DX Award :: Cartier


There are a few times online when you are surfing and you come across something that is so dynamic, so beautiful, and so well-conceived that you just sit back (as a designer) and say, “I wish I had done that.” The Cartier website is just that sort of site.  Fine jewelry, typography, romance, design, and emotion are combined into what can only be termed an absolutely stunning presentation of the Cartier line. With a company like Cartier, well-known for its beautiful jewelry and accessories, the website would have to be of the finest quality — after all, the online site is a direct reflection of a company’s products, services, and company.


ARCHIVED DESIGN AWARD PAGE :: 1999 DX AWARDS

This page is republished for historical and archival reasons, highlighting the history of online design and the work of some of the many talented individuals who were instrumental in the early days of online media.


We are honored to select Cartier as this week’s recipient of the IPPA’s Award for Design Excellence.


There are a few times online when you are surfing and you come across something that is so dynamic, so beautiful, and so well-conceived that you just sit back (as a designer) and say, “I wish I had done that.” The Cartier website is just that sort of site.

Fine jewelry, typography, romance, design, and emotion are combined into what can only be termed an absolutely stunning presentation of the Cartier line. With a company like Cartier, well-known for its beautiful jewelry and accessories, the website would have to be of the finest quality — after all, the online site is a direct reflection of a company’s products, services, and company.

Cartier doesn’t disappoint. The site is extensively based on Flash, which is used to promote the emotional underpinnings of Cartier’s fine jewelry. Images of men giving gifts to women, the reaction she has, the motion and strength of love, all combine beautifully in Cartier’s opening sequence.

From there, the site moves directly into it’s main menu, offering links to News, Magazine, Creations, Design Secrets, and Cartier and You, which will offer a set of screen savers to viewers. Of course, for a company like Cartier, you don’t have a link entitled, “Stuff” for your product — instead, the much more appealing “Creations” is offered. Click on in and you will find that each individual piece is rendered with subtle, yet powerful moving graphics. Motion is used to add excitement to the pieces, not to distract the viewer by yet another example of “cool” technology at work on the Net.

The link entitled Magazine offers an interesting Flash-based an motion-graphics ezine of art and culture, fostering Cartier’s brand alignment with those themes. The

Throughout the site, you will find some interesting uses of Flash in navigation. In presenting some of the menu options, Cartier breaks new ground with its mouseover strategies. On many screens, two links are presented one next to and larger than the other, channeling the visitor the site’s highpoints. Put your mouse on one of the links and it will swap with the other to become the larger of the two. Click it and you move on. Then, when you are inside the site, the same strategy is again in use, only this time with images and words. Two images, one larger than the other, plus text are the offering. Put your mouse on the smaller image and it swaps to become larger, while the text changes as well to describe this second piece. This is a very clever and intuitive use of interactive space.

Throughout the site, sound is used in a limited, well-focused manner. You won’t find yourself overpowered with repetitive sequences of high energy drums and electric guitar chords. In short, rhythms are not used as a crutch to support marginal graphics. This site stands equally well with the sound on or off — try it with your speakers unplugged.

You can measure the quality of many sound-enhanced presentations just by how they handle the transitions, or time between sounds. Most simply end one sound track — going to abrupt silence — and then begin another when it is loaded. The best designers will fade one sound seamlessly into the next. At the Cartier site, the designers have yet to master that complicated and difficult issue. Keep in mind, however, that most designers have yet to tackle this problem and the tools we have available offer only half solutions at best.

One of the technical problems that plague all Flash presentations is the unbelievable downloads required to really things right. Most websites simply aren’t worth the wait. Cartier, however, is more than worth every second. When the presentation is this good, it will hold your interest. Still, it makes me wish that the world was all wired with ADSL — it will happen, someday.

Another problem with Flash is that although the installed base is perhaps higher than 70 percent, many users still have older versions. Since you can’t detect the version of the plug-in in use dynamically, there is nothing for a designer to do but hope that everything will work out all right for the viewer. If it doesn’t, and a user has an older version of Flash, they will simply see a blank page — no explanation, no click here to go back, nothing: just a blank page. Until there are ways to work around that — and the solution is in the hands of Macromedia alone — a generation of designers will approach Flash with some concern.

All in all, Cartier has extended the power and quality of its brand online in the most effective way imaginable. Furthermore, they have done it with the words, “First Issue” — this tells you that there is more to come and gives you that all important reason to come back. You’ll love this site — and you know it is only going to get better.

Check it out and get something special for someone you love.

Scoring (10 is Maximum):

Graphics Design…….. 8.8
Programming………… 8.1
Content and Copy…… 7.7