We were recently approached to create a flash microsite for one of the world’s leading brands, Kodak. Dubbed “America’s Ink Stain”, our task was to create an encouraging place for people to chime in on their frustrations with overpriced printer ink, and then display and track those frustrations on a map.
The most obvious challenge to the project was an enormously tight deadline.
From concept to prototype, the final product was due in just 23 days. The site had to not only be functioning, but also be stable enough to handle thousands of users.
The client wanted a familiar and reliable mapping solution for the project, so the natural choice was to use Google Maps. However, we took it a step further by using custom map tiles, controls, and color palettes to create an environment that was not only visually pleasing, but also seamlessly blended with Kodak’s other web properties.
Upon visiting the site, the user is presented with a map of ink stains representing everyone who has overpaid for printer ink. To maintain the site’s performance, when large numbers of stains were bunched together in major cities, we used special software that clustered them into groups. When users zoomed in, these clusters broke back out into smaller individual ink stains. Clicking on any stain resulted in a larger, pop-up view of that particular user’s explanation of what printer ink has cost them. There was even the option to search specifically by zip code.
At any point, users could add a stain of their own by clicking the “Add your stain” button. After entering their name and zip code, and a brief description of what overpriced ink has cost them, the map directed them to their location and dropped an ink stain on it. The stain could easily be dragged and dropped to fine-tune its position.
We also incorporated the ever-popular social media technologies like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter that allowed users to share the site with others, and communicate to a larger audience.
America’s Ink Stain became a huge success and definitely made its mark on the minds of consumers far and wide. Please, just don’t ask us to print the results in color.