2011 HOW Interactive Design Awards Best of Show

From captivating consumer sites to killer kiosks, HOW’s Interactive Design Awards recognize the year’s top digital projects. You can find the results all within the March 2011 issue of HOW. Second Story Interactive, the 2011 Best of Show winner, really knocked this one out of the ballpark.

Second Story's Design Your Own Ballpark Interface

There’s no shortage of armchair managers among Major League Baseball fans, but now you can promote yourself to team owner and weigh in on a lot more than the batting order. Just take a road trip to the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame and walk up to the Design Your Own Ballpark kiosk. It lets you call all the shots as you create a baseball stadium from scratch.

Designed by Second Story Interactive Studios in Portland, OR, this interactive masterpiece takes you through an easy six-step process—everything from choosing a location to picking out the seats—for putting together your dream ballpark. You make these big decisions on a 32-inch touch screen in front of you while an overhead plasma display renders your design for everyone to see. You can install an old-school scoreboard, where a real person swaps out the numbers, or spring for the giant digital display that lets you watch replays. For hardcore fans, the most alluring part might be the chance to place the outfield wall and affect how often your team scores home runs. “The coolest thing is that it’s not canned,” says Brad Johnson, co-founder and creative director of Second Story. “You really can make something completely unique. I think that kind of instantaneous creativity is compelling to people.”

Unlike some applications, there isn’t a set of pre-rendered results that come out as you make choices. Instead, your design is dynamically generated as you create, and you can move it around, rotate it and look at it from any angle. For the design team, this meant that every option within the kiosk had to work with every other option. So you could choose, say, a brick stadium with an old-school scoreboard, modern seats and a covered roof.

Second Story's Design Your Own Ballpark Interface

HOW judges were itching to get started with their own designs. “I really wanted to get my hands on this so I could try it myself,” says judge Karen McGrane. “When you’re judging what seems like thousands of entries, it’s really clear which submissions are not that engaging, and which ones really stand out.” She describes this kiosk as a prime example of how to educate and engage visitors with an interactive tool, allowing users to play with all the elements that contribute to ballpark architecture.

Case in point: The kiosk gives you feedback on how you’re doing with your newfound design powers. All the decisions you make, such as assigned seats with cup holders vs. bench seats, affect outcomes like attendance and revenue. You can make it harder to hit home runs, for instance, but then the game might not be as exciting for fans.

To make the experience realistic, Second Story worked with Populous, an architecture firm that designed the Royals Hall of Fame, to raise their ballpark design IQ. Second Story also conducted two rounds of user testing to fine-tune the experience. Early versions of the kiosk, for instance, featured nested design options, so designers streamlined the process to allow users to complete their stadiums faster. In the end, Second Story created a big experience that gives baseball fans the chance to score their own home run with a custom ballpark design.

  • Title: Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame Design Your Own Ballpark
  • Design Firm: Second Story Interactive Studios, Portland, OR
  • Creative Director: Brad Johnson
  • Designer: Christian Bannister
  • 3D Animator: Matt Arnold
  • Technology Director: Thomas Wester
  • Lead Integration Engineer: Matt Arnold
  • Developers: Vance Feldman, Matt Arnold
  • Producer: Erica Dillon
  • Production Artist: Rebecca Rosen
  • Quality Assurance: Heather Daniel, Nina Pavlich
  • Video Design: Real Media
  • A/V Integration: Edwards Technologies Inc.
  • Stadium and Exhibit Design: Populous
  • Clients: Kansas City Royals, Populous

2011 Interactive Design Awards Judges

Emily ChengMichael Ferdman is founder and president of Firstborn, an award-winning digital creative agency based in New York City. Working with agencies and brands alike on a full range of digital marketing services, Ferdman manages Firstborn’s internal business operations while maintaining the shop’s commitment to client relations. Firstborn’s digital strategies and unique aesthetic can be seen across the automotive, beverage, retail, sports, entertainment, finance and social responsibility categories. The studio has created groundbreaking work for Ford, Lands’ End, M&M’s, NBA, Puma and the U.S. Department of Treasury.

Liz DanzicoKaren McGrane has been making the internet a better place since 1995. As a senior partner at Bond Art + Science, she provides user experience design, information architecture and content strategy to clients like Fast Company, The Atlantic and Franklin Templeton. Prior to joining Bond, McGrane went from being the first information architect hired at Razorfish to being the VP of user experience. There, she led projects for clients including The New York Times, Disney and Citibank. She’s on the faculty of the MFA/interaction design program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

Illustrations of judges by Patrick McQuade.