When the Webby Awards launched in 1996, approximately 100 million people were logging on to and browsing the World Wide Web. Sixteen years later, nearly 70 billion people are surfing the web with increasing sophistication, while internet technology continues to change daily.
But while the online world constantly evolves, the objective of the Webby Awards, the most prominent and prestigious of Internet awards shows, has stayed the same.
“Our mission statement was always to honor the best of the web,” said David-Michel Davies, executive director of the Webby’s. “But the scope has changed dramatically.”
For the first decade, Webby’s were only awarded to web sites, but in 2006, the Webby Awards launched categories honoring interactive advertising and original film and video that premiered on the internet, and in 2007, began honoring mobile websites. This year’s new categories are for best editorial writing, social media and corporate social responsibility.
“The change for the Webby’s mirrors the change in the internet,” said Davies.
The winners of the 16th annual Webby Awards were announced on May 1 and will be honored at an awards ceremony and gala at the Hammerstein Ballroom on May 21, hosted by Patton Oswalt. Within each of the four categories of Webby’s — Websites, Interactive Publishing, Online Film & Video and Mobile Apps — are dozens of sub-categories. This makes for hundreds of winners, and many of them are based here in New York City.
MetroFocus takes a look at four winners that are based in, or have offices in, the Big Apple:
Unstuck: Winner in the Lifestyle category, in the media type Tablet and Other Devices
Unstuck is an iPad app that allows users to tap into an online community when feeling “stuck,” which could mean anything from having problems at work to being unsure about a relationship’s future. With the help of the app, Unstuck helps users devise a way to get out of a problem, or correct a course of action.
Google Wallet: Winner in the Experimental and Innovation category, in the media type Mobile & Apps, Handheld Devices
Google Wallet aims to revolutionize the way money passes from one hand to the next. The virtual wallet allows smart phone users to pay for goods by simply tapping their phone on a Google wallet reader. Many retailers are equipped to accept Google Wallet.
Citizenship Works: Winner in the Law category, in the media type General Website
Citizenship Works is an online tool that allows users to easily navigate the naturalization process. Created for low- to moderate-income level individuals, this website provides interactive tools and tutorials to help a person understand if they are eligible for naturalization, and what steps need to be taken.
The 99%: Winner in the Cultural Blog category, in the media type General Website
99 percent is a project of the website network Behance, an online platform that brings creative professionals together to broadcast their work in one place. The website features articles, tips, videos and more.
To see the complete list of winners, visit the Webby Awards winner’s page.
WATCH VIDEO:At last year’s Webby Awards, the journalist Christiane Amanpour described how the internet helped mobilize the Egyptian revolution and presented a special award to Muhamed Diab and Amr Salama. YouTube/ The Webby Awards.
What it takes to win
Winners were chosen by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS), made up of judges such as President & Editor-in-Chief of Huffington Post Media Group Arianna Huffington, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone and “The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening. For each category there is also a People’s Voice Award, and this year a record breaking 1.5 million votes were cast. Winners receive the award, recognition and free advertising.
“If you win, you get a lot of exposure,” said Davies. But what’s more, “Winning a Webby sets a benchmark.”
So how does one win a Webby? With great content and visual design.
“It’s a fast changing medium, but the criteria we had sixteen years ago is the same today,” Davies said.
A site or app that is ahead of its time is great, Davies said, but first and foremost it has to serve a purpose. Webby Awards are not given out to websites or projects that are technologically advanced, but rather, are awarded to sites that work well, while also being creative.
“What tends to do well in the Webby’s is work that is interesting to regular people but is also compelling,” Davies said.
While Davies could not predict what the future of the internet would look like, or what the next category of the Webby Awards might be, he did say that New York City is a growing hot bed of tech innovation.
For more technology news, watch “MetroFocus: The Tech Economy,” airing on THIRTEEN on June 30 at 5 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. and July 12 at 8:30 p.m.; on WLIW at 5:30 a.m. on June 30; on NJTV on July 1 at 5:30 a.m. and July 2 at 4:30 a.m.