April 15-18, 2009
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Best of the Web: Judges' Guidelines

Congratulations to the winning sites.

The Best of the Web Judges will review sites in nominated categories, and rate them according to the following Evaluation Criteria.

Version 1.5 – J. Trant.

(pending input from the MW2009 Judges)

Nominations for sites to be considered by the Best of the Web 2009 Judges will be accepted beginning in January 2009.


A site can be nominated for the Best of the Web 2009 if:

  1. it was launched or significantly enhanced in 2008 and
  2. it officially represents a museum (see the ICOM definition).

Anyone can nominate a site. Nominations from those other than the site's designer or host are encouraged.

Nominations are now closed. See the list of sites nominated.


The Best of the Web Judges consider Web sites nominated in each of the following categories:

At their discretion, Judges may make a separate award in each category for small museums/budgets, to explicitly recognise work from smaller institutions. They may also choose to make an Honorable Mention in any category.

Nominations are now closed. See the list of sites nominated.

The Judging Process and Schedule

Each judge will review sites in a particular category (or categories) and then participate in the selection of the Best of the Web.

The Timeline for Review follows. Criteria for evaluation are outlined below.

First Stage: Preliminary Category Review
Deadline: February 28, 2009

  • two Judges review each nominated site, providing rankings for each of the identified criteria
  • where there are a large number of sites nominated in a category, preliminary review will be divided among the Judges for the category.
  • each judge will review approximately 10 (ten) web sites.

In the Preliminary Review:

  • sites are assigned points (from 0 to 5) in each evaluation category
  • sites are flagged for the category short list
  • a maximum of 5 sites can be short-listed for any category; these are the semi-finalists.

Second Stage: Select Semi-Finalists / Category Winners
Deadline: March 15, 2009

  • all category Judges review the short list of sites
  • sites are again assigned points (from 0 to 5) in each evaluation category
  • sites are flagged for the category short list
  • a category winner is decided
  • possible best of the web sites are identified (finalists)

Third Stage: Select Best of the Web
Deadline: March 31, 2009

  • all Judges review the best from each category and sites identified as finalists
  • all Judges rank all finalists in all categories.
  • Best of the Web is identified
  • honorable mentions are identified

On-line voting for People's Choice Award
April 1-17, 2009

Final Stage: Awards Presentation
Deadline: April 17, 2009

  • all finalists are contacted and asked to prepare a 3 minute (maximum) tour of their site in a web-accessible format
  • finalists' presentations are used to demonstrate the sites at the awards presentation, and are mounted on the MW2009 Web site.

Evaluation Criteria

All sites will be evaluated using the same set of criteria. Judges will assign a score from zero (0) to five (5) points in each of the following areas, to create a total score out of twenty-five (25). In addition, Judges will offer written comments on the sites.

Appropriate to Category

Is the site an excellent example of the category where it is nominated?


Reflect on the information or experience delivered by the site. Was the content or experience offered:

  • engaging?
  • compelling?
  • interesting?
  • audience-appropriate?
  • current?
  • regularly updated?
  • open to user contributions?
  • relevant to and supportive of user goals?

Functionality + Technical Approach

Assess the choice of technology and functions used to deliver the site's content and build the site's construction.

Was the technology chosen:

  • well executed? (did it work?)
  • accessible?
  • appropriate to the content?
  • appropriate to the user?
  • supportive of interaction with the content?
  • supportive of the user experience (search, print)?

Interface: Visual Design and Usability

Consider the way that the site was presented visually. How was the site designed? Was the visual presentation of the site:

  • visually appealing?
  • consistent?
  • supportive of user tasks?
  • understandable?
  • sympathetic to the content?
  • appropriate to the target user?
  • accessible?


Review the ways in which the site took advantage of the Web, explored relationships between objects or ideas, and encouraged the user to engage with the content presented, with the sponsoring institution, and/or with other users. Did the site:

  • provide appropriate links amongst related content and content areas?
  • encourage user input?
  • support interaction amongst users?
  • enable contribution of user content?
  • indicate how to contact the institution?
  • remain accessible?


Consider the impact the site had on you.

  • Was your experience memorable?
  • Did you want to go back?
  • Did you stay a long time?
  • Did you have fun?
  • Did it make you smile or think?

Sources Consulted