Since its inception in 1996, The Webby Awards have been handed out to honor Web presences.
Their coveted glass statuette is displayed in the corporate offices of the top Web sites around the world.
Next year, the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences will expand its scope to the global marketplace by launching a second awards program, The Webby Business Awards.
The new Business Awards are going to pat the back of those companies using the Web most effectively as a business tool and setting the standards for the best in business on the Web.
Tiffany Shlain, founder and creative director of The Webby Awards, gave us the scoop on this new event.
Q: The Webby Awards are back for another year and youre adding a new Business Awards event in 2003.
Shlain: Its going to be a whole new award show.
Q: After last year’s Webby Awards, I heard some speculation that the sixth annual event might have been the last. Why do you think that was said?
Shlain: I didnt hear that. I can only imagine, but theres been so many death watches on the whole industry that a lot of people were saying the whole Web was dead!
Thats the biggest joke in the world, because as we all know more people are going online every day. It must have been the same skepticism of the whole Internet industry.
Im so glad were proving them wrong every year. If I had a nickel for every person who, when I said that this is going to be a huge medium said, Oh no, it’s not, Id be an Internet millionaire.
Q: Has the climate around the Web changed at all in the last year?
Shlain: Of course. Thats the most exciting and challenging part of running a business in the last seven years.
So much change has happened. When we started the Webby Awards, it was just this fringe medium with only a few people on it.
Then there was all this hype around the web and a lot of money being invested into companies, but there wasnt a huge audience yet.
Next, the huge audience came online – and the Internet crashed. Then the real crash of 9/11 happened and everyone was still online.
Everyone had an Internet account and they all used the Web for everything that had been promised during the boom.
So now you have the businesses that remain online doing something right, and they have a huge base of customers – over 500 million people are using the Web. Its a really interesting time right now.
Q: Are you getting a lot of nominations for the 2003 Webby Awards?
Shlain: Yes. Last year, we had an increase of twenty percent in our entries from 37 countries and 44 states.
This year we have a strong demand from businesses saying they want to know the best practices online, which is why we did the second award show.
The flagship Webbys are accepting entries right now. There are thirty categories ranging from activism to education, films, sports, and music.
The new Webby Business Awards really focuses on the best practices online. The nominees will be rated on their success in business goals.
Q: What are the specific categories for the Business Awards?
Shlain: We have automotive, creative services, financial services, food and beverage, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, information technology, marketing and communications, media and entertainment, retail, professional services, technical services, telecommunications, travel and tourism, and we have a Good Deeds Award, which will be given to a company doing non-profit work for a good cause.
Q: Do you have a date for the new business awards?
Shlain: Were going to announce that shortly. The flagship Webbys are going to be in San Francisco on May 15, 2003.
Q: Do you still see in the Webby Award being a small intimate affair?
Shlain: Yes. Instead of making one big, long awards show which I know everyone hates, we added a second award show.
As far as the scale of the individual events, I never want them to get too big because then you lose the Webby essence.
Q: Your Web site at www.WebbyAwards.com has both audio and video of last years event and they show that intimate essence of the Webbys.
Shlain: I always felt we did the anti-awards show by having the acceptance speeches be five words or less and really keeping a community environment rather than a Whos Who of the industry.
After last years turbulence in the industry, it was really important to have an intimate symposium. It was actually my favorite year so far.
Q: In regards to the Business Awards, what will the judging criteria be?
Shlain: Im glad you asked. For the flagship Webby Awards, theres five criteria: content, design, interactivity, functionality and overall experience.
With the new Business Awards, theyll still have those five criteria and were adding on to that real data.
We will ask companies their goals and business objectives that they have accomplished.
Q: Are you asking for financials?
Shlain: Some, but theyll all be confidential. We feel that the barometers for trust and integrity in companies have been in question, so we want to present a kind of stamp of approval people can look to in businesses.
We hope to set standards on how businesses can conduct themselves online.
Q: How can a company submit their Web site into your judging criteria?
Shlain: A business can go to WebbyAwards.com, click on the Business Awards link and download information you need to apply. Next, gather the information you need and then officially enter.
With marketing dollars being tight these days, if they do get nominated, it gives them the attention and validation that you can never pay for because the Webby Awards are an objective third party.
This is an opportunity for companies to boost their morale and achieve validation for the way they run their business.
Q: What are the deadlines for application?
Shlain: The final deadline for the flagship Webbys, now in its seventh year, is the end of December. The final deadline for the Business Awards is January 31.Well be announcing nominees in mid-March for the Webby awards.
The Webby Business Awards will be held in the fall of 2003.
Q: I use the list of Webby nominees as a source of inspiration. Have you heard interesting ways your lists are used?
Shlain: A lot of people come to the Webby Awards Web site to look at the list of nominees and winners to study them because they may be building or redesigning a site.
Lets say they’re doing a travel site and they look at the five best travel sites in the list of nominees and they’ll see what works. We see schools, students and businesses rely on our Web site.
A lot of people are using our home page as their home page as a filter to the best web sites in all kinds of categories.
Q: What else can we find at WebbyAwards.com?
Shlain: You can see all the lists of nominees and winners for the past six years, you can read the five word acceptance speeches, you can read thoughts on the industry and where its going from visionaries such as Stewart Brand.
We have a monthly newsletter called the 011 and we encourage everyone to sign up to be notified of our deadlines and other information.
Dana Greenlee is producer and co-host of the WebTalkGuys Radio Show. WebTalkGuys, a University Place-based talk show featuring technology news and interviews. It is broadcast on CNET Radio in San Francisco, on the Web at CNET Radio, WebTalkGuys Radio, Sonic Box and via the XM satellite network and the telephone via the Mobile Broadcast Network. Past show and interviews are also Webcast via the Internet at www.webtalkguys.com. PC World magazine names WebTalkGuys Best of Todays Web Hidden Gems in their August 2002 issue.