Fictional Web Design in Real Life

Posted by on Feb 6, 2013 in Blog | One Comment
Fictional Web Design in Real Life

One of our greatest joys is when a TV show, movie, or commercial references a fictional website and then goes to the effort of designing an actual website to legitimize the reference. Fine, this isn’t our greatest joy, but we sure do get a kick out of it.

The most recent example of this was at the Superbowl. While everyone was talking about the power outage, Beyoncé, or you know, the football game, I was Googling “Monster University”.

In the past, references to things searchable in the real world were kept to a minimum and purposely led the public to a dead end. We’re talking about “555” phone numbers, fake restaurant names, and non-existent addresses. The internet changed all that, giving the ability to create added layers to screen mentions for very little cost to the creators. Fans love to extend the experience beyond the film or show and are often thrilled to find that the creators do as well. Because this has become so common, it’s often disappointing to find that a referenced website doesn’t exist.

Here are a few of our favourite existing websites based on fictional references:

1.  Monster University – This advertising campaign launched appropriately during the Rose Bowl, but the commercial played again during the Superbowl and deserves a mention. The ad looks like a promo for any other college, except when it gets to the part where everyone is a monster. The site is a part of a campaign for the prequel to Monsters Inc., which is due later this year.

3. The City of Pawnee – Pawnee, Indiana is the setting of Parks and Recreation and has an impressively mundane site attached to it – precisely what you would expect of the fictional community. Unfortunately, the site also advertises the show, which loses some of the effect, in my opinion.

2. Barney’s Video Resume – There are countless sites we could mention with regards to How I Met Your Mother, but let’s go with Barney’s video resume. The show loves doing this so much that they have a staff position dedicated to designing fictional websites. The show’s creators say that these sites receive thousands of visitors and usually crash in the first fifteen minutes after the show references the site.

3. The Science of Deduction and The Personal Blog of Dr. John H. Watson – Fans of Sherlock can spend the years in between seasons hunting around these sites, referenced regularly in the show. If you’re curious, Molly Hooper and Connie Prince both also have sites.

4. Who is Doctor Who? – In the 2005 series’ episode “Rose”, Rose is trying to figure out who The Doctor is and comes across the website of Clive, a man also looking for the Doctor. Unfortunately, after the site’s author, Clive, was killed by an Auton, Mickey took over and following a fall out with Rose, the site hasn’t been the same. The link above will take you to the original site, but the actual reference is to and takes you to Mickey’s site, which is now, just games. Yes, we are huge Dr. Who fans.

We used to be satisfied when we would search for a business’ website and it would exist, but now we expect fictional businesses and blogs to also appear. We sure ask for a lot!

Speaking of websites, are you happy with yours? Take a peek at our post about 2013 Web Design Trends to see which ones might work for you.

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1 Comment

  1. Cross-Media Marketing: Real time storytelling
    July 15, 2013

    […] of cross-media marketing, check out our blog post “Fictional Web Design in Real Life”. Even though we’re not awesome thriller novel characters, we still post some cool stuff on […]


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