I recently completed my 6th year of judging for the eHealth Leadership Awards. It’s amazing how far sites have come in half a dozen years. Sites are more interactive, more engaging, and creating a better overall experience.
Although better, there is still a spectrum amongst the sites that I reviewed. What is pushing things to the front?
- Aesthetics – I wish site reviews could overlook prettiness. Unfortunately, there’s just no way to get past how a site looks. Not completely. Poor design or designs muddled by committees hurt the impressions that I come away with as a judge. I admit it. Good design is worth the investment.
- Organization – Keep it clear, simple, and easy to understand. Spend time with your end audience figuring out how best to organize the information to make it easy to find. Finding site features is the biggest challenge that I have as a judge. Having something on your site only helps your ranking if the judges can find it. In other words: don’t bury the cool stuff.
- Search – This is the other way that I am able to find things that I’m looking for. Some sites have really thought through search and it’s tremendously helpful. Other sites have slapped a miscellaneous search appliance on their site and it shows.
- The Checklist – Many of the categories are broad. Some of the sites that were submitted are not. This is one of the faults of the judging process – there is no connection to what these sites are trying to accomplish, only ratings on “the checklist”.
How I wish this worked…
I hold two beliefs that are at odds with all of these awards (and this is truly a problem with every award program that I’ve seen for the Web):
- First, online strategy is not cookie cutter. There is no one set of checkboxes that is the correct set for every organization or for every site. Strategy is where you start. Who are you reaching out to? Why are you doing it? What are your goals? What you actually roll out should flow from that strategy.
- Results should rule. Awards programs are based on heuristic analysis – give them to knowledgeable people and have them evaluate them. If a site delivers successfully on goals, who cares what I think? If I love a site but no one goes there because there’s no supporting marketing, then it’s still a failure. If I think some site feature is silly but it’s driving service line volume, then it’s a success.
So is there another way to run awards? Has anyone seen a model that looks at strategy and results?