The Big Picture

How do You Define the Categories?
We have three categories of companies in the competition. Small is for companies under $100million in annual 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 their category (Large Company Division, five to six awards;Medium Company Division, 3three to four awards; Small Company Division, one to two awards, depending on how many enter in each category) become the “Years Ten Best Web Support Sites.”

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.

Eligibilty

Do We Have to be ASP Members to Participate?
No.

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.

Entry Process

When is the Deadline?
In 2019, the deadline will be Tuesday, April 30. We can also accept late entries (with a late fee) during the following week. And, if we still have judges available, we may be able to process entries as much as three to four weeks after the deadline. But if you’re going to be that 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 your essay.)

Why do We Have to Write an Entry Essay?
The essay helps the judges understand why youve made specific design and implementation decisions about your site. This is 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 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 helps to get more favorable treatment  from the judges, so it is probably worth more to you than just the points allocated.

What’s the Purpose of the Challenges Part of the Essay?
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 Part of the Essay?
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 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 cant describe your biggest challenge and three key features in this space, youre probably trying to cram too much into what should be a simple document.

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. 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 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 emailed to you. Please submit your entry form and essay to ahahn@asponline.com. Entry essays must be submitted as a two electronic files,  both PDF and Word versions. The entry form page should be a separate file, also in PDF format. You can find more information about this by checking the Entry Form.

What if We Send You a Hard Copy Entry?
We will lay it gently in the recycling bin and ask you to resubmit your entry as requested. We are not mailing hard copies to judges.

How do We Pay the Entry Fee?
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?
Well 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 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 be aware that we have implemented the most significant changes to our scoring ever this year. For 20 years we made small, incremental changes and finally it was time to rethink the scoring to make sure we were keeping up with all the changes in self-service website. 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, or that even offered 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.

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.

Who are the Judges?
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. Every judge is vetted for relevant expertise.

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 former 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 gave 50-100 judges each year, all judging 5 sites each. The logistic 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 July. The individual site evaluations will take two or three weeks to produce after that, and the “Years Ten Best Sites” report should be ready during September. We have been changing the dates slowly the past two years and will continue to change them slightly next year to avoid scheduling conflicts with our March Conference.

If you would like to receive notification by e-mail when this years edition of the Top Ten report becomes available, join our ASP NEWS List.

Winning

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 ten 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 text comments that the judges made about your site. And youll get a complimentary copy of “The Years Ten Best Web Support Sites,” a book-length review of the years winners (a $300 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, now brags about “award-winning support” in their TV commercials, which suggests that winning this award can have serious marketing value.