Non-US entries in Webbys on the rise

Nominations for the Webby Awards are still dominated by US-based sites but non-American entries are rapidly catching up.

Nominations for the Webby Awards are still dominated by US-based sites but non-American entries are rapidly catching up.

The Webbys, which give out 30 awards each year in categories ranging from best children's site to news and personal sites, are in their sixth year of competition and according to Webby founder Tiffany Shlain the international side of the web is growing in leaps and bounds.

"Last year around 15% of the nominations were from non-US sites, up from 10% the year before. We're expecting a similar jump this year."

Nominations for this year's awards close at the end of January but are already up on the previous year's entries by 200%.

"We weren't sure what to expect after the rough year everyone's had. We didn't think we'd go backwards but would have been quite happy if we'd stayed still. But instead we've seen a huge increase in entries."

The awards are judged by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, a broad-based body created to judge the Webbys and to bring in expertise from beyond the internet community, for example, from the film industry or the music world.

"I think that's what made the Webbys such a success in the beginning, because there were a few other awards launching at the same time," says Schlain. "We had created the Academy to be impartial and to include members from all walks of life."

So what makes a good Webby site? Shlain says forget traffic numbers or how much your site cost to build – the judges at the Webbys are not interested. Nor do they want to hear about your marketing budget or the number of banner ads you've got on your site.

"We look at content, interactivity, navigation, functionality, overall experience. We like to mix internet judges with those that are experts in their field, which helps. I guess it's consistency of excellence." Judges will check back on a site regularly to ensure that it's an ongoing operation and doesn't stagnate as soon as it's built.

Shlain says the dot-com crash has meant the players that remain in the internet space are dedicated to the internet as a medium, and that means getting back to fundamentals.

"People used to have all this money to support all these staff to produce material and they're going back to the foundation of what is so great about the web which is linking to other sites and the sharing of information. That's what it's all about."

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