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Ricky Castro, art director/creative director/programmer/developer
Brooke Mackay/Tourism Vancouver, writers
Brooke Mackay, graphic designer
Thomas Sychay, Thirdwave, technical lead
Ricky Castro/Brooke Mackay, information architects/project design and development
Getty Images/Brooke Mackay, photographers
Brooke Mackay, project manager
AIGA/Kelley Beaudoin/David Womack, clients

“Every city should have a guide like this. It is an elegant, clear and unusual approach to a city guide site that provides the basic information tourists need in a way that even seasoned residents should find helpful. I particularly like how the eclectic collection of recommendations can be sorted and located on the map.”—juror Allegra Burnette

“This type of mapping interface should be standard in every in-car navigation system. It offers an intuitive way to check out what Vancouver has to offer.”—juror Dan Mavromatis

Overview: Arguably the most useful conference guide ever designed, this site provided a wealth of information about the American Institute of Graphic Arts, conference speakers, the venue and the city of Vancouver, B.C. Attendees could enrich their experience through frequent visits to the site.

• 51 compact files totaling 620k
• XML data files
• ColdFusion scripts used to send recommendations via e-mail and cell phones
• 3 months, 2 people

Comments by Ricky Castro:
“At every AIGA biennial conference, attendees receive a printed ‘Culture Guide’ that showcases local attractions, shops and restaurants of the host city. Last year, the theme of the conference was sustainability, so the printed guides, with their limited life span, seemed shortsighted and wasteful.

“We were asked to create a virtual Culture Guide, and as interactive designers, we saw the project as an opportunity to save resources and to improve upon past printed guides.

“We began our research by eating and traveling throughout Vancouver with our guidebooks in tow. We quickly realized that no matter how well our books were organized, the information was never in the format that we needed it. We started looking for a better way to present it.

“With maps, business cards, scraps of paper and 3 × 5 cards strewn on our worktable, the solution became clear: What we needed was an interface to sort through virtual cards and interact with a digital map. We tried to keep the visual design true to this idea and added technology only where it made the most sense.

“One feature that worked particularly well was the cell-phone/ e-mail functionality. From the start, we realized that attendees using the guide would want to have their selections with them. We also realized that if people were to print out pages or jot down notes, we would have failed in our attempt to avoid waste. So, we created a send feature. By allowing users to send their selections as e-mail or text messages to their cell phones we were able to completely avoid the need for paper.

“After creating the system, we kept dreaming of ways to make it more functional: we wanted to add more categories, include walking distances and create information ‘shopping carts’ to make sending information easier. We wanted more time!”


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