Judging of web site is done using a scoring system for various criteria. Sites receiving an overall score above 80 are eligible for one of the awards. Here are the criteria:
Your web site's content is the reason other genealogists visit. If your site contains no information and has nothing to say, the end result is you will have few, if any, visitors.
EASE OF NAVIGATION
Having tons of unorganized information is like dumping the contents of a file cabinet on the floor and then looking for a file when all the folders are unlabeled. So, it is imperative that a web site be organized in an understandable fashion that all visitors can easily follow. Everything on your web site should be readily accessible without having to search and scratch your head. This is navigation, and it's an important quality in our minds.
PAGE LOADING TIME
Most Internet "surfers" have little patience waiting for a web page with unknown contents to load. If a page takes over 30 seconds to load, chances are that the visitor has already clicked the "Back" button and gone on to something else. Genealogy sites exist to pass on information, not pretty unrelated graphics Pictures of your grandfather are great, but not if every visitor to the web site has to wait a minute for them to load. Instead, put them on a separate page and put a "Photograph of my Grandfather" link on the main page. That way, anyone who wants to see the photograph can endure the loading time while those who aren't interested don't have to sit and wait a minute for it to load.
GRAMMAR AND SPELLING
Minus up to 10 Points
There is little excuse for bad grammar, and no excuse for lousy spelling. We'll deduct up to 10 points for errors we find.
BROKEN OR MISSING LINKS AND/OR GRAPHICS
This comes under the heading of annoyance. It's not normally a major disaster on a web site unless the number of missing or broken links is excessive. Broken graphics links become important if they are used as links to other pages. Then there's the matter of tidiness and professionalism. Broken/missing graphics display prominently on a web page so the only reason for their existance is that the web page designer/maintainer has/did not even look at the web page. We'll deduct from 5 to 50 points for broken or missing links depending on how bad or critical they are.
Yes, pretty graphics do make a page attractive. Animated graphics have a fascination of their own. However, a page filled with useless, oversized or inappropriate graphics is an annoyance all the way around. They increase loading time of the page, confuse the organization, clutter up information, etc. Graphics should be used judiciously and appropriately. If they're not of your own creation, proper credit should be given to the artist who provided the graphics.
If, however, you direct us to a long-loading page full of useless, unneccessary graphics without giving us advance warning, we may deduct up to 10 points for you wasting our time.
WEB PAGE DESIGN
This is probably the most subjective criteria in our grading/judging system. A genealogy web page doesn't have to be a modern masterpiece of frames and graphics to get our attention. It just needs to be laid out in an attractive manner and employ color-coordinated backgrounds, text and graphics. A cluttered or jumbled layout in an ugly color scheme is a sure loser. And, any web page done with all text in capital letters sends us clicking the "Back" button in a hurry.
It is impossible to design a web page that displays IDENTICALLY in Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Netscape both. However, a web page should display in an acceptable manner in both browsers.
THE OOMPH! OR WOW! FACTOR
When "the" special web page comes along, you know it when it hits you smack-dab between the eyes and causes what cartoon artiists call the "doubletake." When we encounter such a web page, we award it with extra points.
If we get hung up in java, script, frames, etc. you can forget an award of any kind. That's an immediate failure and we exit your web site immediately.
SIZE OF THE WEBSITE
To get our awards, a web site doesn't have to have hundreds of pages, but we do take size into consideration. Two or three pages does not a web site make. To some extent, this falls into the area of content. However, size does impress us and we may award a few bonus points for the additional effort on your part.
WEB PAGE COORDINATION
Many of those who give out web site awards like to see each and every page on the web site look the same. Same style; same colors, etc. If you spend a lot of time on a web site, that can be rough on the eyes. Sort of like driving down a west Texas highway. We like a little variation. We don't deduct points if all the web pages are color coordinated, but we do sometimes give a few extra points for variation and originality - as long as it doesn't knock our eyeballs out.
ADVERTISING, WEB RINGS, ETC.
As cruel and unusual as it might sound, WE DO DEDUCT points if your web site has an inordinate amount of advertising, web rings, affiliates, etc. Remember that your visitors have come to your web site for genealogy. And, that's the reason they will keep returning. Depending on how cluttered your entrance page is, we could deduct up to 25 points here.
We're still looking for great genealogy web sites. Can your web site pass our tests?