“I noticed a lot more digital outdoor and interactive installations than I’ve seen in previous years,” juror Keith Butters said. “It seems like clients are starting to push for more experimentation than they have in the last few years.”
“HTML5 definitely made it over the hump and into the mainstream this year, although Flash is still alive and kicking,” said juror Kim Rees.
“Facebook experience extensions are to the point of ‘must haves’ when developing a communication and messaging platform nowadays,” juror Michael Potts said. “Just being in the ‘space’ is not enough. The designs and interactions must be valuable to consumers and their friends, to become part of a real conversation.”
“We saw a great deal of experiences that required a Facebook login in order to participate,” said juror David Wright. “Our group continued to express reservations about what it meant to give up personal information in order to interact with a brand or company. Very few of these experiences were worth the trade-off.”
“In some cases, the executions could have worked just fine without personalization (and without access to all of my data),” Butters added. “How many users bail after a marketing app asks them to grant access to all their Facebook data, give permission to post as them on their wall, etc.?”
“Privacy will continue to grow in awareness and as this happens, people will stop sharing personal information including location-based systems, photos and status,” juror Kelly Goto said.
“I think there will be a backlash against frictionless sharing and a new paradigm will emerge to help people better curate their own (and others’) level of sharing,” Rees said. “Social networking will become more integrated into applications and sites, but will also be more considerate and thoughtful about how information is shared.”
“Some of my favorite projects were foreign language pieces that were able to transcend language and still deliver amazing experiences.” —David Wright
I asked the jurors how the shift to mobile computing is affecting interactive design.
“The use of mobile devices as ‘first screen’ experiences continues to increase globally,” Goto said. “Previously, television was ‘first,’ the computer was ‘second’ and mobile was ‘third.’ Advertisers need to rethink strategies and cycles as mobile is becoming ‘first screen’ in our anytime, anywhere environment.”
Potts agreed. “In the future, most content will be consumed by such devices, more so than the age-old desktop. We should think of these platforms first. Design for mobile and then adapt. Make the experience responsive.”
“The shift to mobile computing couldn’t have been timed more perfectly,” Wright said. “Smaller screen sizes have forced a renewed conversation about includ-ing only the truly important elements in a design, not the ‘everything and the kitchen sink’ approach with which we’ve grown so comfortable.”
“The thing I harp on about mobile design is the fact that you need to not only understand who your users are, but where they are and what state of mind they are in,” Butters said. “What functions need to work when disconnected from the network, on the subway or in ‘airplane mode’? Designers need to think about the length of engagement in mobile, and the fragmented attention that people have when using their mobile devices.”
When asked about the future, responses included both technical and societal changes.
“If I need to do a minimum of six things (take out phone, launch app, take photo, scan code, follow link, interact with brand, etc.), I’m probably not going to participate.” —Keith Butters
“One of the most impactful technologies is the continued evolution of proximity-based sensors and Near Field Communication to evoke a truly personalized and private experience,” Goto said.
Potts continued, “Near Field Communication—where your smart phone will replace your wallet. The ways that our everyday lives can be made easier by employing technologies that use the idea of proximity for transactions and exchanges will change the way we socialize, play, experience and pay for our world.”
Wright expects to see continued blurring of activities that were once thought of as exclusive to the office and to the home. “I’m excited to see our understanding evolve about how people use mobile and tablet devices in this nascent space,” he said.
“Currently, there is too much web-based work that is built for all platforms but only designed for keyboard/mouse input,” Rees said. “We need to start incorporating all input to deliver rich experiences across the board.”
Potts sees a larger role for interactive media in the future. “Exposure to realities that aren’t our own is the future breeding ground for social and economic evolution,” he said. “While debates on what is right and what is necessary are spirited and passionate, ideals and ideas spread and gain momentum on their own merits. Interactive media is the Petri dish in which these ideas will flourish and be disseminated, I hope, to make the world a better place.”
Evaluating this year’s submissions required a ten-week commitment by our jurors, who reviewed the projects in their offices prior to finals. Bundles of disk-based entries and lists of URLs were sent to the jurors every two weeks for evaluation. Finals were held in our offices using multiple workstations with a T-3 networked connection to evaluate web-based entries. Mobile and tablet entries were presented on the appropriate device. Disk-based entries were delivered over our networked-based server.
Selection for this year’s annual required a minimum of four out of five votes. Judges were not permitted to vote on projects with which they were directly involved; I voted in their stead. The winning projects can be viewed on our website (www.commarts.com).
I would like to extend our grateful appreciation to our jurors for their conscientious efforts in selecting our 18th Interactive Annual. —Patrick Coyne ca