Favourite Website Awards——theFWA, 业界真正称得上无人不知无人不晓的几个站点之一, 集合了网页设计界最高水准的展示平台。全球的网页设计师每天都要在FWA上观摩作品与寻找灵感, 代理商与制作公司也以获得FWA的各类奖项为荣。互动中国这次采访了FWA的创始人Rob Ford, 他将代表FWA为大家解密这家行业评奖风向标的创立、历史、机制、以及未来。
采访、编辑: DamnDigital Newsroom (原创内容, 转载请注明来自DamnDigital)
Damn: FWA团队目前有多少人手和部门? 这些部门都分别负责什么职能?
FWA: 我们拥有一个85人的评审团队，其中51人负责审查SOTD（Site of The Day，下同），34人负责审查MOTD（Mobile of The Day，下同）。我自己负责一般的日常运营与项目维护，当需要做设计以及网站建设的时候我们会去找Group94，我们还有一些支持人员，比如财务、法务、商业顾问等。
Damn: 你们的办公室在哪儿? 还是说你们目前都是SOHO? 如果是远程办公的话，你们怎么解决沟通与合作方面的问题的?
Damn: 接下来我们想了解一下评委方面。FWA的评委是从哪里选择的? 你们有一支固定的评委团队么? FWA选择评委的标准又是什么?
Damn: 不同分类的作品是由不同评委团队审核的么? 一般一次评审流程需要多长时间?
Damn: 关于FWA TV，我们知道所有在FWA获过奖的团队每周都有一小时时间在这个平台展示自己，不过你们对FWA TV的定位是什么? FWA TV未来会发展成什么样? 为什么你们不去为它做一个移动app，而是鼓励用户直接上浏览器观看?
FWA: FWAweb TV是我们的一个新项目，很多代理商都在上面直播了有趣的内容。不过现在我们开始对内容进行审核与选择，并且期望能做出一个内容更实用的迭代版本。我很理解观众们既希望看到有趣的内容，又希望内容很实用。我们的底线是这样一个平台必须能吸引很多人的参与并有机的成长起来。
我们基于以下两点理由没有做FWA TV的APP: 第一是我们没有足够的预算去让这个APP覆盖所有的平台，第二是我们希望一个mobile版的网站（FWA）能统筹所有的移动设备。
Damn: 最近你们接受了移动类作品的参赛，但是为什么选择这个时间点创建这样一个分类? 要知道离开只能移动平台开发的大潮已经过去一年多了（从ipad1发售开始算起），你们是如何考虑的? FWA对移动类作品的审查机制与web类有什么不同么?
Damn: 你对移动时代的来临有什么看法呢? 现在看来每个人都围着智能手机与平板电脑打转——更重要的问题是，作为行业标杆的FWA，你们认为移动狂潮之后的大热点是什么? 为什么这么认为?
Damn: 能告诉我们一些FWA自己的“未来”计划么? 在未来的一段时间内你们将会为我们带来什么好玩的新东西?
FWA: 新一代FWA TV，以及一本关于移动作品的study book——The App and Mobile Case Study Book。年末我们也将会开始FWA Site of the Year 2011和People’s Choice Award 2011的评选，我也一直和其他品牌探讨联合进行创意合作的方法，近期将会有一个新的project出现，总之敬请期待。
在90年代中期的时候我开始越来越深入的接触网络——其实是为了下载免费游戏。然后我开始想拥有一个个人网站，于是又去学了HTML，然后是Flash 3，我成立了一家叫Treecity的小公司为别人做一些小的flash和网页设计。 当我的公司获得了UK Web Award 时，我开始意识到一个奖项能带给人们多大的快乐。我开始参与一些奖项的评审工作，期间我看到大部分颁奖机构在不断宣称自己多权威的同时却从不向公众展示那些“厉害”的获奖作品，因此我想更进一步，于是在2000年五月，FWA诞生了。当年我设立FWA的初衷只是为了展示那些与flash相关的设计，当然，现在完全不一样了。
Damn: 你觉得FWA和其他同类站点最大的区别是什么? 是什么特质让你们成为了行业标杆?
Damn: 除了FWA之外你还有别的兴趣所在么? 请列出三个除了FWA之外你最喜欢的站点。
Damn: 互动中国曾经做过两期《历年被FWA收录的中国网站 大陆地区篇/港台篇/国际友人篇》，在制作过程中我们发现FWA上的中国作品或者都出自少数几个设计师之手，或者就是不够商业化，你们对此有什么建议么?
Damn: How many people are there in FWA team? How many departments do FWA have and what are their functions?
FWA: FWA has a team of 85 judges, 51 for site of the day and 34 for mobile. I personally handle the daily running and maintenance of the project and use the services of our design/development team at group94 when required, plus the advice and services of our business advisors, legal and accounts.
Damn: Where do your office located, or you prefer SOHO more? If you’re working in the latter, how do you manage the problems such as incontinence of cooperation or communication?
FWA: Even though FWA is a huge and globally recognized brand, we don’t have or need large offices. In fact, it is crucial for projects created by individuals that you keep overheads to a minimum. This is why the entire project is run remotely, with everyone staying connected by email etc. Personally, I am based in Cambridge in the UK.
ABOUT THE JUDGMENT:
Damn: People always wonder that what the “well-developed criteria” is, we already know you have several aspects to judge from, and public voting part, but can you reveal more it for us in addition?
FWA: Over the last 11 years, FWA has evolved and has moved away from a points scoring system for SOTD and MOTD winners. We now focus on having a large team of judges, who all vote either “yes” or “no” on submitted sites. Those sites which achieve the highest percentage of votes, above 70%, go on to be eligible to be winners.
Public voting is entirely different. This area of the site was introduced to give our users the chance to judge sites for themselves as they often emailed to let us know when we awarded a site they didn’t like. When sites are submitted to FWA they immediately are on view in the “Latest submissions” area of the site. This is where anyone can vote and judge them by voting “yes” or “no”. After 7 days of public voting, those sites that received at least 70% “yes” votes are then listed on the “Public shortlist”. This is not an FWA award but it does show how the public rate sites. One of the reasons the public votes will never decide the daily winners is because it’s very easy to get friends, work colleagues etc to vote for sites.
Basically, winning a SOTD is the actual FWA award and this is decided by our expert industry panel of judges. A Public Shortlist entry is more about praise from the community but not an award as such.
Damn: We also want to have a study of the juries. Where are the juries come from? Does FWA have a regular jury team? Can you tell us your criteria of selecting juries?
FWA: The judging teams, SOTD is 51 people and MOTD is 34 people. The judges change quite often as there is a big commitment to judges submissions every day. Judges are also from all over the world. I also like to make sure we have a lot of young judges as they have more passion and enthusiasm for this medium. They are also better at knowing what the future trends are. We also have some global creative directors and high level managers as judges. Overall, a very eclectic mix.
It’s important also to have people from different countries so that we can always understand different language sites.The only criteria to becoming a judge is to have won at least 1 FWA award before. That could be for a personal site or as a member of a team that won.I usually post judging vacancies on my twitter feed @fwa. So, follow that account if you would like to know when new vacancies are coming up.
Damn: Are the submissions from different category judged by different jury teams or all submissions handled by one team? How long will the judgment process go? Please take the SOTD (site of the day) as an example.
FWA: As said above, SOTD is one team and MOTD another. Some judges are on both teams. The judging process can be a couple of days or a few weeks if the voting is very close. Sometimes it’s so close that I have to make the final decision myself.
ABOUT NEW PRODUCTS:
Damn: Move to next stage, we’ve acknowledged that all FWA awarded agencies have one hour a week showing something interesting, but what is the positioning of FWA TV, and what you hope it become in further days? Why do you recommend people just to use mobile browser for watching instead of making an app for it?
FWA: FWAwebTV is a new platform for FWA and in the early days of it a lot of agencies had great fun and threw parties. Now things have settled down and we are looking at launching version 2 of the platform, with a focus on more useful content. I totally understand that people what to see live shows which are sometimes entertaining but also sometimes very informative and useful. The bottom line is that this is an amazing platform and to have so many global agencies interested in taking part means that we can organically grow this project so that there is always something interesting to watch.
We haven’t made an app for 2 reasons. One reason is that we do not have a large budget and that to make an app would mean making apps for all different platforms. Therefore, it makes more sense to just have one mobile site that will work over all devices.
Damn: Now you acquire mobile apps/websites submissions, do you think it seems a little bit late since the hurricane of mobile and apps have been blowing for more than one year (since iPad 1 launched)? What’s your consideration? And does FWA have a special review process of the new category?
FWA: We started to accept mobile entries two years ago and then, on 1 September 2010, we launched the dedicated mobile showcase site at m.thefwa.com. Here we focus purely on mobile submissions, apps etc. Anything that is for mobile and handheld devices. We are seeing this gain quite a lot of momentum lately as submissions are rising every week.
The review process is the same as for SOTD but with a different team of judges. It’s more complicated because we have to make sure we have judges with many different devices but things are going great so far.
ABOUT WHAT’S IN THE FUTURE:
Damn: What’s your opinion about the mobile-age? It looks like everything go with smart phone and tablets PC. And the more important question is, as renowned observer and authoritative awarding organization in this industry, what will be the hotspot right next mobile? And why?
FWA: I think the certain thing is that people want information, fun etc without having to walk and sit at a PC. This is why mobile is so successful. People like me will always have a PC as some of the large applications I use would be a bit tricky to use over smaller screens. But, for the majority, I can see tablets taking over from desktop computers and an entire generation not even knowing or using a PC.
Mobile is still like a baby and lots of people go mad for apps when they get their first smartphone, much like those of us who grew up with the internet in the 1990s went crazy for free demos and screensavers. J
The reality is though that apps are a bit of a fad really as you soon realize that out of the one hundred apps you downloaded within 2 months of having a smartphone, you only actually need less than 10 of them.
I think eventually, all mobile apps will have to be generic across all devices or they will die a death and everyone will create mobile websites which they can be sure will work across all devices.
I also wonder about the future of social media. Again, everyone jumps with excitement but in the long term, does it have as much value as Facebook lovers think? I am not convinced. Content will always be king and if brands and people focus too much on one website, like Facebook, one day something will definitely take over from it and lots of brands will be left wondering why they didn’t focus on their own ideas, their own goals and their own websites, rather than dropping everything to have a Facebook page.
Damn: Reveal us a little bit of FWA’s further plan, what’s the fascinating you will show us next few months? And why FWA will do this?
FWA: As mentioned above, FWAwebTV version 2 is coming soon. There is also a new book on mobile coming out any day now: The App and Mobile Case Study Book (http://amzn.com/3836528800).
We are also coming up to the end of the year and will be starting to judge for FWA Site of the Year 2011 and also the People’s Choice Award 2011. This is always very exciting as we look at the 12 site of the month winners (http://www.thefwa.com/sotm) and judge them for the awards.
I am always talking to other brands about ways of working together to make creative work get more exposure so stay tuned for the next FWA project which is never far away from realization.
Damn: FWA charges fee for every submission in several review sections, but today you also sell banner rotation ads, which had never been done in such years. Why does FWA make such a “traditional” business now?
FWA: I founded FWA in May 2000 and for six years I worked on the project with no funding and no income. I had to finance the project and my life at that time from my personal savings. It also got to the stage, with free submissions, that I could be getting between 50 and 200 submissions every day! This meant that I spent almost all of my waking life clicking on links! It was amazing to see the type of sites people would submit when it was free entry. It reached the stage when I couldn’t cope any more so I had to introduce the submission fee. Not only did it provide financial support for the project but it also cut down the number of submissions to a sensible level and it also meant that we only got good designs being submitted.
Advertising has been on FWA since 2006 as well. There was high demand from agencies and companies to advertise the site as they were aware of the global reach of the website. In fact thefwa.com has served over 140 million site visits. So, advertising has been on FWA for 5 years now. Same with jobs, lots of agencies wanted to advertise so we introduced the job load for them. Again, you have to charge for postings or you get swamped with adverts and some of them may not even be genuine. Charging a premium ensures that advertisers are of good and reputable quality.
In summary, FWA now has to operate as a traditional business. That’s for legal reasons as well.
Damn: FWA also offers job vacancy advertising service for many agencies and advertisers, but you just simply put hiring information on FWA and let job seekers contact with recruiters their own. Does it work pretty well? Does FWA have any further plan for this affair?
FWA: Yes, we allow agencies to advertise directly to our audience. Being such a small team, it would not be possible to do this any other way. With larger resources we could look at setting up portfolio systems but I don’t feel that would add much to the way the job board works. We have had companies of all sizes sourcing staff from our site, including the likes of Apple and Adobe and games giants like EA. I also know that over the years acquisition scouts often source interactive agencies by looking at the winners on our site.
ABOUT ROB FORD, FOUNDER OF THE FWA:
Damn: Rob, as the founder of FWA, we are interested in knowing more about you personally with FWA business. What did you do before you started FWA? What is your background? How did you get started in the field of creative web design?
FWA: This is the fun part of the interview where I get to embarrass myself. J I left school will minimal qualifications. I didn’t go to university or get a degree. I never enjoyed school, I always fought against the establishment that made me have to go to school. When I look back now, I can see how I ended up starting my own business as I always struggled to be happy working for a company and following the rules. When I left school I worked for a bank and made good progress. When I was interviewed for that job I had to sit a number of tests, they were logic and mathematical style tests. Apparently, I scored the highest they ever had.
From the bank I went to work for American Express and from there I went on to sell cars (Audi, VW and then Vauxhall). In my mid twenties. I had realized I was getting very bored with work and decided to just take a break and do some mundane jobs, including hay bailing during the summer (the hardest and most physical work ever!). I also enjoyed a few years of going to raves in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This totally opened my mind to a new and creative world.
It was in the mid to late 90s that I started to get more intrigued by the internet. I was always into gaming on my Vic 20 and Amiga 500 and with a Windows PC and the internet, I started to download free game demos like crazy. I then wanted to have my own website and learnt how to program HTML. This is where it all started for me and when Flash 3 came out I was hooked and then started a small web design agency called treecity. I was making small Flash sites for companies and my own agency site was nominated for a top UK web award. It was from here that I realized the amazing buzz awards gave to people. I then got involved in judging for some other internet awards and noticed how they spend way too much time showing off how great they were and not showcasing the amazing work they awarded. It was here, back in May of 2000 that I decided to set up FWA and to showcase the great sites that were going crazy in the Flash world at that time. FWA has grown from there and now showcases a huge breadth of content.
Damn: What in your opinion that made FWA wined against all other competitors at that time and made it to be the leading one in creative web design field today?
FWA: For me, I always think of FWA like I do the BBC. The first, the originator and the project so many people have tried to copy and emulate. For ten years I worked every day on FWA and never had a single day off, not even when I was ill. I remember having food poisoning once and a temperature of 102.9 but I still crawled into my home office and updated the site. It was that level of dedication and my passion for showcasing other people’s amazing work that I always knew would be hard to rival. Working for 6 years and not getting paid shows a level of dedication or madness alone. J
Over the years I have seen so many new award sites come and go. So many of them have stolen FWA’s ideas and content and then tried to position themselves as being better than FWA. All I know is that every new addition and all growth of FWA has been organic, it has come from my own mind and not from someone else’s work.
To be one of the industry leaders, you must have the highest ethics and always maintain and neutral stance. Even though I have a huge network of people I have grown to know over the last 11+ years, from all of the top agencies all over the world, when they submit their work, it is treated the same as everyone else. We have sometimes been accused of being paid to award websites when some people have seen a site we awarded that they didn’t like. This really upsets me when I read such emails as it has never happened and will never happen. In FWA’s 11+ year history, only once has a company offered to buy an FWA award. That resulted in an instant email reply stating our revulsion at the idea and how it would absolutely never be allowed. No amount of money could buy anyone an FWA award, it’s purely down to making exciting and creative work. A simple idea, well executed is all it can take to win an FWA. You don’t need a big budget at all!
Damn: What is your hobby besides work? And would you please list 3 of your favorite sites? (Except FWA)
FWA: I have struggled to find a hobby in recent years as I have been so devoted to FWA. My wife keeps telling me that I must find something to unwind from FWA with. I always wanted to be a DJ or music Producer so maybe one day I will get back into that. The only problem is that I am now in my 40s and I could be like an old granddad DJing at some event. J
I do enjoy gardening and this is how I started with the company name treecity as I had a passion for bonsai and trees. At one time I had over 500 small trees in 3 inch pots that I had grown from seed. Maybe I will start growing trees again.
Having devoted all of my 30s and now my early 40s to FWA, I really have realized that there is more to life than the internet and I am now taking at least 2/3 holidays per year. My long term plan is to retire from the day to day running of FWA and just maintain a creative and advisory role. It makes sense to have some younger blood pushing FWA into the future.
Oh… 3 of my favourite sites?!
- I’m going to say: http://ukbassradio.com/ for keeping me young and for helping me through those long copy/paste sessions as I stream from their site frequently. Love my drum n bass!
- Twitter. Totally addicted to it. Follow me @fwa
- This year, http://www.thathipster.com/ has been one of my favourites. Great gameplay but even better ideas behind it.
Damn: DamnDigital once did a work archive of Chinese wining-awards works on FWA, and while doing this we found out that most of works came from several designers and the “commercial ads” are few. What do you think about this, and do you have any suggestions to Chinese adman?
FWA: I think that we really need to get more work from China up on FWA. Maybe this interview will help to encourage individuals and agencies to submit their work. We are extremely keen to represent China’s creative industry to the world but we can only do that if people submit their work. China is one of the most exiting countries in the world and we would love to see more work from China on FWA. It would also be great to have at least one person from China on our judging team at FWA so if anyone is up for the job and, even better, has won an FWA, they can contact me via the FWA website, would love to hear from you all!
Most works on FWA from China has been created by individuals. I think this shows how individuals get technology and the internet a lot quicker than the big ad agencies. It’s always individuals that make big strides in the world. It’s always individuals that create new things. It’s never the big companies that innovate, always individuals. Think of the person who invented the wheel, not a big company. J
When you work alone it is easy to create whatever you want. Once you become well known, which can happen very quickly on the internet, you can soon get big offers from big companies. It’s then that we see the innovation start to slow down as those creatives then have to abide by the laws and rules of the big agencies. However, this is also when we see big agencies start to push out better quality work.
I guess the answer is the same… as an individual you should push the boundaries as much as possible. Be experimental in your work and personal portfolios. Make stuff work and then break the code and look for interesting results. This will get you noticed by bigger companies and all over the world if we get the chance to showcase you on FWA. It’s then that we might see better work from the bigger ad men.
To get noticed on the web, make something, break something and then mould it to perfection!
Damn: If you and FWA have anything wishes us and to know, please feel free to write down and we will very happy to translate and press them.
FWA: I would really like to emphasise that we want to showcase more work from China on FWA. So, please consider submitting your work to us, we showcase a massive range of work these days as can be seen here: http://www.thefwa.com/about/work_we_award. We also welcome work that does not have an English version so never be afraid to submit a Chinese only site. We will focus on the design primarily.
If any of your readers would like to know more about FWA or get involved in any way, just get in touch and I’ll respond personally.We also have a great wallpaper section, which is a good chance for people to submit a wallpaper for potential showcase on our site: http://www.thefwa.com/wallpaperWe also have an article section, a great chance to write an article on the web community in China is someone wants to take this on.If I can just finish with some interesting links for your readers:
Here’s a selection of some of the most creative FWA award winners:
Here’s a selection of FWA Award Certificates displayed by our winners (one here from 30ml, Shanghai, China as well):
Here’s FWA touching 24 of the World’s top 100 brands:
That’s all for now! Huge thanks for giving me a voice to your readers, I’ve really enjoyed it, thanks again!