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6 Amazing Microsites and Why They're So Effective

Nonetheless, microsites continue to prove successful for brands and businesses. They just don’t get the same coverage they used to, in the same way that podcasts and email suffered for some time. We aim to make up for that.
Here are some brilliant microsites you may have missed over the years.

1. - Linda Dong

To gain support for the FRAC Act (Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act), designer and coder Linda Dong built a gorgeous microsite to warn people about the dangers of hydraulic fracturing. The story begins with a drop of water falling from the sky, and as you scroll down, you follow it as it lands on a truck and is taken to a fracturing site and sent through a drilled pipeline underground. Along the way, you encounter floating facts and stats about the fracturing process and its dangers. In case you’re wondering, here are some of the highlights: Approximately 40,000 gallons of chemicals are used per fracturing. With 500,000 active gas wells in the US, 8 million gallons of water per fracking, and 18 times that a well can be fracked, the process requires 72 trillion gallons of water and 360 billion gallons of chemicals to run our current gas wells. The story ends with a question: “Don’t think it’s worth it?” and two simple calls to action: “Contact your local officials” and “Join or support your local organization.” Dong was successful in turning a rather dull and complex topic into an interesting one that’s easy to understand. Through its parallax design, compelling visuals, simplistic content and design, and clear cut calls to action, she hit every checkbox on the list and definitely set the bar high for the rest of us.

<Note: the website is not live any longer, but we collected a good set of screenshots below>

2. The Ahh Effect - Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola is quite possibly the king of microsites (Digiday). In 2013, the company launched “The Ahh Effect,” a set of 50-and-growing microsites. Each site has a distinct URL, each with a different number of “h’s” at the end of “ah.” You can play a game of “Cat or Not,” ice toss, guide the bubble, and so much more. If you enter ah with three “h’s,” you get bottle rocket, a game where you tap your spacebar to fuel a Coke-bottle rocket and then launch it. Once you make it to the sky, you can have another go at it and soar into the stratosphere, and then into deep space, and then once more to a place called “Get Weird,” where you will find unicorns, flying lips, and other oddities roaming around. The microsite invites you to discover the next ahh, where you are met with suggestions of what Coca-Cola thinks you’ll particularly like. The company clearly understands its audience, what it likes, and how it likes to engage. The sites were created by Wieden & Kennedy Portland. It was an ongoing project, with more URLs added as time went on.

3. Adventure Cycling Association

A story about an adventure into Canada’s "wet and wild" lands, Ryan Stuart recounts his attempt to mountain bike the remains of a 200-mile-long U.S. Army oil pipeline, the Canol Heritage Trail, with companions, Ryan Creary, Paul Christensen, and Anthony DeLorenzo. The feat hadn’t been accomplished in more than 20 years and required most backpackers 22 days with two food drops. The intrepid crew set out to do it in 10, with no resupply. The tale is captivating, taking readers along the way as they cross treacherous rivers, hike a boulder-filled canyon, and encounter a few too many bears. You really get a sense of their exhaustion, anguish, and frustrations throughout the story. You can almost feel the bitter cold air on your skin. Ryan Stuart is a fantastic storyteller (and mountain biker, it would seem), and although the microsite contains much more copy than the other examples in this post, it is broken up into manageable chunks, separated by images taken on the actual trail. The microsite is clearly targeted to an adventurous audience, who is encouraged to take action and join the Adventure Cycling Association and share the story on social media.

4. - Bolthouse Farms

This is the image that first appears when you arrive to Bolthouse Farms’ #URWHATUPOST microsite. The company created the site to show people how many social media conversations were happening about healthy food versus unhealthy foods. The site challenged visitors to only post healthy foods for a day to help them reach a record of 1 million fruit and veggie posts per day. Bolthouse Farms tracked the health of the internet by collecting 185 million food hashtags on Twitter and Instagram to draw a contrast between healthy foods like #kale against unhealthy foods like #pizza.
The micro-site is very on-brand with a goal that’s consistent with the company’s mission: to change the way people think (and post) about fresh fruit and veggies. Bolthouse Farms shows just how much you can do with a microsite. The page is full of animated images, from spinning artichokes to bouncing brussels sprouts, which periodically display words and numbers. Click on a food item and the fun begins. For example, click on an avocado and you can play a game of “Guac-A-Mole.” Click on a beet, and you can make your own “Beet Box” tune. The sky was the limit for the people at Bolthouse Farms, who clearly had a lot of fun brainstorming ideas to engage visitors and entice them to share.

5. - Waterwise

To generate awareness about water efficiency, Waterwise created this cute, interactive microsite with the help of creative agency Nice and Serious. It begins with a cartoon man, sound asleep at night, and as you scroll down, the sun rises, his eyes widen, and the first words appear. They read: “In the UK we each use around 150 litres of water per day. But this is only part of the picture. When you consider the water required to produce all the stuff we consume, we actually guzzle a massive 4,645 litres every day.” The site uses fun parallax scrolling to take viewers through the man's day. It is shocking to learn how much water is used for every shower (10 gallons / 40 liters per 5 minutes), bath (21 gallons / 80 liters), clothing item (2,401 gallons per pound / 20,000 liters per 1kg), food (1,800 gallons per pound / 15,000 liters per 1kg beef) and beverage (34 gallons / 130 liters per cup of coffee) we consume.
The story ends as cartoon-man’s day concludes, on the sofa by the TV, as most of our’s do. The TV in this tale is an embedded video with more information on what people can do to save water. The video has consistent branding and is filled with actionable steps to implement in your day-to-day. While there could have been more CTAs throughout, overall they did a really nice job with this microsite. It is educational, engaging and appropriate for all ages, which can be a difficult task to master. Props to Waterwise and Nice and Serious. Well done.

6. - Travers Smith

The microsite is based on a survey by Debtwire on behalf of Travers Smith, an elite corporate law firm in the UK, focusing on investments made by 150 private equity firms over a 12-month period. The first page contains the study’s key findings, which are summarized visually in neat little diagrams. The site’s audience is likely to appreciate that it gets straight to the point, addressing the evolution of European private equity funding with hard numbers and figures. In the pages that follow, you can find more insights and information, displayed in a nice mixture of text, charts, graphs, and images. The microsite is highly targeted by industry and age, but even those outside the financing field can admire how the firm was able to relay such a complicated topic in a unique and engaging way.
The company does a great job communicating the study’s findings succinctly. Beyond that, the site helps establish the firm as a thought leader in the field with pages on pages of useful content. In addition to placing social share buttons throughout the publication, the final call to action is a contact page for interested parties who want to follow up. It’s a smart move and demonstrates a level of transparency that many firms lack. They understand the user’s wants and needs and show an eagerness to provide a solution.
Despite what some critics have claimed, the microsite is still very much alive (and well, I might add).
Why then have so many predicted the death of the microsite?
Perhaps it has something to do with Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS), an undying attraction to the next big thing. In such an innovative field, it's no wonder the microsite was buried beneath the wave of new tech the past decade has seen, that this past year alone has seen.
Start publishing microsites like Deloitte, IBM, and Nike.

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