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Do Award Programs Unknowingly Stifle Creativity?
By Cat Turner -- September 10, 2003

As award program owners, we spend hours, days, and even years, writing and perfecting our criteria. We think about what we want to see in a website as well as what we don’t want to see. We all have our own personal thoughts, interpretations and viewpoints.

Yet, have you ever wondered if your criterion stifles the creativity of the web designer who may be applying for your award?


Cat Turner


Throughout my experience as a web award seeker, I found many times (more often than not) I needed to “change” my site in order to apply for an award. This can be good and did in fact teach me new levels of web design, thus improving my site. However, I also went through a period where I nearly gave up on my website altogether. You see I had awakened one day to find that my own personality was gone from my site without a trace. It didn’t happened overnight, but the fact is it did happen.

We all as award givers say we wish to see things that awe us, new approaches to creativity, innovations… yet our own criteria at times limit those very things.

Now I know, many of you will say that if you don’t want to change your site, don’t apply for this or that award, no one is forcing you. Still, there were redundancies in many of the award programs that left me with little choice for applications unless I changed. It was either, change the site or don’t win awards.

Since becoming a member of the award giving community, I have often wondered if I myself am stifling the creativity of web designers.

  1. Do the winners in my list look like cookie cutter cut outs of one another?
  2. Where do we allow for innovation?
  3. Where do we make room for the adventurous spirits who choose new forms of layout and design?
  4. When do the “dotted i’s and crossed t’s” push away and extinguish someone’s creative personality?
  5. By stating, “you must” and “you must not” do we limit websites to fit only into our little box?
  6. Or do we strive to let people “think outside that box” and express themselves in original ways?

Many of us limit things such as the number of graphics per page, use of java, use of frames as well as flash. Although we have good intentions, such as considerations for page load times and accommodating older browsers… How many restrictions can we honestly place on someone before they begin to lose their personality and creativity? It’s something we each need to consider.

Although we need to have rules in order for people to earn our awards, we also need to leave the door open for those who strive to go beyond what may be the current standard. We need to look closely at our mission and purpose statements and then see if our criteria conflict with our basic reasons for awarding sites… innovation, style and creativity in their presentation of content.

Perhaps it's time that we as award givers think outside the box and stretch the bounds of imagination. Then we will truly be striving for excellence.

Copyright © 2003
All Rights Reserved
Cat Turner

About the Author
Cat is the owner of Gossamer Wings Awards and the retired Catshark Awards, Co-Founder of Treasures of the Web and board member of AEC Global.

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