Focus of the Best Website Award

Does anyone know what the focus of the judging is for the Best Website Award?

As far as I have been told, there is a rubric that basically grades 50/50 on design/content.

I have been working on my team’s website and I would like to know more about what they are looking for. As for right now, I know my team’s site is seriously lacking in content, but I believe we have done very well in the design area.

Any comments and suggestions would be appreciated.

There is a rubric in section 5 of the manual. It gives the EXACT form the judges use to evaluate your teams website.

I’ll edit this post with critique later, I’ve got a paper :slight_smile:

Editing, as promised directly from the rubric.

Content (50 points)

How well does the site explain FIRST and promote its vision?
0 - The site doesn’t have an explanation at all that I could find but you mentioned there is lack of content so it should be easily fixable.

Is there a prominent link to the FIRST website on the website home page?
4 - There is a link to FIRST on the home page, that is also on every page, I like that. But the logo you are using is not in compliance with the FIRST Logo standards which can be found here

Does the site use correct FIRST terminology and contain the updated FIRST logo?
3 - While the site uses the terminology, FIRST should be in italics whenever possible, versus just putting down FIRST. I wish this information was overly stressed to teams more becuase it is often overlooked by many websites. You can find a thread about the proper ways to write FIRST here. Again, the site uses the updated FIRST logo but does not comply with the FIRST logo standards.

Does the website clearly tell the team story and contain the team name, FIRST program team number and physical location of the team?
3 - The “about us” page is very weak, it lacks information and I prefer sites that give a more personal feel to the team. Meanwhile, the “team history” page looks like it’s one the right track to a very nice way to look back and say “hey this is what we did 3 years ago” The site contains the team name, and number but doesn’t clarify if the team participate in FRC, FTC, FLL directly, all it says is “FIRST Robotics team” on the home page.

Does the website contain updated information dealing with the current season?
3 - I really liked the amount of photos in the gallery but it was very slow loading and hard to navigate with. The calender with upcoming events on the right is really nice, but the fact that you loose all navigation when you click on an event is discouraging.

Does the website include recognition of sponsors, mentors and volunteers?
2 The sponsors page was really nice, but there was nothing for mentors and volunteers other than few names listed under some of the sponsors. Also, you might want to try providing a link to the sponsors website.

Does the website include helpful resources for other FIRST teams?
0 - Not much to say here, there just wasn’t any

Does the website contain helpful non-text content such as music, sound, animation , or video?
2 - There is a photo gallery, which is non-text content but it’s very underdeveloped to be considered helpful or make up for the lack of video/animation

Is this site dedicated exclusively to a FIRST team and its activities?
5 - This one is easy, but you would be surprised at how many teams aren’t 100% FIRST team sites.

Does this site follow copyright infringement rules correctly?
2 - The site violates both the FIRST logo guidelines and the guidelines set forth by FIRST for using the Overdrive artwork, which are as follows

“*FIRST *Overdrive” Game Logo

NOTE: Please adhere to the following guidelines when using the “FIRST Overdrive” game logo:

  1. Graphic can be printed on team T-shirts; however, if the T-shirt is white, the following guidelines must be observed:

    • Graphic cannot be more than 6-inches wide
    • Graphic cannot be centered on the front or back of the T-shirt
    • Design must include FRC team number in addition to the game graphic

These size and placement restrictions apply only to white T-shirts.

  1. Graphic cannot be altered or deconstructed in any way.

  2. Graphic must be surrounded by 1/4" protected space.

  3. Graphic cannot be incorporated into anything for sale without written approval from FIRST Marketing. Please e-mail requests to FIRST Marketing and allow 2 business days for response.

If you are unsure that your use is within these guidelines, *FIRST *Marketing is willing to review any items to be distributed for gift or promotional purposes. Please e-mail requests to FIRST Marketing and allow 2 business days for response.

Section Score: 24/50

Visual Design (25 points)

Does the website communicate a visual experience reflective of the identity of the team?
5 - I really enjoy the way the identity is shown, it’s not too much and it’s not too little. A perfect balance between imagery and functionality for the website.

Is the site engaging and does it encourage exploration?
3 - The navigation is unfavorable in my opinion, only becuase you have to wait for it to slowly open the sub menus, if you’re looking for important information you should be able to just click.

Does the fort size and format make the site easy to read?
4 - I really like how easy this site is to read but when I lower my monitors brightness, it slowly starts to disappear, you may not believe it but some people still have old monitors that aren’t able to display as vibrant of an image as todays LCDs and flat screens.

Does the website contain visuals relating to the current game and the current season’s work as a team?
2 - The site has one visual, one that violates the Overdrive guidelines as stated above, that also makes content seem less important. If you were to correct the violations and make the image smaller, then you would really have something. Also, so my comments about the gallery above.

Is the home pate inviting to all readers, or is it cluttered with team member specific information?
3 - The home page is missing some serious content. There’s maybe one or two sentences when you show up there. Check out other team sites to see what they’re doing, or go to other websites you frequently visit. Imagine if the CD portal page only had three lines of text!

Section Score: 17/25

Functionality and Interactivity (25 points)

Does the website work well and the homepage load quickly?
4 - There are a lot of images on the home page, but overall decent load time for the amount of images used

Do the links work throughout the site?
4 - The links work, but there wasn’t many links to click that were not for content pages

Is important information easily accessible?
3 - Having to wait for the navigation to open was really bothering me, and then not knowing what information would be in the sub menus made it difficult to find what I was looking for.

Do external links open new, separate browser windows?
2 - I found two external links, one to the FIRST website, and one to the topsite page. The one FIRST opened in a new window, while the one for topsite did not. There was an lack of external links to test this on.

Can I easily return to the website from an outside link?
5 - This requirement still baffles me today, unless the website shuts down the users computer or closes the browser, I don’t see how any team can get less than a 5 on this one. Someone want to prove me wrong? :slight_smile:

Section Score: 18/25

Total: 59

Yes, the awards section of the manual gives an exact breakdown, each question is graded on a 1-5 scale. I believe you should be receiving notes on what the judges said about your website, check to see if you can see them.

Could you do the same for my team’s site,, in this thread? I realize that we won Best Website already at Detroit, but I would like to improve it for next year.

I disagree with the FIRST only. I will gladly lose website award points if it means that I will also be representing the Robonauts Botball team that won the Texas Regional Competition. Also with the “FIRST” and “FIRST” deal, as long as you’re consistent it shouldn’t matter. I would like to see how you would critique the site I designed.

We won at VCU out of a field of 64 teams.
Your welcomed to check it out.
Some of the comments we received from the website judges on our win, was the fact that we were able to convey very clearly our story of the learning that took place in our robotics program with detailed accounts of the build season, theme, and following the website rubric in detail.

After consistently losing the web award at Florida regional for the past four years (and I say this in a positive way, without hard feelings), let me share some of the things that do not work:

Logo violations: I know, “no big deal”. Its a pain to follow, looks crappy… but its just not worth getting points off for. We have had minor FIRST logo violations on every theme we have used to try and make it match the background. Mind you, these were not obvious or unsightly… they actually look much better and are more readable of the usual white box approach. However, the judges aren’t given wiggle room for “it looks good, but its violating rules”. It is a hard and fast rule, so just blindly follow it. You can take some creative approaches to make it match, such as has expertly achieved.

Crappy navigation: It doesn’t matter if you have over 9000 pieces of content if they can’t find it. Create a simple and logical way to find content on your site, and try to stick to the minimum that fulfills all the rules - make it amazing, and well organized. Only when your root required content is considered “perfect” move on to creating more pages. Note that creativity isn’t punished (and is sometimes rewarded… 1065’s Spanish translation in 2007 comes to mind), but time is limited and is better spent meeting the main requirements.

High bandwidth multimedia: While probably everybody here is running on highspeed connections, keep in mind page load times and the amount of bandwith you’re using. Creating two different versions of your site is impractical and a waste of time in my opinion, but just keep in mind as you design your pages and layout how long it will take to load. Having videos auto-play is frowned on, and you need to test your site on as many platforms (FF/IE/Opera - Win/Mac) as possible. can help with this - you just put in your web address and it takes screenshots on different platforms for you automagically. And as a given, keep profanity off of your site.

Gorgeous layouts: While this is the “fun” part of website designing for most people, this is NOT the place to spend your time. Content > looks, at least according to the web judging. Its very easy to dump your life into making your site look great, while still having nothing of value on the pages. Don’t get me wrong, its important, but either write the content yourself or get someone on your team working on it ahead of starting on through redesigns.

Upgrading in the middle of season: If you are running a CMS based site, such as Drupal, Joomla!, PHP-Nuke, etc, don’t upgrade unless you absolutely have to during the build season. Wait till summer! I know most web designers won’t heed this… but no matter how much you plan ahead and backup (which can never be enough) - something will go wrong in the process. The way web design usually works is that nobody says a word until its “done”, or if it breaks. And you will get a lot of the latter. If for some reason you absolutely have to upgrade, make sure you have a good fall back plan. Download a FULL backup from your host ahead of time so you can restore the site overnight if need be. This also applies, even more so, with during the judging period. Try your hardest not to install new features, plugins, themes… don’t touch it! Work on content, create news stories… keep it simple! Otherwise things will break.

Not following the web judging chart EXACTLY: This cannot be stressed enough. If you look at your site and say “oh, thats good enough”, it isn’t. Make it so that without a doubt, without a second thought, it is clearly met. Again, this cannot be stressed enough. THIS IS WHAT WINS YOU WEB AWARDS!. If you want to win, follow the chart Michelle posted. They go by it exactly. Word for word. So just, again, blindly follow and make them happy. Have other students on the team to be critical and judge it following the rubric.

If you follow these not so simple suggestions, you will win a web award. Its so hard to not get distracted with interesting features or making a beautiful theme that these are heavily neglected points. It all just depends on how bad you want to win… you don’t have to put in more time, just relocate your energy to other areas of the site.

Good luck to everyone in the future, and I hope this post helps some aspiring web designers on teams out there!

If you would like to rate our site too that would be nice as this is the FIRST year we have it up and I have been teaching myself as I have been building it that would be nice thanks. the site is

I was not able to find graphic standards for the overdrive logo when i created the banner FIRST must have lost their decent graphic designers cause the overdrive logo itself looks awful.

About the FIRST in text, I was not aware that this had become a rule, I covered the graphic standards very finely last year and they stated to NOT make the FIRST text appear out of place by making it bold, italics, or anything other than capitals.

Is the FIRST logo really violating the standards? It clearly follows the empty-space and size reqs. I could see a slight possibility of the background but I believe it was in accordance with last years standards if they have changed them which I don’t think they have. I will look it over again.

We really do need to work on the content, there is supposed to be someone working on that this year but we never got anyone.

Thanks for the review we will get working on it, and man i completely missed the fact that topsite didn’t open a new window lol

I’ve never understood why they want external links to open in new windows, when not only is target=“_blank” depreciated in strict XHTML, but it is also considered bad](The Top 10 Web Design Mistakes of 1999) web design. :confused:

Could you do this for our team site?