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Awards Program Debate
One of the most debated subject among webmasters is the whole concept of web site awards. I'm sure you've seen the little graphics on many different sites, announcing it is the "best", "coolest" or "most wonderful" or whatever. Sometimes you'll see terms like "bronze", "gold" and "silver" to describe the award.
What's the debate about? To put it briefly, are web site awards worth the "paper they are printed on?"
"What's the point?", some webmasters will say with a smirk (the smirk always seems to be there, oddly enough). "Where's the money in awards? These are just graphics that anyone can make up, they are given out by the boatload and they do not prove anything."
Au contraire. I beg to differ. Winning an award can be one of the most fulfilling achievements that a webmaster can experience. Yeah, some of the awards are given away by autoresponder (and these, I agree, are worthless), but others are very, very difficult to earn.
You see, the point is that in a true awards program you are getting a peer (another webmaster) to review your site against a set of criteria. You have to work to win some of the better ones, and the very best require an incredible effort.
But who wants a peer review anyway? I mean, isn't the real payoff in dollars or number of visitors or hits or whatever? Why would anyone care about the opinion of another webmaster?
That's easy. You see, web sites can always be made better. It does not matter how good of a job you've done, if you stand back and look at your accomplishment objectively, you will find something to improve. What awards programs do is speed up this process.
You begin by reading the criteria of the award. One common requirement is fast load time. You check your site and find the main page loads in 5 minutes ... and thus you will not win the award. Okay, so you fix that and check the next item. Hmm. Clean navigation ... fixed that, what's next? Readable text perhaps, or good content, or simply a way to turn off the background music. You see what's happening. You want that award so you MUST improve your site to achieve it. You have to spend a little more time checking it out, so that when your site is examined you will earn the prize.
What does that buy you? A better web site will translate into more visitors who come back more often, and if you are selling something, they may buy it.
So before you turn up your nose at that pretty awards graphic, read the criteria. See what the webmaster had to do before he earned that picture. If the criteria says "just take it and display it" ... the award is useless. On the other hand, if it states some stringent rules, then perhaps you should be impressed ... and maybe see if you own site measures up.
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