The launch of Nike’s Better World website in 2011 marked a turning point in the way we see and use the web. The site used parallax scrolling, single page navigation, and eye-catching visuals in a fresh and exciting way. The single page layout engaged the viewer with rich, interactive storytelling and encouraged deeper exploration. Soon, a number of look-alike websites appeared on the scene, all trying to cash in on this cool, new online experience.
You may not be familiar with the term parallax, as it’s fairly new to the web, but it’s actually a technique that has been around since the early days of cartoon animation. Simply put, the illusion of depth is created by having one layer move faster or slower than another layer above it. Walt Disney’s Steamboat Willie is an early example. Later, side scrolling video games, like Nintendo’s Megaman, used the technique.
Like all things web 2.0, there are some pitfalls to look out for, such as cross-browser compatibility issues and in some cases slower load times. Before using any technique, consider your audience and the purpose of your site. For example, single page navigation would be a nightmare on an entire college website, but an admissions page or fundraising microsite could use the technique amazingly well. This Bay State College online admission’s viewbook is one good example.
The parallax trend shows no sign of fading away. With the rise of tablets and other touch screens, it’s no wonder these techniques have been embraced by so many designers.
Here are a few more examples of some stunning and effective single page websites:
“We aspire not just to be different from other schools, not even just to lead, but to show a new way.” This quote by Bernard T. Ferrari, dean of Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, introduces a new positioning concept we developed for the school’s Global MBA program. Lean copy and sumptuous photography emphasize Carey Business School’s commitment to educating business leaders who are prepared to tackle the most pressing issues of our time.
The Netflix show House of Cards has received high praise for being the first successful online-only drama series. Now, they’re turning heads again. The show made Emmy history for being the first online program to be nominated for Best Drama Series, a prestigious Emmy Award category.
Television networks battle to attract the most viewers. For decades, that race was limited to four major studios—ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX. The arrival of Netflix’s “House of Cards” is upsetting the status quo in spite of its comparatively limited production budgets. Netflix understands that it’s not the size of the budget but the quality of the creative concept that attracts viewers. The best way to deliver your message is simply to develop great ideas.
This fact applies not only to television. Businesses, organizations, and institutions should also take note. Instead of wasting precious dollars developing the glossiest brochure, the loudest commercial, or the flashiest website, pay more attention to finding creative solutions. You may think your luck could be better, but as Netflix shows, it’s all in how you play your hand.
David Thompson, GCF intern
The creators of the movie, Monsters University, have done their homework. To help promote the film, they built a Monsters University website with links to admission, academics, campus life, and faculty and student profiles. The site delivers familiar college marketing language with an amusing twist. Phrases such as “a history of excellence in shrieking,” “developing the whole monster,” and “a relentless pursuit of monster potential” abound. Here’s the introduction to the academic program:
As a renowned institution of multidisciplinary scholarship, Monsters University holds its faculty, staff, and students to high standard and ongoing commitment to discovery and learning. Students of every shape, size, color, and texture arrive from every corner of the world to take their places among the best and brightest students in the world. Whether your talent is causing screams or designing the canisters that capture them, MU is a place to find your truest calling and reach your highest potential.
How much does your college marketing resemble MU’s? I’m sure we will all see a similarity or two. The beauty of satire is that it makes us laugh at ourselves while pointing out the things we need to change to improve.
Millennials love being at the cutting edge and, for the most part, they are the ones pushing the technological envelope. However, when it comes to education, they have not abandoned the traditional classroom.
Even though online classroom enrollment has increased by 25% in the past four years, a recent survey found that 78% of college students still value the in-class environment. Although 80% of students use technology while in class, only half of them felt that technology is essential to their education.
What does this all mean? As a millennial college student, I suspect it means that we love our technology, but even more, we value the up-close and personal interaction that you can only find in the traditional classroom.
David Thompson, GCF intern