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William Colgrove/Dennis Crothers, CNET, art directors
Annette Cardwell/Janice Chen/Gwydion Suilebhan, CNET, writers
Phil Gosier, lead designer/illustrator
David Belman/Cotton Coulson, CNET, creative directors
Toby Boudreaux/David Durst, CNET/Gillian Hally, programmers
Lewis Francis, technology director
Laura Lindhe, CNET, executive producer
CNET, digital video producer/client
Threespot Media, project design and development

"This project delivers by placing a wide array of consumer electronics, that CNET editorializes, into the context of everyday life. It expands the consumer consideration set by introducing people to products they were previously unaware of, while a clean information-focused design heightens the experience." —juror Melissa Haworth

"This site appropriately blends a variety of technologies to create a surprisingly useful guide to the home electronics minefield. And it looks great, even when saddled with CNET's sometimes overwhelming color palette." —juror Jeffrey Veen

Overview: This all-Flash site allows users to select and tailor the latest technology products to their own lifestyles. Visitors can watch videos, peruse editorial recommendations and learn how to install the latest gadgets in their homes.

• 250MB total file size
• 2,259 files in a 5-level directory
• Increased page views 400%; length of user sessions 630%

Comments by David Belman:
"CNET has built a business around technology reviews and features that appeal to a predominantly male, early-adopter audience. Digital Living was envisioned as an experience to target the tech enthusiast who doesn't know s/he's a tech enthusiast. Our task was to leverage existing CNET content and to integrate with the existing lead- and ad-based revenue model, but to completely re-envision the visual design and interaction to appeal to a radically different demographic.

"The key creative challenge of the project was to take the limited visual metaphor of a previous CNET project—the digital living room—and expand it to include a digital home, built to scale and a digital universe, complete with digital airport, car and office. Our creative team had grown with the Web from the CD-ROM days and was familiar with the limitations of designing inside a spatial metaphor. So our challenge was to build a scalable, flexible, spatial metaphor that reinvigorated the model.

"The challenge was complicated by additional considerations: designing a backend system with unlimited extensibility; working within the constraints of legacy presentation and data-store infrastructure; developing for future localization; incorporating photo-realism into each room of the environment while keeping the technology products in the design generic; and designing a video display large enough to accommodate video playback in each room while still leaving real estate for sponsor branding.

"The final solution provides the comfort and familiarity of a concrete metaphor (the home), while introducing abstractions from the metaphor to allow for scalability, like a three-dimensional loader movie that allows users to 'walk' between rooms."


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