Monday, 29 September 2008

What's Your Vacation Destination?

I continue my research today with an E Card from the 'Just Because' section of Blue Mountain. I am taking my first example of the day from Blue Mountain again because of the vast amount of variety availiable at this website.

This card is an interesting conecpt. It is for no particular occasion, making fun and 'cool' to send your friends a card that doubles up as the kind of 'fun' questionaire that Myspace and Facebook users are so fond of.

This is a clever idea because it targets a popular online activity that a) hasn't been targeted by any other company yet (To my knowledge) and b) takes an already tried and tested idea to a whole new level adding graphics, interactivity and sound - whereas you will usually recieve these questionaires in an html or ascII email format.

It asks you a series of questions within a highly forged passport and you click your choice of answer. After a several pages a 'perfect holiday destination' is shown at the end like this:

The card is then programmed to display all of your answers in a statement and reveal your perfect holiday destination. It's quite a nice idea....except the whole card is just a very clever ruse to get you to go to Costa Rica. No matter what combination of answers you put in, it always comes up to tell you to go to Costa Rica and it always shows you this lovely short video of a waterfall.

This is clever and very well made card, but I would neither send it nor like to recieve it as it has absolutley zero purpose. I don't know if this kind of 'Just Because' card would ever take off, but if somebody has gone to the effort to make this very well made, nice looking card then I can only imagine there is a market out there for this kind of thing.

Thursday, 25 September 2008


I thought it best to begin this project by doing some research into the current E-Card ‘climate’. Looking into what is available at present, who is selling E-Cards, who is using E-Cards and have already come up with several questions:

What does an E-Card entail?
What should an E-Card be?
Why could E-Card take over from ordinary cards?
Are E-Cards an artistic medium or simply a device for sending regards?
What kind of people would be interested in E-Cards?
Are E-Cards simply a gimmick?

I hope that through my research these questions will be answered and then I can move onto designing and making my E-Cards.
Blue Mountain is a website dedicated to the sending and receiving of E Cards. You join the website, which is free and then you can send certain cards for free and other you have to pay for. Just one Google search and shown me instantly that the competition for this medium is very, very high with many, many companies investing time and money into it. My initial reaction is one of shock, I didn’t know this was such a popular way of sending regards.

You can preview all the E Cards before you buy them, which you would expect to be able to do considering – but the stand out option is that you can add your own greetings and the amount of text is unlimited. This card I am about to take you through is an interactive Flash document that rather impressed me. It is a cute birthday card. You begin by clicking to open the envelope – a nice touch!

The card then neatly slides out as the envelope opens and takes up the full stage space. A message appears at the bottom in neat ‘handwriting’, making the card feel a little bit more human. When you click the basket…

Out pops a kitten…awwwwwww.

Another message! Kitty wants the ball of yarn. So you click and bedlam ensues, the kitten chases the ball of yarn getting all tangled up and making a mess, all the time with a very recognisable piece of classical music in the background and comic sound effects to help the ‘cartoon’ feel come out. The animation is smooth, but not complex.

Oooo what has he got me for my non-birthday?! Once again we get to interact..

Aww bless the kitty, he’s ‘accidentally’ made me a birthday card. What I liked most about this card was the interactivity and the idea of ‘taking the card’ out of the envelope. The image above is all you would get if this was an ordinary greeting card – but because its digital is just a little bit more special and I would be genuinely happy if I received that as a birthday card and I should image its target audience of cat lovers/women between 15-38 would love it a lot more than I do.

I'm rather impressed by this card and it is the first E-Card I have ever seen. The level of interactivity made me feel more involved with the opening of the card – something I would have missed about it not being an ordinary card. I would however have liked to have opened the card with my mouse – that is something I am going to be looking out for as I do more research. Immediately I have initial ideas and concepts buzzing around in my head which is a great start, but overall I'm just surprised by the popularity of these types of products and can completely understand why Hallmark want to break into this method of distributing cards.

A quick word before the madness…

This is one of the first projects I have begun where I know nothing about the medium I am going to be creating and investigating, which is one of the reasons I have elected to do this brief. I have neither sent nor received an E-Card in my entire life. I don’t know where to buy them, what they look like, what they do or what the current market trends and fashions are with these cards. What I do know is that they use Flash technology and are becoming quite popular and it is with this thought that I go into this project open minded, sound of thought and with willingness to discover and appreciate.

I have decided to write up all of my discoveries, work in progress and detailed analysis in this one document as a ‘blog’. That way I have a log of my daily activities to prove what I have been doing and also a complete historic account of how my work panned out and how my ideas changed whilst working through this brief. After trying and testing this method last year, I believe that this is THE best way to go about documenting your work.

I will of course be enclosing all my sketches, storyboards, concepts, scans, photocopies and other ‘scattered research’ in this very folder. I find this method of working is not only satisfying and easier to time manage, but also provides clearer results for the marker. The only difference this time around is that there will be less writing and more images with captions, so that the reader does not have to spend a ridiculous amount of time going over this entire document.