This paper describes the use of the free-form-deformation (FFD) parameterization method to create a novel blade shape for a highly loaded, transonic axial compressor. The novel geometry makes use of precompression (via an S-shaping of the blade around midspan) to weaken the shock and improve the aerodynamic performance. It is shown how free-form-deformation offers superior flexibility over traditionally used parameterization methods. The novel design (produced via an efficient optimization method) is presented and the resulting flow is analyzed in detail. The efficiency benefit is over 2%, surpassing other results in the literature for the same geometry. The precompression effect of the S-shape is analyzed and explained, and the entropy increase across the shock (along the midblade line) is shown to be reduced by almost 80%. Adjoint surface sensitivity analysis of the datum and optimized designs is presented, showing that the S-shape is located in the region predicted to be most significant for changes in efficiency. Finally, the off-design performance of the blade is analyzed across the rotor characteristics at various speeds.