Mind-blowing design portfolio

Oh my God… Who is this Dave Werner guy and what kind of government lab built him? Simply put, this is the most effective portfolio site I have seen in years. Dave makes outstanding use of Flash video to tell the story behind each of his featured projects, ranging from print to Web to furniture design, filmmaking, writing, and game creation–sometimes all at once. As I browsed from the scrolling treasure map (see Illustrations) to “Ninja birds with Katana blades” (in “Cadence”), I felt my eyes re-open to the possibilities of technology & storytelling, much like they did when encountering From Alice To Ocean back in ’93. Damn. I just hope he doesn’t take a shine to product management… [Via Core77]

0 thoughts on “Mind-blowing design portfolio

  1. “This site requires Flash 8 . . .”
    I am not on an unlimited bandwidth connection, hence any site that requires me to download software in order to view it is, by definition, a poorly designed site. Sorry, but I can’t share your excitement.

  2. The links Tim posted are interesting, but what makes Dave Werner’s portfolio so amazing is that he’s a great story teller and communicator. He obviously has a mastery of the technology and software as well. I always tell folks that when compared to storytelling and real design skills, learning software is easy!

  3. Ralph, I think you’re cheap. So what if the site uses a pluging which you need to download? It enhances his site alright. I think he’s done brilliant.

  4. Ralph, I’m sorry you have a bandwidth limitation. You are missing the world as it moves faster into the 21st Century. Oh, and by the way. Almost everything you use on your computer needs to either be downloaded or installed off a CD, so get use to it. Plain old HTML has been dead for at least two years!!! ;-(
    Dave Werner is truely passionate about his work and it seems as though he’s going to generate a lot of business from the website he created.

  5. Exactly what I was just telling my boss…. “We need to get him!” Too bad we most likely can’t afford him. But I was inspired by his use of video.

  6. Ralph: So you can’t download ~1mb every two years? And I thought internet access on my country was deficient… oh, and aren’t you using software to view this website right now?
    You can say you don’t like it and won’t visit it, and that’s fine, but calling it bad design just because it requires a plugin is like saying a car has bad design just because you have to go to the car dealer to buy it.
    The site is very cool and requiring Flash 8 isn’t an issue – specially because it was available on ~50% of the browsers last december (and those figures are probably bigger by now).
    Think about it – if we were following that ‘design’ principle you follow, we would be reading a text file on Lynx using a green CGA display instead of viewing full-color videos with narration. Looks like ‘pushing forward’ to some is ‘doing bad design’ for others.

  7. Flash only sites don’t get my visits but more importantly they don’t get my business and my money because of that, and I spend a lot (seven figures) online each year. Why? Because for every *ONE* site that has truly added value through the use of flash there are hundreds that used it simply because it was easier and cheaper. Worse than that, to support viewing that one I get stuck with software that allows tens of thousands of sites to barrage me with flash ads for crap products I wouldn’t buy if last months Playboy centerfold were giving me a free naked lap dance while she was hawking the product.
    [Classy & articulate. –J.]

  8. Wow!
    After spending time reviewing this impressive portfolio site, I sent the link to as many friends who use designers as I could think of with the following note:
    “I’m not sure if you are in the market for a designerat this time, but this link will show you the portfolio of a recent graduate who seems to have major talent (IMHO). Spending a coffee break with these fresh, young ideas is a pause that will refresh you.”

  9. Zeh: I think you missed the point of my “bad design” comment. In fact, I am certain that you did.
    Neal: I am in full agreement with you. It has nothing to do with money and everything to do with principal. Flash is a severely over-used medium and I am not willing to spend my time to find the exceptions. Flash is, imo, a gimmick technology.

  10. Based on Ralph’s line of thinking, HTML is an even more over-used medium. I suggest we stop using the web entirely.
    Ralph, I trust you’re still using Lynx or NCSA Mosaic as your only browser? Wouldn’t want to download a new browser, would we?
    As for the portfolio, it’s a work of art. Nice work Dave!

  11. Ralph, your comment about not wanting to spend your time finding exceptions to your “flash is an overused gimmick” rule is moot. John has done you (and all of us) the service of finding and posting a link to an exceptional Flash site, where Flash is used not as a gimmick, but as a valuable component of Dave Werner’s creative arsenal. Dave’s skill is brilliant visual storytelling, and his use of Flash underscores how much creative horsepower this guy has under the hood, and how multimedia can be used far more effectively than just a “gimmick”.

  12. Holy Smokes. That is one of the most engaging web sites I have ever visited. I concur that besides great design talent and technical skill, this guy is a very good writer / orator. Whichever company hires him (assuming he doesn’t start his own) will be lucky to have him. Thanks for posting the link!

  13. Sorry, Margot (and anyone else who has missed the point of what I’m trying to say here), the point is not moot, but maybe I’ve been too subtle. If I go to your site and the first thing I am presented with is a requirement to download something that is not standard in any browser that I am aware of, you are then asking me to do your work for you. At least show me your hand, show me *why* I should go that extra step for your site. Don’t ever show me an opening page with virtually nothing on it and say, “you must download this to proceed”. It is, if nothing else, saying that you didn’t care enough about your visitor to let her know why that step is a good thing.

  14. Ralph, whatever the reason for your not having Flash (a conscious decision on your part if I had to guess), ultimately a huge percentage of web users DO have it. So it’s perfectly reasonable for Mr. Werner to use it as an integral part of his site. This isn’t some obscure 3D/VR plugin or even REAL Media. It’s much more pervasive than that. Nor does Flash video require huge amounts of bandwidth to work effectively. Take a deep breath, spend 5 minutes to download and install the plugin, and see what everyone is talking about. Not all Flash sites are evil incarnate, as some developers seem to think. Context is everything.

  15. Holy schmoly. Um, Ralph? Methinks you’ve got one or two screws tightened down a bit too hard. Like about 700 foot-pounds too hard.
    Dave couldn’t have achieved his goal without Flash, and nobody in their right mind would spend time creating HTML mirrors for the

  16. Dan, if context is everything, then the author of a site should offer the viewer a context before asking that viewer to take extra steps to view that site. BTW, I do have Flash, I didn’t have Flash 8 when I encountered Dave’s site for the 1st time (via the link given here). I have seen what everyone was talking about and it was well worth the visit. My points still stand. Tell the viewer why the extra step is necessary. Without John’s recommendation, I would never have given the site a second look.
    Splashman, Dave could have achieved his goal a hundred other ways had he so chosen. He chose to use something that is non-standard and he chose to give the viewer no particular reason to take the extra step to view his site. Those are, imo, bad choices.

  17. Ralph,
    Dave just graduated, and he created this digital portfolio to send to prospective employers who would also receive a letter of recommendation from the school president, explaining the purpose of the project, etc. His *intended* viewers would have ample incentive to access the site.
    A brief aside: As a former instructor of Dave’s, I’m in awe of his brains and talent, as well as his initiative, motivation, and dedication. Here is a twenty-five-year-old who has something to teach us all, and yet he stands ready to LEARN from everyone and everything he encounters. He’s also humble, grateful, and considerate of criticism. He will, no doubt, listen to what you’ve said–without taking it personally–and put your comments to good use.
    Back to the issue: So now, because of its excellence, his site has found its way into the public arena. Good for him. And you’re overlooking its original purpose. Give Dave his props.
    This isn’t the last you’ll see of him, either.

  18. A perfect example of creative and engaging content, and hopefully a vision for what our kids will do as they become digital communicators. It’s not about using Flash (or PowerPoint or Photoshop) because you have to, it’s because it can be more productive, more engaging, more compelling, and create higher levels of retention (no matter what the content)…if done right – and this is certainly one of those examples. wow.

  19. Tania,
    thanks much for your reasoned and incisive comments. A little back story is a wonderful thing. 🙂
    I fully agree with you as to Dave’s talents and with the last line of your post.
    My regards and wishes for a successful future to Dave.

  20. Wow! What a awesome portfolio. I have never seen anything like this before.
    I love the use of video to show us his process. It’s on another level then reading the process on-line. Plus he’s a great designer too.

  21. Although the site is great, from a marketing standpoint I would have to say it is not effective. I have always felt that until everyone in the world has a high speed connection that a site should be simple and be able to load quickly on any connection. His site is awesome and I loved it, but I’m not sure if it really achieves anything specific.

  22. I have an honest question… would you have posted about this if Flash wasn’t part of the Adobe family?
    [It’s a good question. Yes, I would post the gallery. I might not have trumpted Flash per se (not that I really did with Flash being an Adobe product, either), but I would have held it up as an example of great design, production, and most importantly storytelling. If and when we lost sight of the fact that it’s all about the work, the creativity, and the expression made possible by the tools–and not about the tools themselves–it’d be time to quit. –J.]

  23. Holy goat this kid is amazing. I feel like someone who is still using neon blinking text compared to this guy. I am at once humbled and envious and inspired. I’m 75% done with my new site and now I feel like an ass clown, but strangely, it was worth it. If I had a company, I’d hire him in a second.
    [Heh–I know exactly what you mean. –J.]

  24. ralph, i must say that you’re incredibly stubborn. please acknowledge that the average internet user who isn’t looking for a designer may not ever have the need for downloading Flash. anyone who is anyone in design and interactive media arts will have either Flash 7 or 8 on their computer and will also know and appreicate it’s value.
    that being said, the site is kick ass and i am blown away! dave has certainly set the bar high for the rest of us as we design our sites to gain clients or to get jobs.

    I was out trolling the web looking at other designers’ portfolios and found this blog. I clicked on Dave’s bio and –discounting my own demoralization– am blown away. The argument of to Flash or not to Flash has nothing to do with this amazing designer.

  26. I personally love flash for one reason: There is only one implementation per version. I would make all my websites in flash if I could, even the mundane simple ones just because I would not to keep 15 different browsers on my computer and try to get the important ones to like my web page.
    Its bad attitudes about it that prevent me from doing so.
    Writing DHTML just sucks.

  27. I think Ralph means to have a simple HTML version in addition to the amazing flash version. That way, everyone and anyone will have access to his portfolio.

  28. Such a compelling concept of process demonstration. Dave’s site is totally out of the box. It is his thinking that I appreciate.

  29. Although I am not too impressed with the content in the portfolio, the portfolio layout itself is pretty nice. I especially like the use of movies.

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