Whether it's a salute online or a big, star-studded event, it's always great to get international recognition for your work.
But what makes an award-winning website? How do website awards judges make the decision about which design are worthy?
We asked the organisers of the Lovie Awards to explain what they look for in entrants to this prestigious Europe-wide competition, and to provide some examples of winning websites that have put these principles into practice. Here's what they had to say...
01. Structure and navigation
Websites must have good structure and navigation in order to be consistent, intuitive and transparent. Your customers and readers should not have to search far and wide to find what they are looking for; instead, your site's navigation should get them where they want to go quickly and offer easy access to the site's content.
Case study: BBC Food (Gold Lovie 2011)
This website uses simplicity to its advantage and really proves that sometimes ‘less is more’. The straightforward structure ensures that users visiting the website are able to navigate through a wealth of content with ease - this is a great way to build a loyal visitor base, as users can trust that they can use the website with no fuss.
The likes of BBC Food is so populous with information that the cleaner and easier the layout is, the likelihood of visitors returning to use the site again is high, and the content is really able to sing.
For a website to be engaging, it needs to have good content that is relevant and appropriate for your audience. The content on your site must be clear and concise as it acts as a voice for your brand and expresses your business’s particular motto and point of view. It may be informative, useful, or funny but it always leaves you wanting more.
Case study: Noisey by VICE UK (Silver Lovie 2011)
Noisey is a music video driven platform, showcasing the most talented emerging musicians from all over the world. It features content from bands and music scenes from over 10 countries making it one of the most populated music sites on the web. The site is easy to use and offers an innovative user experience.
03. Visual experience
Visual design means more than just having a pretty homepage. It doesn't have to be cutting edge or trendy, but should be high quality, appropriate, and relevant for the audience and the message it is supporting. Your website’s design communicates a visual experience for your readers and allows them to become more engaged with your content.
Case study: Immersive Garden by Dilshan Arukatti (Gold Lovie 2011)
Immersive Design is a beautifully crafted website that shows true expertise when it comes to visual design. Users are truly able to experience and share the vision of the talented web designer, giving them a real desire to click through and continue exploring the site, seeking out content. Ideally, you want visitors to get lost in the pages of your website.
04. Interactive experience
The web is a many-to-many relationship, not a one-to-many relationship, like TV. Audiences like to interact with the site, with other members who are using it, and directly with the people making it. Supporting these type of interactions - whether it is message boards for the community to talk to one another or a robust and well-executed social media strategy - is what keeps sites engaging.
Example: BBC Psychoville Experience (Bronze Lovie 2011)
This website, created to support series I and II of the BBC's dark comedy Psychoville, is a true playground of interactive content.
As the series progressed, episode by episode, new assets to support the storyline were uploaded as ‘evidence’ to the site so viewers were able to continue their interaction with the programme, characters and storylines far beyond their television screens.
This resulted in a superior, inclusive, engaging and fun experience for fans of the show whilst simultaneously making the characters richer and giving the series additional longevity and integrity.
05. Overall experience
The bottom line is that you want your customers and users to have a positive overall experience that entices them to revisit your website. An effective website encompasses content, structure, and navigation, visual design, functionality, and interactivity, but it also includes the intangibles that make a user want to stay.
Users who have an overall good experience will engage with the site, come back regularly, and will likely stay involved with your brand or company’s work.
Example: The Outnet (Gold Lovie 2011)
This gold Lovie Award winner represents a truly intelligently designed, user experience focused website. With The Outnet as a company going from strength to strength, it certainly owes some of its year-on-year growth of 90%-plus to excellent digital design.
The website shows true brand identity, utilising a minimalist, streamlined and, most importantly, upscale feel that brings customers in and makes them stay.
The Lovie Awards is on a mission to recognise and reward the unique and resonant nature of the European internet community. So if you've created an amazing website, they'd love to hear from you! You've got until September 21 to enter at http://entries.lovieawards.eu/
For more web design inspiration, check out these great articles: