Our judges evaluate websites based on five criteria: Design, Content, Feature Functionality, Usability and Standards Compliance. To win an IMA your site must excel in each criterion, rise above your competitors' sites and deserve to be a top choice for your target market.
Our judges love new adventures. They love exploring websites and are always on the hunt for jaw-dropping perfection. Astonish us with your talent, creativity, innovation, attention to detail and overall professionalism. Our judges are easily wooed by sites that excel in the criteria below.
The design, or appearance, of a site is clearly important in establishing its appeal. We recognize that a well-conceived, well-developed design that serves the purpose of the site and stays on message requires talent and ability. The site’s use of color, space, graphics and layout should relay a consistent theme and offer visitors a sense of comfort and ease-of-use. Effective use of professional photography, strategically developed color palettes and appropriate use of typography are key elements of a great design implementation. A great design should not come at the expense of excessive download time. Design doesn’t have to be elaborate or “busy”; minimalist designs can sometimes be very appropriate and effective.
A website rich in graphic design is of little value if its content is weak, boring and useless. Content is more than just text; it includes the products, services, audio, video, animation and other information, links and tools on a site. The best websites present content in an appealing and engaging way and show clear relevance to their target audience. The best websites are well-written and marked by attention to detail and minimal grammatical and spelling errors.
If the code, scripts, forms and links on the site work individually and work together in perfect harmony, your site enjoys good functionality. Pages load quickly. E-commerce transactions flow seamlessly. There are no broken links. We also assess use of such innovative “add-ons” as viral marketing functions, advanced e-commerce, games, quizzes and user tools such as calculators, discussion threads, and mini-apps that provide information in innovative and useful ways. Good functionality should not attract attention to itself; it remains invisible to the user and doesn’t distract from the site’s primary message. In short, functionality is about ensuring the technology and programming on the site work well.
A site worthy of recognition provides the user with the features and functionality necessary to accomplish tasks and a design quality that affords stature and professionalism to the enterprise. Usability is defined as the way this design assists the user in finding key information and accomplishing intended tasks, the way these features are architected in order to make site use intuitive and forgiving of user mistakes. Specific examples of usability include consistent use of navigation elements, clear and easy-to-find hierarchies of information and contents, clearly defined links, and a lack of clutter and gratuitous animation/graphics. The site should flow smoothly and be difficult, if not impossible, to get lost in. All pages should allow for the user to return to the homepage or to the main pages they came from without requiring the use of the back button on the browser
Standards Compliance and Cross-Browser Compatibility
Websites should properly address the bugs that each of the major browsers may have and the different rendering styles of each browser/platform combination. While valid, standards-compliant markup should be used by developers as much as possible. Proper, validated markup helps ensure the usability, accessibility and cross-platform compatibility of the site, as well as its likelihood of being indexed appropriately by search engines. Good development and adherence to standards eases site maintenance and upgrade woes. Standards compliance is one way to ensure that the site is usable, and speaks to the effort, attention to detail, workmanship, pride of authorship, and professionalism of the developer(s).