I recently received a direct-mail announcement for a website competition. The multi-panel fold out highlighted seven benefits of winning one of the coveted awards: a handsome plaque, a spot on the winners page of the organization's website, mention in a press release, exceptional marketing opportunities, proof that your work meets industry standards, a resume highlight and setting yourself apart by being a top award winner.
Now I may be getting increasingly cynical as I get older, but these kinds of accolades just don't hold much value for me. A plaque? Just one more dust collector on my shelf. Recognition? The most valuable professional recognition I've ever received was from a client telling me they loved their website (years after it went live) and my boss telling me I'm a valuable member of the team. Personally, the best recognition is when my 4-year old son looks up at me and says, "You're the best, Dad!"
Most of Newfangled's business comes from word of mouth. That's a current client telling a prospective one, "Hey, I had a great experience working with these folks." We know our sites have high standards because we send them through round after round of testing. And we don't disappear after the site goes live, either. Some of our clients have been with us for 10 years.
Awards are nice (especially if they're in cash), but they can't take the place of pleasing your clients — and for me that means working with them to produce a solid website that provides them a high return on investment.