Best Web Design And Development Agency: AKQA


The Force is Strong with This One

You know those creative types: always a bit off. But indie AKQA combines creative sparkle with serious strategy to create hard-working and eye-opening Web sites. With its new investment partner, General Atlantic, the UK-based shop increased revenue this year by 30 percent, while opening offices in Shanghai and Amsterdam and garnering an arm-long list of awards.

Perhaps its most innovative site of the year was "Signature" for Smirnoff Vodka. AKQA produced an animated epic that rushes headlong through the company's history in a montage of chilly whites and grays led by a ribbon of Smirnoff red. Even more compelling is the follow-up, where consumers can create their own revisionist histories. The application combines elements of the video with a mix of user-provided information, such as the name of your hometown, to generate a personal history that ends with your own name written in red in the Smirnoff logo.

"The full-fledged interaction made you part of the brand experience," says Adam Herman, president of CDS Integrated Media.

The Star Wars franchise may be 30 years old, but AKQA's redesign of the USPs homepage was of-the-moment, featuring a full "takeover" with rotating skins to celebrate the new stamp series featuring characters from the movies. The promotion let visitors choose their favorite skin (or turn off the theme) while highlighting the full range of themed products, a sweepstakes and voting for the coolest stamp.

To support the release of Trident Gum in the UK, the agency created a pseudoscientific site that included videos showing how the company achieves its product goal of "the most pleasurable chewing gum science and nature will allow." The art direction used cool, minimalist sets to make the colors of the gum pop, while reinforcing product attributes such as softness, pleasure and flavor.

In an artful marriage of branding and commerce, the agency created for Visa. The site excites the senses, and then lets visitors take advantage of offers from big-name partners.

"The campaign provides great detail on all the things you could do with your money," Herman says. "They took the best of the offline creative and brought it to life online."

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