- Game design

The Good, the Obvious and the New: Are Sleek Design and Gamification the Future of Web Design?

The obvious – Give your website a look and feel the will never forget (at least in the next six months, when everything will change again).

Users are now more aware of what’s hot and what’s not when it comes to web design. Perhaps, thanks to Apple, our conception of electronic/online/nerdy stuff aesthetics has changed forever, from a “must be functional, the rest is useless grooming” approach to the epiphany that appealing design, user-friendly websites, and smart branding can make a company’s fortune.

Moreover, as DIY websites and soulless templates plague the Internet, it is easier now to tell quality from rubbish. And, if you have not been living in a cave since England won the World Cup, you know that cheap photos, dodgy-looking graphics and a dull template do not say good things about your brand or company, and the way to do things.

Three (hopefully) obvious points on how the design of your website should be:

• Solid

• Unique (or at least special, different)

• Consistent – ideally, your brand should be able to stand the test of time FOREVER, and, as we said elsewhere, everything about it should have the same twist – even the font you choose for the “Back in 5” sign talks about your brand.

The new – Gamification.

“Gamification” is becoming increasingly popular in every aspect of design and user experience; it can be described as the use of game design techniques to non-game processes, in order to engage the audience and make them solve tasks and issues (even tedious and unpleasant ones, such as completing surveys).

From Foursquare to Domino’s “Pizza Hero” for iPad and the “Gamification of Income Tax”, everybody is getting on board. Even unexpected institutions are taking the issue rather seriously: Tom Kalil, deputy director for policy for the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House sees the potential of online gaming techniques applied to business, education and other governmental matters.In other contexts, an extraordinary example of gamification is the piano staircase, an ingenious work of design that proved incredibly effective: the engagement has been so high, the number of people choosing the stairs over the escalator increased by 66%.

This is not a catchy-song-sung-by-an-attractive-young-lady-incredibly-famous-for-five-minutes-and-then-ciao, folks: a 2011 Gartner Research Report claims that by 2015, more than 50% of “organizations that manage innovation processes” will gamify said processes. The Report also claimed that ‘Over 70% of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one gamified application by 2015’.

The good – Case study: Molinari Sambuca Extra.

We like to do things mixing innovation, creativity, and functionality. That’s what we did for the new Molinari website, that contains all the freshest and tastiest ingredients: games, top-notch design, good content, supported by a social media presence that mirrors the brand’s philosophy – clarity, transparency and simplicity – and focuses on storytelling. The page has been creating using Flash, while the mobile version is iPhone and iPad friendly.

I am pretty sure you are somehow familiar with Sambuca – whether you had it in Italy after a meal or last Friday with your pals in that pub in Acton – but not many know the story behind this historic brand.

In Italy, Molinari stands for Sambuca. In the world, its name evokes the concept of “Made in Italy” and its premium quality standards. Back in 1945, in Civitavecchia, Angelo Molinari, an experienced and skilled “liquorista”, establishes the company and creates a first-class product, with an unmistakable flavour: Sambuca Extra. Produced for the first fourteen years by artisans following the traditional methods, Sambuca Extra Molinari quickly grew in popularity all over Italy, becoming the emblematic drink of the Dolce Vita, in Rome.

Angelo Molinari himself suggested Sambuca to the bartenders of Via Veneto, which used to serve it with coffee beans (preferably in odd number, for reasons related to superstition). The so-called “Sambuca con la mosca” (literally, “Sambuca with the fly”) was born.

Molinari’s success is due to an effective, truly original, often pioneering communication strategy, made of commercials – the famous “caroselli” – testimonials and catchphrases that shaped the future of Italian advertisement. The most famous slogan is probably Walter Chiari’s “Bere troppo fa male, bere male fa peggio, bevi poco ma bene, bevi Sambuca Molinari” (“Drinking too much is bad, drinking bad stuff is worse, drink good quality in little quantities, drink Sambuca Molinari”).

Almost thirty years before the “drink responsibly” campaigns, Molinari was already inviting people to consume alcoholic beverages in moderation, and they still do.