Spinning up the Webbys.
When the Webby Awards were created in 1996, the internet was really still in its infancy. That same year, AOL changed its pricing model from hourly to monthly, and Hotmail, the free email program, was rolled out. Search engines were just starting to rank their results according to relevancy.
The Webby Awards were started by a magazine called The Web, which was run by a technology publisher called IDG. “We started with 15 categories, which were all honoring websites. The submissions were judged by a group of experts, which is the foundation for our academy as it is today,” said Claire Graves, Executive Director for The Webby Awards.
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“We’ve grown as the internet has grown. We started off just honoring websites, but as more content was made on the internet, we started to grow. We started to honor video, then podcasts, and added mobile when the iPhone came out, and then social. This year, we expanded even more to honor games,” said Graves.
The breakthrough moment.
Ten years after their inception, it seemed that the Webby Awards had achieved royalty status. At the show, music legend, Prince, was presented with the Webby Lifetime Achievement Award for his visionary use of the internet to distribute music and connect with fans. The crowd gave him a standing ovation and rushed the stage.“From a production side, the year that we had Prince performing at the Webby’s was sort of a breakthrough moment. When people rush the stage, you know you’ve done something special,” said Steve Marchese, Executive Producer for The Webby Awards. He wasn’t wrong. Just prior to this, The Webby Awards were proclaimed “the Internet's highest honor” by the New York Times.
If you (re)build it, the traffic will come.
The largest amount of traffic on The Webby Awards site flows through the Winners Gallery. Here, visitors can view the most recent winners, and even look back through 22 years worth of award winning content. All the work that went into winning the awards is displayed, making the gallery an extremely valuable resource.
“The experience of searching through 22 years of content in a pretty massive archive, accessing that content, and experiencing it here on the site is incredibly important,” said Steve. “We’re an organization that gives an award for internet excellence, we need to have a website that also exemplifies that,” said Steve.
Since 2015, The Webby Awards team has worked to transition the site to be more centered around featured content and stories. Site flexibility has been a big focus along with user experience. “We do a lot of iterations on the site as well. Branded partnerships, building new galleries within the Winner’s Gallery,” said Graves.
There were even points at which I said, “you don’t have to keep emailing me, I know you’re on top of it,” said Steve.