So you want to run an awards program?

Dec 13


Richard Lowe

Richard Lowe

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I know you've seen those awards graphics all over the web. Mostweb sites win one, two or a dozen awards and display them proudly on their home ... the page loads so slow that no one visits anymo


I know you've seen those awards graphics all over the web. Most
web sites win one, So you want to run an awards program? Articles two or a dozen awards and display them proudly on their home page
until the page loads so slow that no one visits anymore. Finally, they
realize this and create a separate awards page, and eventually, if they are
anything like me, they have to create an entire awards section!

At some point many of these award winners realize that, hey, they could also
give an award themselves! Sometimes they want to give awards out of a desire
for more traffic (an awards program does generate more than a few hits), and
sometimes they want to reward other sites for their achievements. More
often, a webmaster cannot explain why he wants to give awards - he just
wants to.

One note of caution: if your goal is traffic and traffic only, then awards
are a fine way to get people to your site. However, by far most people who
sign up for awards simply go straight to your award application form without
looking at anything else. So while it is a way to get people to your site,
it really isn't a great way to get qualified visitors who are actually
interested in what you have to offer.

A good awards program is a lot of work. Spend the time and you will have
some great and perhaps unexpected rewards of your own. Please don't just
slap together a silly little awards program and expect to get very much from
it. And don't go out and get a script to automate the whole process. That's
not what awards are about.

All right, the first thing you should do (before you do anything else) is
sit down in a comfortable chair with your comfy slippers and a glass of your
favorite beverage. Make sure it is quiet and you have some time set aside.
Now, think about what you are trying to accomplish.

What is your purpose in creating an awards program? Are you:

- Trying to get traffic
- Trying to get other people to link back to you and raise your search
engine popularity
- Want to give something back to the internet community
- Like the idea of helping others improve their web sites
- Want to light up someone's life by giving them an award
- Like making cute little graphics

You answer(s) to this question will determine how you proceed. If you are
just trying to get traffic or increase your search engine ranking, then you
do not need to put in anywhere near as much time and care into your program.
Just create your graphic, a simple explanation page and make your award

If, on the other hand, you've got loftier goals, then you need to continue
your thought process. Now that you've decided on your purpose, think about
some other things.

1) Do you want a general award (best site) or a specific award (best Star
Trek The Next Generation fan site with pictures of James T. Kirk?)

2) Do you want to allow automatic submissions (which means many people will
who apply for your award will never even see your site?)

3) How specific do you want to get with the criteria? Some programs just say
"you'll get it if I like your site" and others have pages of complex
equations stating exactly what is expected to get an award.

4) This is very important: how much time do you want to spend on your awards
program? A couple of hours a week? More? Less?

5) Are there specific types of sites that you do not want to allow? For
example, many programs exclude adult sites and our own program excludes
psychiatric sites. It doesn't matter whether or not anyone agrees with your
exclusions - it is your awards program and you need to be comfortable with

6) Do you want to allow children under age 13? If so, you had better review
the legal requirements involved (specifically the Children's Online Privacy
Protection Act.)

In addition to all of this, it is also important to treat your awards
program seriously, at least as seriously as your web site. As you hand out
your award to more and more sites, you will find people judging you based
upon whom you have judged. Give out your award lightly just to get some
traffic, and you will find your own site judged lightly and visited