The Webby Awards – which is basically the Internet’s Oscars – is scheduled to honor a whole slew of websites, apps, videos, campaigns, and personalities that did the online world proud this past year. Before this year’s winners are officially announced on April 30, let’s take a look at some of the nominees who may have managed to fly under your radar but definitely deserve some attention.
Cool Hunting Gift Guide
Nominated for the Mobile & Apps: Best User Experience category, this iOS app is every indecisive gift-giver’s dream. With a simple tap of a button on your smartphone, you can check out gift suggestions from a wide range of categories like Art, Electronics, or the always-relevant Books, Music, and Film. For those shopping on a budget, you can also filter by price. Once you preview a gift and decide to buy it, the app either links you to the vendor or allows you to purchase the item right then and there. You can add gifts that you would like to receive to a wish list or, if you’re feeling empowered, send a link to your loved ones via email.
Associated with the website that prides itself as “the designer’s personal reference,” The Cool Hunting Gift Guide is very easy to install and even easier to use – and its gift ideas befit anybody with a flair for style and tech.
Those who are used to traveling on a budget may be wary to give up tried-and-tested Kayak as their flight aggregator of choice, but there’s a pretty good reason why Hipmunk is one of the nominees for the Website: Best User Experience category. It’s neat and simple, free from bells and whistles (and pop-ups). Any company that makes sure you leave their site as soon as possible and has everything you came for definitely has the customer’s needs in mind.
And what are those needs, exactly? The need to not be bothered by a barrage of advertisements and the need to be able to compare and contrast flights at a single glance. Hipmunk, instead of simply listing down flight results, arranges them from left to right in easily distinguishable color coded bars. Other flight aggregators stop after providing you a list arranged by price; Hipmunk believes your time is more important than your plane fare and allows you to – aside from searching for flights the conventional way – see flights arranged in order of “agony,” which combines price with flight duration, number of stops, as well as departure and arrival times.
Upon entering the site, you are welcomed by relaxing music and visual of trees. The way the website is designed, visitors are encouraged to explore by clicking – what you will see is a string of highly captivating visuals showcasing the works of a all-in-one media company comprised of directors, motion designers, photographers, Web designers, developers, and sound designers. They may have this portfolio as a means to show their better projects, but their website itself is a work of art, a testament of what their company is capable of producing for reputable clients like Ralph Lauren, Adidas, Bose, and Maybelline, among others. Nominated for Best Visual Design: Aesthetic, blacknegative makes you wish you had a website as beautiful as theirs.
Pitchfork’s Cover Stories
When you visit a music webzine online, you hardly expect anything beyond your usual perusing of pages and clicking of links. Pitchfork, however, had a pretty genius idea of packaging their feature stories in a unique and engaging package, definitely worth its nomination for the Best Visual Design: Function category. Just check out this piece on English singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Natasha Khan, more popularly known as Bat For Lashes. Every scroll down reveals something different … it’s mesmerizing to watch. Pitchfork’s page design goes beyond reader engagement and aims for full-on captivation.
A lot of girls out there struggle with their femininity and self worth. Maryam Siddiqi, the author behind this chronicle nominated for Personal Blog or Website, has made her journey public for the whole cyberworld to see, and it’s nothing short of inspiring. She writes about what inspires her, examples of ladylike behavior, lessons on etiquette, lifestyle, fashion, and beauty – basically everything that has anything to do with being a woman. What makes her blog worth perusing is that she talks about common female issues, but is proving the normalcy of the struggle involved in rediscovering one’s identity. It’s like someone’s out there saying, “hey girls, it’s all right … you’re not alone …”
If you’re a budding writer and are active on Twitter, then this is a great portal you should look into. Medium is a simple, straightforward space that allows writers to share stories and readers to enjoy well thought out pieces. The folks behind this project were the ones who first launched Blogger – yes, the very same blogging platform now owned by Google – so you know they are fully capable individuals to embark on a project that’s set to revolutionize how online publishing works.
Medium is nominated for the Websites: Social Media category while they’re currently in beta testing. Just imagine what the site can be capable of once they’ve rolled out all their features and made their service accessible to everyone.
Sound Creatures X Pictoplasma
What happens when a sound designer cooks up some weird creature-like sound effects and asks people to imagine and draw the creatures the sounds emanate from? You get a nomination for the Websites: Weird category and a really cool project to brag about. David Kamp’s Sound Creatures project is incredibly imaginative and quirky: After a year online, he attended a Pictoplasma character design festival in Berlin, where attendees drew images that they thought matched the sounds played back. The site nominated for this category features drawings produced during the festival.
Imagine if you were blind, in a place where disability was met with indecency and avoidance. This is the premise of this site nominated for the Interactive Advertising & Media: Augmented Reality category, and if you think about it, it’s a pretty difficult idea to illustrate virtually. The website lets you experience blindness through a visually impaired kid on the screen – you navigate and help him get to the pharmacy through your movements transmitted via webcam. After the experience, users are encouraged to contribute ideas on how to improve life for the visually impaired.
Russian charity association “The Right To Smile” is behind this incredible initiative to spread awareness on the issue, with the primary goal of helping children and a general objective to make life more comfortable and more decent for those who don’t have the gift of eyesight.
One Copy Song
These days, it’s so easy to discover new music – a simple visit to Spotify, Rdio, and Pandora will give you immediate access to popular and up-and-coming tracks. Swedish hip-hop artist and multi-Grammy winner Adam Tensta believed these methods, though helpful in spreading music, took away the excitement and anticipation that came with listening to brand-new music. His Facebook app – One Copy Song – allows one person at a time to listen to his new track, Pass it On, before passing it to the next person on the list. Anyone can get on the list through Tensta’s page, and can even advance by tweeting, watching his videos, or listening to his songs on Spotify. When your turn comes up, you only have one hour to listen and can only play the track once.
This technique got him nominated for Best Use of Social Media and an even bigger music following.
The Bullying Simulator
Here’s another one for the Best Use of Social Media category (what can we say…we love social media), where they made use of the adage, “example is the best teacher,” by showing you what not to do: Be a bully. After logging into the simulator’s application, you are brought to what looks like a Facebook account … when it is under attack with posts that threaten, comments that trash your photos, films and links that ridicule … the works. Feels awful, doesn’t it? Then don’t be a bully! That’s the message Friends – the Swedish non-profit organization behind this project – wants to spread and instill in the minds of those who are willing to listen and be decent human beings.
Right now the campaign is no longer active, but you can still experience what it feels like to be bullied through a password-protected demo.
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