This tells me three things:
- Most folks are not reading even the first few paragraphs on the submission page.
- Most folks are not serious about receiving our certification.
- Most folks are quite possibly more interested in the potential traffic generated by our link to their site than they are in the honor of the certification.
I am a businessman and PeaceWorkDotCom is my primary business. I understand the need to market ones' website and I will never "tsk tsk" anyone who approaches award seeking as a marketing tool. I will, however, take a few moments to try and persuade you to at least offer the courtesy of displaying any awards you earn with both pride in your accomplishments and the respect due the awarder.
PeaceWorkDotCom began its Awards Program as a service to our customers. We wanted to offer our customers and visitors something that would entertain and delight and make their day a bit more relaxed and enjoyable. I can't remember which of my crew first suggested awards, but after several hour-long meetings, the PeaceWork Certified Sites Awards Program was born.
Why Give Awards?
Any serious Awards Program has a process that is time-consuming and often emotionally challenging. Those who host serious Awards Programs more often than not do so for the altruistic reason that they wish to give something back to the Internet Community for all that it has given them. I can only truly speak for PeaceWork's award programs and will do so now.
Do we do this for the traffic? Hardly. Our stats have been fairly consistent in showing us that the awards pages are by far the most-hit pages on our domain. These same statistics also show us that there is an average of one in five hundred unique visitors that click through to any of our other pages, most of those go straight to the free stuff area and then off our site. No, we don't do it for the traffic.
Do we do this for the revenue? Hardly. In a recent poll of our customers, only four percent were even aware we had an Awards program and as of the writing of this article we have only generated one $80.00 sale and one $65.00 sale as a result of our awards program. No, we don't do it for the money.
Then why do we do it? It makes us smile when we give an award. It makes our day a little brighter when we receive a heart-felt email thanking us for the award we gave. It gives us a little ego-boost when we see our award proudly displayed on a quality website.
Why Seek Awards?
I feel the true spirit of award seeking is, and should always be, a desire to receive outside opinion about one's site. It is far too easy to fall in love with the design we've worked so hard on, and if we simply sit on our laurels, smugly assuming that everyone else will love the design as well, we fail the Internet Community and we fail ourselves.
Awards are, without exception, the best way to seek objective opinion. If we ask our friends and family what they think, we are asking them to make us feel good and they will. They will applaud our efforts and often go out of their way to make us feel like the final word in web design. They do this because they love us and want us to feel good. I remember with horror the crayon scribbles my Mother put on the refrigerator in an attempt to build my self-esteem. This is hardly objective.
Any serious awards program is objective. The judge or judges will have no reason to tell you anything but the truth about your design. If someone writes to me and asks how they can improve their page, I will honestly (with gentle humor interspersed to soften the blow) give them the opinions of my judges and myself and hope to persuade them to improve their site. I expect the same when I make inquiries.
The Bottom Line of Reciprocal Links.
Evaluating sites takes time. If you put it in dollars and cents, each site that submits to PeaceWork Certified Sites costs approximately $45.00 to evaluate based on the current minimum wage. The very minimal way an award winner can "pay back" the awarder is to provide a link to the site. At PeaceWork, we insist on it and state such in our congratulatory email.
However, it's been firmly established that we don't do this for the money; we do it for the "warm fuzzies." Nothing an award winner could do could make us feel better than to display the award we've worked so hard to give them in a manner which tells the world they are proud of the award they received.
How Should an Award be Displayed?
At PeaceWork we have what we call the Trophy Case. It is currently 12 pages with nine awards to a page listed chronologically, oldest award first. We use tables to ensure the awards are displayed aesthetically; 3 columns and 3 rows. Each page is linked with forward and back arrows and indexed on the main Trophy Case page. Our Trophy Case is clearly linked from our main page with the heading "Honors." This idea was borrowed, but it is, in my opinion, a very good method of displaying awards.
Other methods I've seen include listing awards as text under headings (usually by FOCUS levels or month earned). When the text is clicked, the award graphic is displayed either in a pop-up or on a separate page. I remember one site that uses thumbnails which enlarge when clicked. The simpler method of merely placing the award graphics on a separate page is also acceptable if not preferred.
How Should an Award NOT be Displayed?
It is easy to get carried away, but it is almost a crime to simply plop the graphics on a page in random order. It is not a necessity to display the awards with tables or pop-ups, but merely "plopping" the awards on a blank page with no formatting is worse than not displaying them at all.
Another major "no-no" is resizing or otherwise editing the graphic without permission. I have only had to ask a few folks to please remove their graphic because of this, but one is too many. Most awarders would be happy to allow digital resizing (some will even do it for you), so long as the dimensions remain the same so that there is no distortion, but it is an absolute must that you ask first.
It's a Matter of Honor.
However you choose to display the awards you earn, post them with pride. If you're going to the effort of applying for awards, why not show off a little and do it in a manner that makes it easy for your visitors to find your awards page, or your trophy case, or your kudos page.
This will not only show the awarders that you respect and appreciate their efforts, it will show your visitors that your site was found pleasing by other web designers. This is much more valuable to your site than the traffic the awarder's link will generate.
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