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Interactive Annual 14:

The New Firstborn

Launch Live Site

“Simple, elegant, fast and full of great content. What more could you ask for from an agency site?” —Jon McVey

“Elegant, surprising and clever, this self-promotional site uses striking images and bold typography to showcase work. Unselfconscious, yet meticulous, it allows the work to speak for itself.” —Liz Danzico

Overview: In its first five years of business, Firstborn redesigned its site every year—not only to maintain a fresh look but as an outlet to experiment with the latest technologies and forward-thinking designs. As its portfolio grew, a more usable and practical design followed that lasted five solid years. During its tenth year, having completed more than 400 projects, Firstborn redesigned its site again. With a huge content management system, a relatively flat hierarchy, intelligent cross-linking and a visual design that accommodates large screens, the current incarnation of the site features 100+ pieces, with a framework that allows for another 100+ to be added.

  • Taking 5 months to complete, the number of internal hours equated to almost $600,000.
  • Each of the 115 projects have an average of 6 screenshots each (690 screenshots).
  • The black of the background is actually 90 percent black so the contrast is less harsh.

Comments by Dan LaCivita and Michael Ferdman:

What would you do differently if you could start the project over?
“I’m not sure that we’d do a whole lot that much differently. If—and that's a big ‘if’—we had the luxury, we would put a few more programmers on it to help speed it along and add in some more features, which we’ve now saved for Phase II. But, given the fact that there are 40 of us, it makes it hard to put a larger team on it since we also obviously need to keep people working on billable work.

“It definitely took a lot of hours, but it is a long-term investment. Before this version of our site, the previous site had been up for five years. It had face-lifts, but it stood the test of time from both design and development points of view. (We hope the same will hold true for this new version.)

“This was also an opportunity to create a CMS with new features that we can build upon for our clients in the future. So while it cost a lot of money to create, the idea was not only to build a new site, but to also develop products and properties that we could eventually monetize. The CMS will be coined fbadmin while the new search functionality, internal to the Flash application (rolling out in Phase II), will be offered as fbsearch.”

Joon Yong Park, executive creative director
Aaron Pollick, art director
Ethan Farber, writer
Gicheol Lee, Flash programmer
Robert Forras, database programmer
Francis Turmel,technology director
Kevin Arthur, editor
Avery Holden, project manager
Tim Nolan, photographer
Dan LaCivita, executive director
Michael Ferdman, managing director/partner
Wes Adams, quality assurance
Elizabeth Collins/Su Jung Kim/Michael Sanctobin/Jennifer Xin, contributing artists
Firstborn (New York, NY), project design and development/client