A Stunning remix

Design agency Stunning makes a music player interface for CD:UK online.

Launched in March, Celador International’s Web site for CD:UK gives fans of the popular music show the chance to see behind the scenes as well as catch up on the latest music news and enter competitions to meet their favourite stars. Further phases of the Web site will see additional content rolled out. Music downloads, ring tones, a message board, and links to fanclubs and online shops are planned, along with after-show live Web chats with presenter Cat Deeley and guests, and a music machine that plays the music featured on the previous week’s show, as well as giving a sneak preview of what’s coming up in the next episode.

While the site itself was built by Celador’s Nick Brown using Macromedia Flash MX, the company turned to graphic design and production company Stunning to create the front end of the site. Rebranded at the beginning of this year, Stunning was previously known as Harry Monk – a company set up in 1998 handling the creative output of John Carver, co-founder and creative director of The Leisure Process. With a core team of nine, Stunning works on projects for print, packaging, TV and Web as well as collaborating with sister company Cunning (and Cunning Stunts) on projects that have included Robbie Williams’ Escapology album launch. An agency whose mission is to bring brands closer to consumers, Cunning’s most famous stunt has been a giant projection of a naked Gail Porter on the House of Commons for FHM.

Along with two other companies, Stunning pitched for the CD:UK Web site in January. “We use the same strategy for all our pitches,” says Guy Blaskey of Stunning. “It’s simply to get our ideas looking great and to talk through them as clearly as possible. We also hope to show that as well as producing great creative work, we’re easy people to work with and reliable.”

The brief was for a site that would appeal to CD:UK’s target audience as a source of information not only about the TV programme but about the world of pop music in general. Celador compiled the brief with market information, brand values and audience profile, and outlined marketing and promotional plans for extending the CD:UK brand onto other platforms.

“We were briefed by Celador International to create a site that appealed to the Nokia/iPod generation – the generation that instinctively know how to use gadgets and are used to their navigation,” says Blaskey.

“Our very first idea for the site was to make it look, as well as work, like an iPod,” he explains. “Our designer Gareth Jones then took it a step further and designed his own music player in Photoshop, the idea being to give the user a better feeling of interaction when using the site.”

Both interface designs were pitched at the same time. Navigation was the same for both, though Gareth’s music player was technically more of a challenge to create, says Blaskey.

With a green light for the music player, the concept drawings were taken into Illustrator, which was used to design the site navigation, templates and animation storyboards and vector graphics for direct import into Flash MX.

Two of Stunning’s designers – Jones and Elise Wade – spent a month working on the first stage of the site design. At the same time, Celador’s programmers worked on the technical build and content management system.

“This system uses advanced database design and image-processing techniques to allow the entire site to be designed and previewed exactly as it would look online, by
a non-technical user,” explains Blaskey. The content management system is extensible so should new content type be required they can be easily designed by Stunning and then plugged into the existing site.

“Most sites that are updated this regularly and which are so content heavy are generally quite boring and simple to look at, whereas on most creative Flash sites the content does not regularly change, so the designers are less restricted,” says Blaskey.

“We wanted to make a site that fused all this together, that was great to look at and use, highly interactive, displayed all of the information in an interesting way, while being easy to update and manage.”

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