News

How Good is your website?

The Australian Web Awards was held on Saturday night to celebrate the success of the best of the best: the most creative, the most innovative, the best designed and most functional web sites created and launched in the 2009/2010 financial year from all round Australia.

Gary Barber, the awards ‘judge and jury’ and owner of radharc said “This year marked an increased level of web standards and best practice compliance for the award entrants.

It was noted by several of the specialist web accessibility judges that the level of consideration for designing web sites for the wider audience of people with disabilities is now starting to be considered.

With the high calibre of web sites from the Eastern seaboard entering the competition this year there has been a remarkable increase in standards of the overall ease of use of the web sites entered.”

This has to be one of the best marketing strategies around for any business, that the website you paid for and nurtured so dearly this year was nominated and selected as a finalist or even a winner and then proliferated across the web! Was your business in this list?

With a 300% increase in the number of nominations from the East Coast in only its second year of being national, the social media word is spreading fast about the standards and achievements of some very cool websites around the country.

This year the Most Outstanding Award was won by; Gee Multimedia in Melbourne for The Coffee Company, www.coffeecompany.com.au

Contribution to the Industry Awardwas somewhat of a surprise to the winner, Russ Weakley, Melbourne, for his positive participation in various groups and the educational aspects he promotes.

Arts & Events

Blog

Education

Enterprise

For the People

Government

Innovation

Media

Not For Profit

Online Retail

Virtual

Next Stop: Perth

Well another event went well. All the Finalists and winners at the Brisbane event were fed & watered at the Urban Brisbane Hotel. The view was also glorious as the sun set over the event. Now it is just over 7 days to go until the Gala Dinner in Perth on  6th November, 2010. Check out the winners from the Brisbane event. I hope that all had a good night. 

The finalists for the WA and West Coast regions are now online. Take some time to look at the list of excellent sites from Western Australia that have made it to their regional finals. WA and West Coast regional winners are announced on 6th November, 2010 during the first half of our Gala event.

We expect to see some eastern states regional winners and National finalists in Perth as well. A comprehensive list is now available on the Finalist & Winners page. All the National Winners will be revealed in the second half of our Gala event.

If you have not bought your ticket, do be quick as it is looking to be a sellout with limited seats left. Check out the Perth Event for registration details.

Brisbane Web Awards Finalists

Judging is hard, even harder with the judges for the Australian Web Awards as they are very picky, they spend countless hours validating, nitpicking and collating the results.  In some way we are glad the judging is over.

 So it's with some excitement that we can announce  that our Brisbane Australian Web Awards event only a  short 2 weeks away.

So now we can now reveal to you who the finalists are for the following categories:

  • Enterprise - QLD, VIC, SA  Region
  • For the People - QLD, VIC, SA  Region
  • Not for Profit - QLD, VIC, SA  Region
  • Arts and Events - East Coast Region
  • Education - East Coast Region
  • Online Retail - East Coast Region

These finalists have already achieved a great deal in just getting to this stage of the judging process.  Only the sites with a reasonable level of validation, and that satisfied our hard nosed judges got to this stage.  

The finalists are  nominated for their respective regional category award, which will be announced in Brisbane.

Now if you want to find who wins and get a gander at the good oil, before the rest of world, you are going to have to be at the presentations aren't you.  

Sydney Web Award Finalists

After hundreds of hours validating, judging and collating of the results and with our Sydney Australian Web Awards event only a week away we can now reveal to you who the finalists are for the following categories:

  • Enterprise - NSW, ACT, NT, Tas Region
  • For the People - NSW, ACT, NT, Tas Region
  • Not for Profit - NSW, ACT, NT, Tas Region
  • Virtual Business - East Coast Region
  • Innovation - East Coast Region
  • Government - East Coast Region

These finalists have achieved a great deal in just getting to this stage of the judging process.  Only the sites with a reasonable level of validation, and that satisfied our hard nosed judges got to this stage.  

A sample of some of the comments from our judges about these finalists:

"Clean, intuitive, inspires confidence."
"Maximizing on the concept of convergence and conversion is great."

The finalists are  nominated for their respective regional category award, which will be announced in Sydney.

Now if you want to find who wins and get the low down before the rest of world, you are going to have to be at the presentations aren't you.

The other regional finalists will also be announced shortly.

Judging concludes, the Presentations Begin

Finally the judging is all over for the Australian Web Awards.  The independent judges made up local and international web industry practitioners have come to a consensus as to the best web sites for each category and region across Australia.

Now we know you want to know who has won what, or the very least who the finalists are? 

Well we’re not going to tell you who the winners are just yet…

But we are going to let you know who the finalists are for each region over the ensuing weeks.

We’re leaving the winners to three amazing events we are running around the country over the next 6 weeks.

Sydney - Monday 11th October, 6:30pm

This event is part of the Australian Web Week, and is a free event with the usual nibbles, a cash bar, and the like available. 

We will be announcing the regional category winners for NSW, ACT, NT and Tas.  So come join us to revel in the achievements of your region or just a social catchup at the start of a great web week.

Please pop over and register if you are coming, as we need to know numbers.

Brisbane - Tuesday 26 October, 6:30pm

In Brisbane we are stepping it up again, this time we are bring in two speakers Oliver Weidlich (Mobile Experience) and Chris Mills (Opera) to speak on “The Pleasure and Pain of Taking Hold.....of your Mobile”.  We’ll also be presenting the region category winners for QLD, VIC and SA.

This is an idea opportunity to see two outstanding speakers and celebrate the best of best for your region.   This is a ticketed event to cover costs, a mere $20, so hop to it and register.

Perth - Saturday 6th November, 7pm

Finally the national and WA regional awards will be presented in a spectacular gala awards dinner in Perh, with entertainment and 3 course dinner making this a night to be remembered.   

When was the last time you got to geek out and go all-formal and have a great time.   Well this is it!    This is a ticketed event well worth attending, so go on reserve your table today.

Entries Closed, so the Judging Begins

Entries for the 2010 Australian Web Awards closed at 23:59 WST last night.

Chairperson Helen Burgess and Judging co-ordinator Gary Barber,  now has the unenviable task of sorting through the entries and checking them against the entry criteria, then beginning the mammoth validation task - all this before the judging process can begin.

Award Annoucements

The results of the regional finalists for NSW, ACT, NT and Tas will be annoucned at a event in Sydney at Web Week in October 2010. Where as the regional finalists for QLD, VIC and SA will be annouced in Brisbane in mid October 2010.  The finalists for WA and the overall national category winners will be announced in Perth at gala event on 6th Novemebr 2010.

A big thank you to everyone who entered - this is going to be a very interesting competition as there are entries from all the states and territories in Australia across the categories!

10 Common Errors from Last Year

The Australian Web Awards are closing fast, with only a few days to go.

Getting your entry ready for the Australian Web Awards can be a little frantic. You may even think it's just too hard. Well in general your HTML code is usually semantic and validates. It's the CSS that more often that not has those 50 plus tricky errors and warnings. Mind you if you have a good look at these errors closely, most can be easily fixed and are just issues that have sneaked into your code.

Last year we took note of some of the more common careless errors that caused sites to be eliminated from the competition, here is a summary:

1. Color me Hash

This was the number one issue, when you are defining a colour as a hexadecimal notation, ensure you have the # (hash) symbol before the numbers.  For example, color: 232323; is incorrect, it should be color: #232323;.

2. Size Properties

Lots of sites defined size attributes, in the CSS, as being width: 20; when in fact a unit of measure is required, so it should be width: 20px; or width: 5em; or  width: 25% or width: auto;.  The choice is yours just make sure you use one of em, ex, px, mm, cm, in, pt, pc or % .

3. Identification is Important

This was another very common issue, identifiers in the HTML like for example id = "somesuchthing" need to be unique, otherwise they just can't identify specifically an element on a page. So remember no duplicate IDs. .

4. Negatives as length values are a No, No

This issue occurred so many times, it wasn't funny. Negative lengths are just not on.  Setting the width: -1;  that's right no unit of measure just -1.  When a negative is being used as a value for length it's illegal. So no negative widths and heights, but zero is fine.   Remember we are not talking about positioning.

5. Doc Types

You may think it funny, but a few sites failed because they had no doc type or the doc type given didn't match the code that was within the page.  Simple mistake in the HTML, but it can be very costly.

6. End of the Line

This warning was very common, too common in fact. You need to close a property in CSS with a semi-colon.  The number of times it was missed was amazing.

7. Using the URL

This was another sad error that makes you wince, there were cases where the wrong URI syntax is used. For example code was presented as background-image: url(href="http://domainname.com/image/.big.gif");  when it really ideally should be background-image: url(../image/.big.gif);.

8. It's not Equals

The value of a property is not defined by an equals sign, but a colon. For example padding-top=10px; is wrong.  While padding-top: 10px; is correct.

9. Cells and Padding

Again another simple mistake, there are no properties for tables or cells called cell-padding and cell-spacing in CSS.

10. Delimiters

Can you see the pattern here. You will with this one. Using shorthand notation is fine, just get it right. There was a lot of misuse of delimiters such as padding: 1em, 2em, 2.5em, 0; yes it is wrong, there is no comma as a delimiter it should be padding: 1em 2em 2.5em 0;  On the other hand take font-family: Helvetica; Arial; sans-serif; it's completely wrong as is font-family: Helvetica Arial sans-serif; it should be font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; Just ensure you use the right delimiters.

There you have it a simple list of common errors from last year, we don't want to see them this year, understand. smile

Sonja Bernhardt on what she’s expecting to see

Sonja BernhardtThis time Gary Barber sits down with judge  Sonja Bernhardt, a veteran of the IT industry with almost an addiction for judging. They chat about judging the Australian Web Awards, innovation and what is that magic award winning factor.

Web Awards: You have had a good deal of experience in the judging arena.  What do you think the winning factor is?

Sonja: A site that draws out a reaction from me - a site that makes me want to look further into it, draws me to play, click, search.  

A few years ago one entrant that instantly drew a reaction from me (and took me by surprise) was food related and I wanted to physically 'lick' the site as the colours and words used were very appealing - may sound weird I know BUT that may help explain the reaction.  Another classic example for me is if I find I start wanting to buy things from the site that is a strong indicator of magic at work!

So in summary a site that goes beyond stating fact and info to one that visually and emotionally draws me in.

 

Web Awards: There have been a lot of new technology released in the last year.  This will bring with it new innovations.  Are you expecting to see a flow on effect with this years entrants?

Sonja: I'm still waiting for the day when a hologram appears from the site and steps me through what I need,  but putting that aside... 

I guess with the advent of iPad that rules out a lot of flash animated sites.  

In the end regardless of the technology used be it animated 3D talking assistance, social media tools, enhanced graphics etc.  as long as the site engages the user and relates a clear consistent message it achieves it's purpose:-)

 

Web Awards: User experience is a very big deal these days, what elements of a web site can spoilt this experience for you?

Sonja: If it takes me longer than a few second to workout how to navigate that really turns me off.  If I do not grasp almost instantly what the site is about I loose rapid interest.  In todays world we are hit with a lot of visual and audio imagery - so a site that neatly and clearly sorts through that delivering a message with clarity is tops in my books (oops or should I say in my iPad):-)

Questions on Validation, Categories and Judging

Every year there are a series of common questions that we get during the nomination process, here are a selection from this year so far:

Validation?

Q: Hey we have the cool site, but the boss insists we use this lame third party plugin that makes causes our otherwise perfect code to not validate.

Now if it is just a single third party plugin, like for instance - an ecommerce gateway, then you should be fine; as long as you don’t enter into the ecommerce category. 

However you have to tell us, up front so we can look a the issue.  I would even put comments in the code around the invalid code, so we know that “bad” segment is not your doing. 

Then again if your entire CMS code is full of validation errors and you are using tables for layout with inline javascript, I wouldn’t bother entering. Sorry but the Australian Web Awards is about promoting best practice.  The reality is you may need to go have a look at the right way to code your sites.

 

Q: I have a major concern over these awards, sites are winning that don't validate when I check them after they are announced.  Clearly something is fishy here!

Let me explain what we believed has been happening with this issue.  

The validation process begins soone after nominations close in July.  Now remember not every page on every site is validated. Yes, we use automated tools to do the validation and a standardised method  to select the random pages that are validated.  However you have to understand we have 100's of sites to validate, validating all the page is just not possible.  

If there are ZERO ERRORS and less than 3 WARNINGS in total on the pages tested for both HTML and CSS combined - then the site has passed validation. 

Exceptions are made for third party code blocks such as Google Ads, javascript widgets and client inserted code. We can very clearly see the bad client code verses the professional front end development code. 

Also remember we don't validate the Blogging category, and we expect things to break in the innovation category as well.

By the end of July all the validation is done.  Now no one looks at the validation again during the judging process.  

The award winners are announced in November, this is good number of  months later.  These sites will not have remained static during that time, they will have changed, they will have new content, maybe even the validation will have slipped a little.  

But the fact is at the time of judging they were, within a few warnings in the worse case, the best of the best. 

 

Q: I have a blog and it doesn't validate at all, its full of third party plugins that I don’t understand. Can I still enter.  I have heard if it fails validation it is out of the running.

Not so, blogs and sites that are based on content only are not validated and are judged on content only.   So go ahead and enter.

 

Q: All our sites validate, and we think they are awesome, leading edge in fact. So much so, that we are using elements of CSS3, HTML5 and proposed vendor specific CSS3 rules.   Does this mean our sites will not validate?

Fantastic.   It’s great to see you are pushing things. 

All we ask is that you tell us in your submission.  

We know that the validators for CSS3 and HTML5 are still in early alpha so we don’t expect you to have used them.

However please ensure the code for the HTML5 or CSS3 you use is valid and correct in syntax.   We will check, we are anal like that.

Now if you have a really amazing site, I would be entering it into the “Innovation” category at the very least.

 

Q: We have a site that is based entirely in Flash/Silverlight can we enter too.

Sure, no problem.

Please ensure it validates, and that it’s accessible and very usable as these have been the weak spots of RIA sites in the past.

You will note on the judging panel there are good number of usability and accessibility experts.

Which State?

Q: We have the client that is based in Brisbane, but we are in Melbourne.  So which state do we put the entry into?

This is simple; the state you select is the state of registered business office of your business.  

For example if you have three offices and the head office is in Sydney then the state will be NSW.  

The location of the client doesn’t matter; it is the location of the design team or the respective business that is the key factor.

If you are an international firm, then it's the Australian head office.

Giving Judges Access

Q: We have this new site, we think is kick-arse good!  However it’s still currently under wraps by the client behind their firewall.  Can we still submit it?

The site needs to be launched by the 30 June 2010.    If by the 1 July it is still behind the firewall and has not been signed off by the client, then sadly it’s not eligible for this year’s Australian Web Awards. 

However it will be eligible for next years.

If the site has aspects that are locked away from the public view, and these are critical to your submission.  In order to evaluate the site the judges are going to need to have access to these areas.   The best idea is to supply passwords and logins with you submission.

Which Category?

Q: We have a great mobile phone application we want to submit.  Can we, I assume it goes in the mobile category.

Yes, correct, it would go in the mobile category.  

However consider the judges, they have to access your application to review it.   If your application is on the open web and non-platform specific, then this will not be an issue.

But if it is platform specific then you need to supply a method in which the judges can access your app say via an emulator or the like. You cannot assume the judges will personally have the specific platform for you app.

If you can’t provide a means in which the judges can easily evaluate your site or application, then we will not be able to judge it. Still talk to us, we are open to suggestions, we don't like to exclude anyone.

 

Q: We have a really cool site, however we purchased the design exclusively and applied it to a standard CMS install or a CMS hosted solution.  Which category do we put it in?

In reality neither the code nor the design are yours or the product of a subcontractor you have managed.   Effectively you have an off the shelf product.

In this case the only element that really is yours is the content.   Hence this is the element on which we can judge the site, putting the design, functionality aside.  

The best category for this type of site is the “Blogging” category, were it will be judged on content, and community engagement.

Judge Duncan Riley’s take on the Australian Web Awards

Duncan RileyContinuing with the interviews. This time Gary Barber, the Judging Coordinator chats with the Australian Web Awards Judge - Duncan Riley, about his previous experiences judging and what he believes makes an award winning site.

Web Awards: The Australian Web Awards attracts web sites from all over the country, sites designed and developed by large design agencies, government  departments to single person shops.

You have judged a number of these web awards, what do you think is the magical winning factor?

Duncan: Primarily the ability to stand out and be different.

Imitation is easy, but innovation isn't. That can be innovation in design, content, or product idea. A winning web site or service stands out from the crowd.

 

Web Awards:  This year brings a good deal of new web technology. What innovative types of sites are you expecting to see in this years range of entrants. Do you think the newer web technologies with feature?

Duncan: Social has come to the fore in the last couple of years, and finally Australian sites are catching up. I'd expect to see strong integration of social media features in general entries, and in some categories sites that seek to extend or offer new twists on what we see coming out of the United States.

 

Web Awards: Finally what elements of a web site can really turn you off the site and  spoil the overall experience for you.

Duncan: Although it's not everything, visuals and design can and will cause a negative reaction, even when the idea behind the site is a good one. That doesn't necessarily mean bad visual design either; sometimes a design can looking visually stunning but doesn't work from a consumer/ end user perspective. There's a line there that needs to be balanced.

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