When it come to the Olympics, what do we really care about? The Opening Ceremonies. Maybe, but no one will top China’s. World unity? C’mon, it’s a competition–we’re basically at polite war. OK–so Phelps, then it’s got to be Phelps. Yet do we care about Michael Phelps’ time in the 100m fly? Nope, not even that. We just want to know if he won.
This is the core design philosophy behind three new, minimal Olympic sites. They’re the collective antithesis to nbcolympics.com, covering granular information with an unfettered layout devoid of audio clips, listicles and even ads. They’re also a sign of current web technologies. Developers and publications can piece together fun microsites within weeks rather than months–the perfect fodder for our Olympic-level attention spans (which, in fact, last precisely 16 days).
Here are three favorites.
Was an Olympic Record Set Today?
It doesn’t get any simpler than this. Was an Olympic record set today, or wasn’t it? By The Guardian, the web app answers its own question with a massive YES or NO. Look a little closer, and you’ll see some secondary information lurking below. Namely, each category that’s achieved a new OR this year is highlighted as a simple icon. On a second page, there’s also an option to view all of the ORs set this year. (Most were in swimming.) That’s it.
The Rising of Olympic Mountains
We think of China as a medal-manufacturing powerhouse, a contender in almost every event (eerily similar to the US in this regard, reminding us that our days are numbered, but I digress). This wasn’t always the case. The Rising of Olympic Mountains is a single visualization by Christian Gross, a bar graph mountain of medals garnered over the past 112 years, repeated for every country. Highlight any one bar, and you’ll see the country’s medals in that category, plus every other country’s medals across all these tiny mountains will glow in tandem. But honestly, the best part of the site is that it enables you to appreciate the countries with single medals as much as the global superpowers.
Developed in 11 days by a skeleton crew at Mother, Animal’s Medal Count may win the gold for my makeshift minimal site Olympics. Its function? An ongoing medal count of every country. A clear grid design allows you to add your four favorites to the top of the page. Audio alerts can ping your browser while at work. And whomever has the most golds is in gold because “golds are all that really matters.”
But as enjoyable as these sites can be to users, are they worth it to the talent piecing them together? I asked Joel Johnson, former colleague and Animal’s Managing Editor, if medalcount.com has paid off.
It depends on how you account for the value of worth. (Or the worth of value.) It did.
It’s been doing about 25k uniques a day since it launched, but we’re obviously not monetizing it in any direct way. (There wasn’t time to line up a sponsor, for instance.) But as a brand-awareness play, divided by the amount of money (low thousands) spent on development due to the utilization of in-house resources and old fashioned spare time, it looks like it will have been worth it. (We’ve still got almost two weeks to go.)
Not bad, seeing as you can look up a medal count on Google with ease. It’s just not nearly so much understated fun.