Liberty Plc

UI Design, Web development (Westwood Design and Marketing Consultancy, )

A site for a prestigious commercial property development firm.

Liberty Plc are property developers with clients such as Barclays Bank. HSBC, ING, NatWest and Nationwide. Their buildings are occupied by companies such as BMW, Burger King, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Gap, HP, Shell and Xerox.

In 2002, Liberty (then Liberty Properties Plc) required a site that stood out from the competition. Something less drab and formal than other property developers. I was involved in the consultation stage, visited their head office and speaking with a member of the senior management team. The brief was very loosely defined, since they hand worked with WMDC previously, and trusted their judgement.

The creative director worked on visualising the site. He was directly inspired by the then- current MTV2 site, although the final product had little in common with that site other than an isometric layout of building blocks.

As I built the site in Flash, we iterated and re-iterated the design several times: often ideas for transitions and animations I prototyped would lead to changes in the layout of each section, and those would further inspire me to push the concepts further. The site was visually different but I felt we had not carried the concept as far as we could. Inspired directly by the NASA20.com site then online, I suggested a combined helper / navigation device: A small cube which followed the mouse cursor at a respectful distance. When the user rolled the mouse over an interactive element on screen, the cube would stop in its tracks and display a tool tip, informing the user that they could click the item, and letting them know what would happen if they did. Examples included 'Scroll up' on an Up arrow alongside a list, or &Download PDF' when rolling over a brochure icon. It was also possible to roll over the cube and clicking on it would present the main navigation.

The completed prototype was the last work I did for WMDC, and was refined some months later by another freelancer. Interestingly, he also applied for the position at Eclipse in 2003, and used the same site on his portfolio. The fact that I had built the original and he had merely finessed it (and attempted to pass it off as 100% his own work) worked out better for me than it did him.

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