The Big Picture
How do You Define the Categories?
Since it is likely that bigger companies have more resources to work with, we have three categories of companies in the competition. Small is for companies under $100million in total annual corporate revenues. Medium is for companies from $100m to $999Million. Large companies are for those $1Billion and larger.
How Does the Judging Process Work?
Each entry is reviewed by a panel of five (sometimes more) independent judges, using a scoring system that measures 25 different performance criteria. The sites with the highest scores in the competition will be honored in the ASP Best Web Support Sites. In addition, this year we will ask the judges to nominate sites that have truly outstanding areas of their sites, but may not have great scores across the board. For example, we might have a Best Community,Best Personalization, Best AI tool, or a Best Search award.
We’re a Tiny Division of a Big Company. What’s Our Category?
We only allow for total corporate revenues, so if you are owned by a larger company, that revenue is what counts. We do verify all small and medium entrants. How do we know if your parent company is slipping you some money on the side? We have to keep the competition equal.
How Many Companies Enter the Competition?
This varies from year to year. We never have a problem finding ten worthy sites to become winners. Typically there are similar numbers of entries for large and medium companies, but sometimes not as many small companies. This should not be a deterrent as we have had small companies score higher than many medium and large companies in the past.
Do We Have to be ASP Members to Participate?
What About Overseas Entries?
We’ve had winners from outside the U.S. in the past (including Canada, China, the U.K., Israel, Austria, Australia, Finland, and Germany), 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. By the way, we do encourage multiple languages and awards points accordingly.
When is the 2020 Deadline?
In 2020, the deadline will be Monday, June 22nd. We can also accept late entries (with a late fee) during the following week. But if you’re going to be late, check with us first. You must pay the entry fee by the deadline and it is not refundable if you still don’t get your entry in on time. It is very difficult to assign judges when all the entries are not in on time, and causes considerable chaos. (By the way—the deadline is based on when we receive the entry, which includes your entry form, payment and essay if you are sending one).
Do We Have to Write an Entry Essay? Not Anymore, We now have an online form
You don’t have to submit an essay any more, but you still can, if you choose to. We now have an online form that essentially asks the same questions that the essays did. The form is substantial and may take a while to fill out, but it is easier than writing an essay. You can still submit an essay if you choose, and then your entry form is very short. Essays/form responses are 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 or the online form represents 20% of the total points the judges can award for your site. Our judges are all truly independent and some of them are probably not familiar with your products and customers. Your essay/form responses help to get more favorable treatment from the judges, so it is probably worth more to you than just the points allocated. Since this is the first year that we have offered the online form, the judges will probably still have a preference for the essays, so they may provide a small advantage.
What’s the Purpose of the Challenges Question?
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 Question?
This section helps the judges identify features or areas of the site that they should look at most closely. Its a good idea to use this section to explain why you feel these features are exceptional, and to supply metrics and other background information for context.
How Long Can the Form Responses/Essay be?
Our judges used to complain that essays were sometimes too long to read. So were 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. For form responses, please try to answer the question with a paragraph. The longer ones may take a page or two.
Can We Write About Something Other than Challenges and Key Features?
Only as explained in the scoring. Site metrics and site improvement processes are important parts of the scoring of the essays/forms. Please read these sections carefully to understand their importance in the scores. These components act as an open-ended template. The judges often refer to the essay/form responses in assigning scores to all areas of your site, so help them to score your site effectively.
How do We Submit an Entry?
Please pay for your entry online using Submit Your Site under the AWARDS pull down menu. Once you have paid, you will get the entry form you choose (with essay/without) emailed to you. Please submit your entry form and essay to firstname.lastname@example.org. Entry essays must be submitted as a two electronic files, both PDF and Word versions. The entry form page should be in a separate file, also in PDF and Word format. You can find more information about this by checking the Entry Form.
How Much Does it Cost? How do We Pay the Entry Fee?
Small companies (under $100 million in total corporate revenues) pay $900, medium-sized companies (over $100 million and less than $1 billion) pay $1,200, and large companies (over $1 billion) pay $1,500. Please pay for your entry on our website at Submit Your Site via credit card. If your company insists on mailing a check, please start that process with sufficient lead time to allow it to reach us by the deadline. We also accept electronic funds transfer, but again, allow sufficient lead time to get it through purchasing. If we are not already an approved vendor, this can take months (not because of us, because of your purchasing).
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— every year we’re given passwords that don’t work, and this makes our judges cranky. That is not a very good way to keep judges positive about your website.
Judging and Scoring
How do We Find Out About the Scoring System?
It’s in the pull down menu under AWARDS. You can 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). Please read the scoring carefully and email us if you have any questions.
Some of the Scoring Criteria don’t Apply to Our Site. Will We be at a Disadvantage?
Not necessarily. In fact, we’ve never seen a site that excelled in all 25 of our performance metrics, and some don’t even offer all of the features we measure. 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. Also, this year we will be making awards to sites that have outstanding features, but may not have high overall scores, so there are still chances to receive an award. In fact, our judges will also look outside of the actual scoring criteria for nominees, so new innovations can be recognized.
How Can a Small Company with Limited Resources Compete Against the Big Guys?
That’s why we have a Small, Medium and Large Company categories. The entries in each category compete only against each other to level the playing field. We have had small companies beat many large company scores in the recent past, so overachieving is not only possible, it has been done more than once.
Who are the Judges?
Although not all judges are members, 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. One of our judges has judged for us for 20 years. Every judge is vetted for relevant expertise and conflict of interest with the sites that they are assigned to.
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 recent employers. We check every judge for conflicts of interest every year for every site that they judge. We often have to reassign several judges to avoid conflict.
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. We frankly discourage this issue as you can imagine the problems it causes. Typically we have 50-100 judges each year, all judging 5 sites each. The logistics are fearsome and complications cause real difficulties. (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 end of August. The individual site evaluations will take two or three weeks to produce after that, and the ASP Best Support Websites report should be ready by October. We have been changing the dates slowly the past three years to avoid scheduling conflicts with our March Conference.
If you would like to receive notification by e-mail when this years edition of the ASP Best Support Websites report becomes available, join our ASP NEWS List.
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 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.
If We don’t Win, What Will We Get?
A lot. First, well 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. Well also show you the comments that the judges made about your site. And you’ll get a complimentary copy of the ASP Best Support Websites,” a review of the years winners (a $400 value).
How Long Can I Display the Awards Logo?
Theres no limit (and no licensing fee, incidentally).
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 that help remind your own support people about what a great job theyre 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, has bragged about “award-winning support” in their TV commercials, which suggests that winning this award can have serious marketing value.