Responses by Abb-d Choudhury; founder, creative director and director of production; Curate Labs.
Background: The site was designed for Joe Talbot, director of The Last Black Man in San Francisco. Released in 2019, the movie won numerous accolades, and Joe needed a website to present his production company Longshot Features as well as his award-winning work. The purpose of the site was to share behind-the-scenes content of the movie as well as to advocate the team’s vision, work and involvement.
The website helped draw attention to the amazing work of the team at Longshot. Alongside this, it also told the story of friendship between Joe and Jimmie Fails—the lead actor in the movie—and the five-year journey of creating the film.
Design core: The design heavily relies on the work of illustrator Mattis Dovier. His work exaggerates each section through shady characters and stylistic animations. Page interactions and parallax scrolling help bridge the illustrations to the content, enabling us to lead the user to sections and present in-depth content in a fun, digestible way.
Challenges: From a design perspective, the most challenging aspect was to capture Joe’s personality. Translating this into a visual style took a lot of questions and a heavy amount of to-ing and fro-ing. From a technical perspective, the trickiest part of the site was the home page. Getting the horizontal scroll to work and animating it correctly took a bit of time. We had to make sure that each individual illustration didn’t interfere with each other and was clickable. This was particularly a challenge on mobile platforms, and subsequently, we had to make a few compromises in order to have things work smoothly.
A secondary challenge was keeping the overall page load times down. The home page (and a couple of others) has a high number of assets that need a bit of time to load. Compressing them impacted the overall design so we had to find a middle ground in the process—for example, adding loaders on the home page.
Navigation structure: The idea behind the navigation was to create a story or timeline that moves differently to the conventional vertical scroll. Joe, as a director and storyteller, was clear on how he wanted the experience to feel. Aside from the horizontal scrolling timeline of characters, we still needed to implement a simple menu system that worked more in line with typical UX practices. This was implemented as a secondary option for navigation, as well as links at the bottom of each page to encourage “onward reading.”