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The Awards
2015 Awards

FAQ


2014 Winners

OPEN DIVISION
  • Cisco
  • EMC
  • Google Adwords
  • IBM
  • McAfee
  • Microsoft Surface
         Support
  • PTC
  • Red Hat


  • SMALL COMPANY DIVISION
  • SirsiDynix
  • Tourplan



  • The Judges

        ASPonline.com  >  Web Support Awards FAQ


    FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS...

    THE BIG PICTURE

    How does the judging process work?
    Each entry is reviewed by a panel of five independent judges, using a scoring system that measures 25 different performance criteria. The sites with the highest scores in their category (Open Division, seven to eight awards; Small Company Division, two to three awards) become the "Year's Ten Best Web Support Sites."

    How do you define the categories?
    As its name implies, the Open Division is open to anyone who wishes to enter. The Small Company Division is for companies whose annual revenues are below $500 million.

    We're a tiny division of a big company. What's our category?
    "Small" companies have to be independently owned. A division of a big company must enter in the Open category. (How do we know if your rich parent isn't slipping you a few extra bucks on the side?)

    How many companies enter the competition?
    We typically get 40-60 entries. That's not a huge number, but putting together entry essays and other materials is a fairly serious undertaking. So the competition tends to be pretty tough. (We publish a list of participating companies and their support URLs in each year's "Ten Best Support Sites" book, if you're interested in scoping out the competition.)


    ELIGIBILITY

    Do we have to be ASP members to participate?
    No.

    What about overseas entries?
    We've had winners from outside the U.S. in the past (including Canada, the U.K., Israel, Austria and Finland), and we'd love to see more. Naturally, our judges may have a hard time evaluating your site if the text is in an obscure dialect of Klingon. But if even some of your site is in English, we can probably give it a fair review.


    ENTRY PROCESS

    When is the deadline?
    In 2015, the deadline will be Friday, March 6. We can also accept late entries (with a late fee) during the following week. And, if we still have judges available, we may be able to process entries as much as two weeks after the deadline. But if you're going to be that late, check with us first. (By the way—the deadline is based on when WE receive the entry.)

    Why do we have to write an entry essay?
    The essay helps the judges understand why you've made specific design and implementation decisions about your site. This is a chance for you to explain your customers, the practical problems you faced, and your company priorities. Note that the information you provide in your essay represents 20% of the total points the judges can award for your site.

    What's the purpose of the "Challenges" part of the essay?
    This section explains how well you used your resources—people, money, technology—and your problem-solving insights. Many companies lose points on this section, by the way, by submitting public relations happy talk ("we strive to make our customers even more delirious with joy"). If you overhauled the site to fix lousy navigation or a defective search engine, say so.

    What's the purpose of the "Three Key Features" part of the essay?
    This section helps the judges identify features or areas of the site that they should look at most closely. It's a good idea to use this section to explain why you feel these features are exceptional, and perhaps to supply metrics and other background information for context.

    How long can the essay be?
    Our judges used to complain that essays were sometimes too long to read. So we're now imposing a strict limit of twelve pages (including a cover page) for the entire essay. Screen shots and charts should be placed with the text, and count as part of the twelve-page total. If you can't describe your biggest challenge and three key features in this space, you're probably trying to cram too much into what should be a simple document.

    Can we write about something other than challenges and key features?
    No. These components act as a very open-ended template. The judges refer to the essay to determine the scores they assign for the final five issues in the scoring system, so we need some standardization.

    How do we submit an entry?
    The entry process changed recently. Entry essays must be submitted as a single electronic file (.pdf format only). The entry form page should be a separate file, also in PDF format. You have several options for transmitting the entry essay file to us, which are spelled out in the entry form section entitled "Electronic File Submission".

    Do we have to send a PDF?
    Yes. This is by far the most stable, predictable file format for electronic documents. Our experience with other formats (including Word) is that there are too many glitches with fonts, corrupted images, and version incompatibilities. If you can't generate a clean PDF from your source document, our judges probably won't have any better luck.

    What if we send you a hard copy entry?
    We will lay it gently in the recycling bin and ask you to resubmit your entry as requested. We are not mailing hard copies to judges.

    Our site is password-protected. What do we do?
    We'll ask you to provide a generic password that we can pass on to the judges for the duration of the competition. (A generic password is easiest for us to administer, because judges are assigned randomly.) We also strongly encourage you to TEST the password you submit with your entry—surprisingly often, we're given passwords that don't work, and this makes our judges cranky.

    How do we pay the entry fee?
    You can either enclose a check (company or personal) or PDF the credit card information (card number, expiration, name of card holder). Don't even think of asking us to invoice your company.


    JUDGING & SCORING

    How do we find out about the scoring system?
    Just download a copy of the Scoring Criteria document we give all of our judges. Our scoring system is completely open and transparent—you can see exactly what we look at and how many possible points we assign. (To the best of our knowledge, no other Web competition offers this much disclosure, by the way.)

    Some of the scoring criteria don't apply to our site. Will we be at a disadvantage?
    No. In fact, we've never seen a site that excelled in all 25 of our performance metrics, or that even offered all of the features we measure. Winning sites in the Open Division typically have scores in the 85-95 point range, so it's possible to rank as a high-performing site without implementing every possible feature.

    Bear in mind also that our scoring system measures the quality of feature implementation, not just the checklist presence of a feature. A site that does an excellent job of implementing a shorter list of features will generally out-perform a site that does a poor job of implementing many features.

    How can a small company with limited resources compete against the big guys?
    That's why we have a Small Company division. The entries in this division compete only against each other. And to further level the playing field, we exclude each small company's five lowest-scoring criteria in computing the total score for that entry. Small companies will be measured primarily on features they implement well, with no loss of points for "missing" features.

    Who are the judges?
    We recruit our judges primarily from the membership of the ASP—support managers, analysts, Web designers, consultants, and other support professionals. We try to find a broad mix of talents and expertise so that our evaluations will reflect many points of view. The majority of our judges have already helped with at least one previous "Best Sites" competition, so they're pretty familiar with the scoring system and the challenges of Web support delivery.

    Can someone be a judge if their company also enters the competition?
    Yes. We don't give judges their own sites to evaluate, of course. We also won't assign a judge to evaluate sites developed by direct competitors, clients, or former employers.

    Will your judges sign non-disclosure agreements?
    If that's a concern, let us know in advance and we'll select judges for your entry who will agree to swallow a cyanide capsule rather than disclose your secrets. (Please note that the entry materials you provide should not include confidential material, since we publish selections from the winning submissions after the awards are presented.)

    How long does the judging take?
    If our judges all turn in their scores on time, we'll announce the winners by the end of May. The individual site evaluations will take two or three weeks to produce, and the "Year's Ten Best Sites" book should be ready mid-July.

    If you would like to receive notification by e-mail when this year's edition of the book becomes available, join our ASP alert.


    WINNING

    How much visibility will the winners get?
    For most winners, the most valuable publicity comes from posting our "award winner" logo on their support site, where it will be seen by customers and partners who visit the site. We also provide trophies and certificates that help remind your own support people about what a great job they're doing. And we blitz the world with press releases, which occasionally produce stories about individual winners. At least one large PC manufacturer in Austin, Texas, now brags about "award-winning support" in their TV commercials, which suggests that winning this award can have serious marketing value.

    How long can I display the awards logo?
    There's no limit (and no licensing fee, incidentally).

    If we don't win, what will we get?
    A lot. First, we'll show you how the judges scored your site in each of our 25 performance areas, and then compare these scores against category benchmarks to show your relative strengths and weaknesses. We'll also show you the text comments that the judges made about your site. And you'll get a complimentary copy of "The Year's Ten Best Web Support Sites," a book-length review of the year's winners (a $95 value).

    Can we find out where we ranked?
    No. We discourage the notion that Web support can be measured on a simple linear scale. We identify a group of ten companies that embody overall excellence and we show individual participants how they compare against category averages. Beyond that, we never disclose or publish individual rankings.