army. Three Strars
Tide: My Talking Stain
Sort of like a Tamagotchi, but more annoying.
JB The talking stain spot was one of my favorite commercials for the Super Bowl—but I found the site to be a big disappointment. I can't count how many "upload your face onto the dancing/singing whatever" sites I have seen in the last three years. When it works it can be quite fun but at this point it's not in the least bit innovative. While I love the always impressive Oddcast technology, I can't help but think that this has all been done before—and much, much better (Monk-E-Mail and Elf Yourself come to mind immediately). The production quality is just dreadful—the type is impossible to read and the overall design looks really rushed and unpolished. The one bright note is the YouTube element of the campaign—it seems that a lot of people are creating their own "talking stain" spots, and some are quite good. One Star
DL A good example of an average ad made better online. At first you wonder how fun it will be to stick your face on a stain, but adding your voice makes it much more entertaining. The most interesting thing with the site is how easy the process was to upload a photo, add your voice and spit it out as a movie ready to be posted on YouTube. They simply got to the point of the site quickly, without any smoke and mirrors. Four Stars
Starz: Virtual Therapy
Meet celebrity therapist Elizabeth Goode.
JB It's evident that good copywriters are working more and more in the interactive space—and this site is a good example of when good copywriting can really add to the interactive space. I look at Shaveeverywhere.com as another great example of the power of quality copywriting within the interactive medium. The writing and the integration of the interactivity are snappy and funny. The design is nice and clean and easy to navigate. Overall I found the site to be very well done. Three Stars
DL We've seen this idea work for some other sites in the past, but even though the virtual therapist might have seemed to be the right idea for this particular TV show, it really isn't very engaging from start to end. There aren't many options to choose from, it seems like all the questions and responses are similar, and I didn't even get a cheap laugh out of it. In the end it's too obvious in almost every way. Two Stars Street Review
Morgan is captain of Ubisoft's all-girl gaming team the Frag Dolls.
Swedish Armed Forces: Recruitment Tests
If you love IQ games and uninspired narration, you already have the first set of skills needed to be an officer in the Swedish Armed Forces. The tests are challenging enough to want to play them a couple times, and the interface is a tidy testing environment. But where I expected promises of exciting travel, I was lectured by a bored proctor about how my knack for word search puzzles could be handy in battle. This might appeal to a Swedish military officer, but I'd rather join the Swiss Army. At least they have cool knives. Three Stars