(Image from TomDotCom)
I met him at an Adfest after-party and asked him what I could do to make my digital award entries easier to judge at awards shows.
He gave me a list of things to aim for, and here’s what I managed to recall from our quick conversation:
1. Make websites that work fast
Tom told me that judges have to look through hundreds of entries a day, so make sure your website not only loads fast, but also gets straight to the content.
I’d recommend cutting out unnecessary interactions like splash pages and Flash loading sequences. I’d avoid asking judges to sign up or log in to my website and make sure that they sure as hell don’t have to download any plugins or software updates.
2. Optimize for the latest version of IE
I cringed when I heard Tom say this, because I usually get my developers to run cross-browser tests on our websites. I believe in best practices and I try to make sure that our sites are able to work on any machine, at any connection speed.
But then, optimizing your website for an award makes perfect sense if you think about it; the jury will probably use the most common Web browser available to man and that is Internet Explorer.
The judges won’t bother testing your site with other types of browsers unless they find that your site isn’t working with IE, in the first place.
3. Host it on your own server
Yeah, that makes perfect sense, too.
Rather than piggy-back off someone else’s bandwidth, it would be a great idea to invest in a dedicated server, especially if the work that you enter for awards has been taken offline (which is almost always the case when it comes to campaign microsites).
Alternatively, you could buy a premium hosting plan from mediatemple or if you’re from Malaysia, I recommend using Exabytes. They’re quite reliable and their customer support is great (and no, they didn’t pay me to say that).
4. Don’t go overboard with video
Resist the urge to upload all of your videos in HD.
A high-res video is nice to look at, but it’ll fuck the judges up because they need to wait for it to load. Once it’s loaded, they have to sit and watch it. And if it sucks, your website will probably end up losing some Brownie Points, too.
Rather, build videos into the user experience instead of just plonking a huge clips on a landing page and hoping people will watch everything that you ask them to.
5. It’s all about the experience
Lastly, Tom said that judges look for fun and engaging user experiences.
I think at Adfest the judges were looking out for websites that could tell an interesting story or invite people to tell one, themselves. But hey, this is advertising. The judges must’ve also been looking for New, Cool and Wow, right?
By the way, thanks, Tom. You rock.