AZ Awards

Azure Publishing

For more than a decade AZURE Magazine‘s AZ Awards has celebrated the best and brightest in architecture, design, and interiors. The awards receive thousands of submissions from across the globe, with the finalists representing excellence in innovation, aesthetics, creativity, and social and environmental responsibility. In 2020, amidst considerable uncertainty about the future of in-person events, AZURE Magazine shifted its annual awards gala to a live online event. For the 2021 awards, AZURE and O/B identified significant ‘Zoom fatigue’ from online events and wanted to create something truly unique. Teased on social media throughout the spring and then launched in June across all of AZURE’s channels, the 2021 AZ Awards reveal experience redefined what an online gala could be.

Providing a mix of real-time and asynchronous experiences, the 2021 AZ Awards allows visitors to explore the winners and finalists, learn more about the jury, trophy, and legacy of the awards, and engage in meaningful ways with the AZ Awards partners and sponsors. Video content is used sparingly and for the biggest possible impact, in order to elevate the gala beyond a passive viewing experience. The reveal experience is structured around a main ‘welcome’ page that highlights key facts and figures, spotlights the jury and trophy, and then transitions into a ‘rolodex’ of award categories. While the Welcome page is a rich, guided narrative, the interior of the site is structured around the various categories of the awards, and can be browsed in the order, and at a pace the user is most comfortable with. This approach also empowers finalists and winners to share the reveal experience for their category, providing multiple entry points for the broader audience.

In addition to featuring the best of the best in the industry, the AZ Awards is also an opportunity for some of the biggest brands in architecture, design, and interiors to engage with a high value audience. For this reason, the AZ Awards 2021 is designed from the ground up to highlight and present custom content from AZURE’s partners and sponsors in a way that feels seamless and natural. Partners and sponsors are able to spotlight products and messaging relevant to specific categories, alongside profiles of the winners and finalists and winners, and high impact video slots are placed throughout the welcome page experience.

Conceived, designed and built in less than 8 weeks, the AZ Awards posed some unique challenges–not the least of which being the tight and immovable deadline. In order to make the timing possible, ensure a strong linkage to the parent brand, and enable a backdoor upgrade to the magazine website itself, O/B proposed a ‘fork’ approach, where the online experience would be built on a fork of the main magazine website (which O/B also designed and built). The fork approach enabled us to start with a strong foundation, quickly iterate and innovate on top of it, and will allow for some of the new experiences and components to be back-ported to the main magazine website. This approach also meant that the AZURE editorial team was working with a toolbox of components with which they had significant experience as they developed more than 70 finalist and winner spotlight posts.

Beyond 2021, an archive of past reveals will continue to live on the site, incorporating a condensed ‘digest’ of some of the key experiences from the year, alongside all of the high value content provided by finalists, winners, partners and sponsors–creating a lasting impression for years to come. For future years of the awards–and regardless of how in-person events may be impacted–the AZURE Magazine team will be able to create and launch new and unique reveal experiences that build on the platform established for the 2021 awards.

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