Oct 04, 2002
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By Maya Draisin, Executive Director of The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, which judges The Webby Awards
Each year The Webby Awards honors the best of the web. What separates the winners from the also-rans?
The winners stand out in six areas that The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences has established as the elements of great web development.
==> The 6 Key Ingredients of a Winning Site
>>1. Content: Good content is engaging, relevant and appropriate
for the audience. It has personality.
* Develop copy for the web. Text should be short, clear and
* Have a unique voice. Pick three to five adjectives that
you want your visitors to apply to you, and speak in that
* Know your audience and address them appropriately. If
you are targeting large corporate clients, you may want to
be more conservative. When seeking less traditional
projects, have more fun.
* Keep your content fresh by featuring your latest work.
This makes people feel as though the site is alive.
>>2. Structure and Navigation: Good structure and navigation
establish trust. They guide users and leave them in
control at all times.
* Plan your structure beforehand. Begin by creating a
flowchart so you know what must be accessible from each
* Group your navigational links and order them. What is it
you want visitors to see? What will they come looking for?
Those answers are your priorities. Make sure they are easy
* Be consistent. The goal for organizing a site is to create
a structure that makes sense intuitively. Using familiar
conventions like a navigation bar on the top or links on
the bottom is a good place to begin. If you get more
creative, make sure your structure is easily learned.
>>3. Visual Design. Good visual design is attractive, high-
quality and supports the content, structure and navigation
while adding an element of interest.
* While you may want to take your visitors' breath away, it is
important to support, not overshadow, your work.
* Clearly understand the goals of the site, and use design to
communicate and enhance those goals visually.
* Look professional and original. Choose images carefully,
and make sure everything looks as if it were made
specifically for your site.
* Keep your design clean and simple. There are a million
ways to be distracted on the web. Do not let your site be
one of them.
>>4. Interactivity: This is what really makes the medium
* Where appropriate, use interactivity to enhance the
* Let visitors decide.
* Do not provide everything at once.
* Use hyperlinks to connect to related work or more
information if your audience is interested.
* Use rollovers. They allow you to provide more information
and make your users feel as though they are being heard.
* Provide direct access. Include e-mail links or forms so
visitors can easily contact you with questions and
feedback, or to express interest.
>>5. Functionality. Stand-out sites must work.
* Test your functionality using multiple browsers and
platforms. While some features may work in Explorer, there
may be inconsistencies in Netscape. Likewise, it might work
on a PC, but does it work on a Mac?
* Make sure pages load quickly. Reduce page size and graphic
size so that downloading is not painfully slow. If need be,
offer a high-bandwidth and low-bandwidth solution.
* Check that all links are live. It takes only one typo for
a link to lead nowhere.
>>6. Overall Experience. This is the intangible "vibe" of a
site. Ultimately, you want to create a site that people
want to explore, enjoy, learn from, admire and pass on to