The Irish Web Awards – Judging Criteria

I may have mentioned the Irish Web Awards before. They’re in Dublin on October 11th. A Web awards based on the structure of the Blog Awards (free nominations, all nominations are judged etc.) and since this is an Awards not about the sponsors but those taking part I’d like to get the feedback of the public on how they think a website should be judged. I’ve asked a few folk privately about what the think the criteria should be for judging websites but I want as many opinions as possible. The feedback here will shape what the criteria for the judges of the Web Awards will be.

There’s all the usual ideas of marks for functionality, design, utility and so forth. I was wondering should there be any mandatory criteria for a website to get nominated such as HTML 4.01 or XHTML 1.0 compliant but some have pointed out that many sites that are full of browser hacks to get them to look nice will probably not validate but extra marks should perhaps be given if they look well in many browsers AND validate.

So should there be points out of 10 for the basics like design, utility, functionality and then extra marks for usability, conformance to WAI WCAG AA, HTML 4.01 compliance?

I do of course understand that there will never be full agreement on the criteria so will try and make it fair and balanced. But not the Fox news style of fair and balanced.

Photo from Tub Gurnard

18 Responses to “The Irish Web Awards – Judging Criteria”

  1. Andy says:

    Aiming for fair and balanced seems to be the best approach – validation is good, but like you say, if it wasn’t for the odd bit of clever coding here and there, we wouldn’t get anything done.

  2. John B says:

    I think validation should be taken with a pinch of salt as validation does not automatically equal a professionally build site. You could have an unfunctional flash based site that will validate 100%.

    I reckon you should have (at least) one judge with solid professional web design experience who can use his common sense to say that a site adheres to a competent level of professional standard.

    But obviously a laymans appreciation of a web site is just as important.

  3. I like this quote – “Usually, if you’re validating someone else’s code, it’s because you’re being an asshole.” ( IMHO any large, CMS driven site will be valid for about 5 minutes max. Then people start adding in all sorts of weird and wonderful things that have no affect on how a site looks but makes the validator very upset.

  4. Darragh says:

    Should template driven ( for example) sites be eligible for a design award?

    How about how they speak and explain things to their readers?

    A good use of social networking

    A good use of social responsibility, of social entrepreneurship and charity

    Communicating the right way to their members (if appropriate)

    I’ll have a think about more. Great idea though.

  5. Michael Walsh says:

    I hope people don’t start critiquing the code too much – some people get too precious about things like validation and using tables in design. I tend not to care about the page being blocked from loading until (hey, it’s those damn ads that are worse) as long as I enjoy reading the site and find it useful.
    Thumbs up though for any sites that can be accessed by screen readers though.

  6. roosta says:

    Im all for Web Standards, but i dunno about awarding points for the extreme accessiblity stuff…

  7. jazz biscuit says:

    It depends on what the awards are about. I would keep the technical stuff to one category, ie. ‘best technical implementation.’

    If the awards are supposed to show off the best web sites, then it should take the lay man as it’s starting point. Web sites aren’t only good because they’re well implemented, they’re good because the idea / content are good. There’s no point in saying isn’t good because it just gave me 101 errors in a html validator. Keep the technical stuff boxed off.

    Sorry if thats all very obvious. I just think it’s important to ask who the awards are for, for web professionals to give the nod to web sites that they think are shining examples of their field, or for the internet-using general public.

  8. A lot of people criticised Golden Spider nominees for being full of validation errors – is this the scenario you are trying to avoid?

  9. Dennis Deery says:

    I would tend to agree with Jazz Biscuit. Most web users don’t care about validation and such. If they can read the site and get good stuff from it, it’s a successful site. So for most categories I wouldn’t worry about validation. Might be good to have an award for best validating technical entry or something, but I don’t think that should be a broad focus of the awards.

    Also, I think it’d be great to have a category for “most accessible” site – that’s an area that could really use highlighting.

  10. le craic says:

    I’d be in the Jazz Biscuit camp of thinking on this. Would also add that Steve Krug’s book Don’t make me think is where it’s at.

  11. Mike Kelly says:

    Plugins can have cross browser issues and may also then not be compatible with software updates.
    Themes (especially widgets) can have numerous bugs and cross browser issues and so I feel if a blogger can work around theses issues sourcing alternative plugins and themes and workaround codes codes etc and produce a good site it should be noted perhaps.
    Agree with Dennis re validation. The end user wants a quality site that is user friendly and explained in laymans terms but have a category with validation in mind.

    On another note my public_html folder was hacked recently with 3 .tar files((2GB each) so I would strongly recommend upgrading to WP 2.5

  12. John B says:

    It’s not about pretty looking code for the geeks to drool over. You wouldn’t give an award to a builder for an amazing looking house if a surveyor told you it was going to fall down in three years.

  13. For me it is important that business websites have a single focus, or at least a very limited number of objectives.
    Then a measure of good and bad is the conversion rates achieved.

    Quite how you build that in is beyond me – altho I guess you could ask.
    1 What is your primary site objective?
    2 How successful is your site in achieving that objective?
    3 How do you measure it?

    All the rest is flim flam 🙂


  14. Michele says:

    I think the reason so many people focussed on the validation of the Golden Spiders was because a number of past winners did not work in Firefox and other non-IE browsers.

  15. […] a pending announcement of the critera for the Web Awards (you can still contribute here) and the 20 or so categories for the Awards will be announced in two […]

  16. elly parker says:

    Ease of navigation for a new user
    Are contact details easily available?
    If the site is big enough, is site map easily findable?
    Accessibility should definitely be a category on it’s own – I know of several sites that GM gave up reading as the text was too small and Firefox wasn’t able to make it bigger.

  17. Krishna De says:

    Could there be a special award for the most effective integration of Web 2.0 strategies around building community?

    Will you also be looking at key elements of content building on Elly’s comments about ease of navigation? There would be some very specific things I’d look for in a business site.

  18. For me the criteria should be a simple one of “does it do what it says on the tin?” Have one award for best design, but overall in all other categories it should be less about design and more about effectiveness.