A Few Suggestions
Be considerate of others. If your site is about hate, degradation, or abuse please apply for another award. We value freedom of expression, but also support an individual's right to be offended. If your site is overly profane or of questionable taste, it won't necessarily be eliminated, but may be posted with a parental advisory.
Consider your site's reason for being. Are you really making a genuine effort to inform, or are you simply part of the "rush to the Web?" Let us know you've been thinking.
Good navigation is very important. Are there links to all your pages on each page? Is it easily understandable? Do more for your guests than making them have to use the "Back" button on their browser.
Be conscientious on your application. We've received too many that say nothing more than "my site is cool, give me your award." We won't.
Proofread. Are there any misspelled words and/or grammatical errors? They will be noticed. We don't like to see spelling errors, especially on business sites. We're picky that way. Sometimes it takes more than an automated spell-checker program to determine proper context.
Do you use "height" and "width" attributes in your "img" tags to speed loading and improve formatting? It's a good habit to get into. Also use "alt" attributes to describe images for browsers without graphics. It helps with the search engines too.
You shouldn't have any internal broken links or missing graphics. Review the site yourself before we do. Wait until your site is finished to apply. All sites are always under construction, so remove the signs.
Please don't steal bandwidth from another site by linking to their graphics. Some people have to pay extra to their host when they exceed a byte count limit. If you use someone else's graphics, give them credit.
Is your text readable against your chosen background, and big enough for us to read without our bifocals? Are you aware that certain color combinations can cause problems for people prone to epileptic seizure?
Do you use frames responsibly? Do you trap other sites within your own framesets? Check your frame sizes at multiple screen resolutions. What looks nice at one size might look horrible on another.
Is there a consistent look and feel to your site, or is each page starkly different? Does it jump from one domain to another because you ran out of disk space? Did you actually have a plan, or just copy a dozen different pages you liked?
Don't be anonymous. We enjoy learning a bit about the person or the group behind the web site. An About Me page, or a short biography goes a long way toward helping us understand where you're coming from.
Content is still king. One purpose of the web is to inform. Originality and creativity will differentiate your site from the average and mainstream. Is your site merely a list of links? Many directories have been quite successful with that approach, but it isn't what we're looking for.
Present with style. Is it obvious you planned your layout and presentation before you put any HTML together? Don't make your home page scroll endlessly because you haven't planned a solid navigational concept. A well designed site incorporates appropriate color, themes, and typography.
Learn to optimize. When was the last time you waited five minutes for a page to load? That's why there's a stop button on all the browsers. You won't keep many visitors if your page takes forever to render, including us.
Originality demonstrates persistence. Your own creative art work and content show a willingness to go the extra mile. If your site consists of freeware graphics culled from all over the web, you've taken shortcuts. We recognize the handiwork of many of the web's finest designers, so if you ripped them off, we will notice.
Build your web site. Minimize the size of your graphics, speed things up if you can, and most important lighten-up, and have fun doing it! You will attract a lot more visitors, and keep them coming back as long as they can sense a little "happy professionalism" while surfing your site.
For additional advice about sound site building fundamentals, we strongly recommend you visit our Interviews with the Masters series. These experts have shared many marvelous tips and tenets derived from years of experience.
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