Website Awards

Best Websites, Apps & Blogs of Note

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Fri, Aug 19, 2011 @ 02:21 PM

Once a month in this space we bring to your attention several apps, web sites and blogs that we think will help to make your work day a bit more productive and enjoyable.  Here are this month's recommendations.

This Is My Next: A temporary home for former Engadget writers who are launching a new online publication in September.

DeepMarket: Up-to-the-minute information on U.S. stock markets.

American Express Open App Center: American Express® OPEN, winner of multiple Stevie Awards in The 2011 American Business Awards, has created App Center specifically with businesses in mind. It offers digital tools that can help you manage cash flow, save time and money, and grow customer relationships.

News360: Created by a small company dedicated to changing the world of news, News360 wants people to be better informed and find things out faster. Available for iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry PlayBook. Free.

Looking for recognition for your app or site?  Learn how to win a Stevie Award for your work - get our free tipsheet now.

Topics: stevie awards, web awards, web award, best websites

5 Best Website Tips From Walmart

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Thu, Jun 16, 2011 @ 11:50 AM

Suraya Bliss is Senior Director of Digital Strategy and Communication at Walmart in Bentonville, Arkansas, and recently chaired the final judging committee for the Creative categories in The 2011 American Business Awards. Here she shares knowledge gained from the creation of one of the largest employee websites in the United States.

Suraya BlissEvery week, in every state in America, 1.4 million associates head to work at Walmart. That’s a lot of people—in fact, nearly 22 percent of the U.S. population knows someone that works at our company. So you can imagine what a challenge it is to connect all these associates with news, information—and even with each other.

In March 2009, Walmart launched, a password-protected social-media site for our U.S. associates to access from their home computers. is the result of careful planning, research, collaboration, and constant content refreshment.  Through its development we have learned a great deal about what makes an internal social-media site successful, and I’m happy to share some of our experiences to help other communicators connect more deeply with their own employees.

Let me start by telling tell you about Then I’ll share a few points about how we got to where we are today.

Initially developed as a website to provide information to associates, has evolved to become much more. Today we use the site to communicate new initiatives; involve associates in company programs and events; gather feedback about operations, marketing, and advocacy; and function as a change-management tool.   At its core, strives to:

- serve as a single destination for associates to get information about the company and access key applications such as work schedules, discounts, benefits enrollment, educational opportunities, and jobs;

- educate associates on issues that impact the company, local stores, and one another (for associates who want to engage in issues, the site provides tools that help them get involved);

- provide insight into opinions and ideas of associates that help the business create and drive more effective initiatives and communication;

- Reduce costs and increase efficiency.

How did our team develop a site that went from zero to over 1.3 million users in 24 months?  Following are some of the key principles.

Start with the End Users’ Wants and Needs
In 2007, we conducted research to find out how best to reach associates using the most effective messages and channels.

Our research identified three themes that best build pride and engagement with associates: family, community, and opportunity.  These three pillars are woven throughout, and have been used to develop an associate communications framework in channels ranging from the company’s magazine, Walmart World, to corporate memos. 

We also asked associates questions about what channels they trusted, and what new communications tools they were interested in using.  We were pleasantly surprised with the results:

- 81% of associates wanted information about the company when not at work, but did not want another corporate information site written from the home office’s perspective;

- 78% were interested in connecting with other associates;

- 79% said they would use social networking tools if they were available.

In the study, associates told us that they wanted to join the conversation and contribute to matters that affected them and the company.  These results led us to develop a digital strategy with heavy emphasis on social-networking functionality.

We knew that it would be a challenge to create a website for associates that would only be available off the clock but that would engage associates enough to keep them coming back. 

To accomplish our goals for the site, the team remained strongly focused on user experience.  The key organizing principles for the site were crisp, intuitive design; user-centric content (giving users what they wanted to receive, not just what we wanted to publish); active content (giving users a lot to do), and prominent placement of associate-generated content.

We continue to ask associates what they want on the site through on-site polls, blogs, and discussion topics.

Think Big (But Be Willing to Start Small)
When we launched in March 2009, was a modest site with little social-networking functionality.   We had basic content, profile creation, and chats.  Although we knew we wanted to do more, we were concerned that taking an all-or-nothing approach would leave us with nothing.  As the comfort level grew with social networking and user-generated content, however, so did the associates’ use of 

Once the site was proven it was time to get bigger.  To grow we needed traffic, and to get traffic we needed a hook.  Fortunately we had a strong partnership with our benefits team, who were looking to update their website.  We gained traffic, they gained new functionality, and our associates were one step closer to a single source for content.

We worked with the benefits team to add popular applications such as online pay stub and special discounts to the mywalmart site.  Together we increased our traffic from 100,000 to 600,000 users.  Within weeks we had requests from other business units to integrate into, the associate apparel shop; associate volunteer and charitable-giving programs; sustainability programs; and other initiatives are all now integrated into the site. 

More recently, in partnership with our operations team, we rolled out online schedules for our associates.  Operations needed a channel with high traffic—and with over 900,000 associates by that time visiting our site every two weeks, fit the bill.  Once again, partnership proved to be a win-win situation.  Since we started displaying schedules on, our repeat traffic has grown from 78% of the user base visiting the site every two weeks to 85% returning every week.  Currently there are 1,330,215 registered users.

Whoever Aggregates Best Wins
We understand how precious time is for our associates. We didn’t want them to have to choose between and other social sites; so, rather than considering Facebook and Twitter competition, we looked at them as an opportunity.

Recently, we developed a widget that brings content from our company’s Facebook and Twitter pages right onto Associates can now comment and share stories on these other sites without ever leaving

We continue to identify content and sites that are relevant to associates and present them on  With each such addition, becomes more and more of a true “one-stop shop.”

Make It Easy to Contribute
A lean corporate team oversees all aspects of   As the site has evolved and more users visit the site more frequently, the demand for fresh content has grown and we increasingly rely on business units to provide material.

Rather than developing and publishing everything ourselves, we have created a content-management system that allows approved users to create and publish their own content.  To help coordinate our communications efforts, every two weeks we meet with key stakeholders—including corporate communications, marketing, global associate communications, and others—to develop a publication calendar. 

This structure provides coordinated content for as well as for other corporate communication channels. 

Keep it Relevant
Keeping content and functionality relevant and customized to associates’ needs is key.  Our communications strategy is grounded in presenting user-generated content first, then providing context with company facts and information for support and reference. This approach is apparent from the very first view of our homepage. Associate-authored blogs, forums, and videos send a clear message that the site is first and foremost about the associate.

Throughout the site we continue to provide significant space for associates to focus on their perspectives about the company’s culture and activities and to share their stories.  Once we address associates’ interests and concerns with content, we are then able to effectively ladder the messages up, moving the content focus from local to national to global.

As continues to evolve, we are working to position content so that it resonates even more with associates.  We’ve started customizing content based on geography and job codes as appropriate.

We are also creating communities on the site that cater to different interests and demographics, such as communities for volunteers, military families, diversity groups, and others.

Looking to the Future recently celebrated its second anniversary and is helping connect associates from New Hampshire to Hawaii.

The site continues to evolve and we are looking to bring to our international associates in the near future. In the meantime, we learn more each day: what motivates our associates, what they need from our company, and what else we can do to engage them.

About Suraya Bliss
Suraya Bliss followed an unusual path to her role as Senior Director of Digital Strategy and Communication for the world’s leading retailer, Walmart.  After graduating from the College of Charleston, South Carolina, with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Bliss worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala, helping subsistence farmers and their families improve their living conditions.  She also earned certification as a Wilderness Education Association Leader on an expedition through the Grand Teton Mountains, and volunteered for the Colorado Forest Service maintaining the Poudre River Trail.

In her first position with Walmart as Director of Internal Communications, Bliss built a new department responsible for strategic internal communications.  In partnership with several departments, Suraya worked to develop the company’s global purpose statement: “Saving people money so they can live better.”

In her current position, Bliss plays a key role in shaping Walmart’s corporate strategy for a presence in the digital world, building community and creating efficiencies through the development of new tools and platforms. Bliss spearheaded the first use of social media for employees through a website——that enables 1.8 million Walmart U.S. associates to connect with the company and each other. The site has won several awards, including a Neilson Norman Best Intranets 2010 and a Stevie Award for Best Design and Interface.  She is currently working to extend the reach of social media to connect employees globally. Bliss has also been a leader in bringing together multiple external digital properties under one platform, significantly improving user experience.

Before joining WalMart, Bliss worked for DaimlerChrysler for six years. Her responsibilities included media relations and strategy development supporting marketing efforts. She managed safety programs and led the team that created and launched “SeatCheck,” an innovative and effective child-safety communications initiative that won a Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Silver Anvil Award; and “Fit for a Kid,” which received a PRSA Award of Excellence.

Bliss’s diverse experience also includes work with Carlson Marketing Group, where she was responsible for on-site event logistics and execution for a diverse client base; The Jewish Community Center (JCC), where she served as a Fitness Director and Program Developer; and the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), where she was an examiner and trainer

About Walmart
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) serves customers and members more than 200 million times per week at 9,029 retail units under 60 different banners in 15 countries. With fiscal year 2011 sales of $419 billion, Walmart employs more than 2 million associates worldwide. Walmart strives to be a leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy, and employment opportunity. Additional information about Walmart can be found by visiting

Topics: suraya bliss, walmart, business awards, website awards, web awards, best websites

Best Websites, Apps, and Blogs of the Week

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Tue, Jun 14, 2011 @ 12:11 PM

Here are this week's best websites, apps, and blogs of note, to make your work life just a little bit easier.

Conversation Agent: Blog from Fast Company's Valeria Maltoni connecting people and ideas.
Dragon Dictation for iPadR: A free app providing accurate voice transcription and the ability to share messages via e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter. Versions also available for BlackBerry and Android.
Dropbox Anywhere: A free app that is the mobile version of this file synchronization program. Available for iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, Android.
gotomypcGoToMyPC for iPad®: An app that enables fast, easy, and secure access to your PC or Mac from any web browser.
Save2PDF for iPad®: A $9.99 app that converts, merges, and creates PDF files on the. Available on Apple products only.

Topics: website awards, web awards, best websites, web site awards

How Web Award-winner adidas miCoach Gets People Up and Running

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Tue, Mar 15, 2011 @ 09:13 AM


The Stevie Award for Best Web Site for a Consumer Product in the website awards categories of The 2010 American Business Awards went to adidas, and was submitted by Isobar North America, Inc.

miCoachSpring is in the air in the northern hemisphere, and with it the need to get in shape, so this award-winning, personal and real-time audible training system is just what aspiring athletes need.

Elite Training for Everyday Runners
What do the world’s elite runners have that the average runner doesn’t?  Aside from genetic gifts and more time to train, the answer is simple: great coaching. If all runners had access to superior training, imagine what they could accomplish.  That’s why adidas set out to build the groundbreaking training system:  adidas miCoach.

Interactive Training System
miCoach is an interactive training system that combines a digital platform with real-time, audible coaching (via physical devices or a mobile app) to motivate and guide users, ensuring optimum training no matter the ultimate goal.

Customized Training Plan
miCoach collects and analyzes personal data and creates a customized training plan based on an individual’s fitness level and goals, while providing real-time feedback during a workout.

Monitoring Progress
At the adidas/miCoach web site runners can set goals, receive personalized plans, monitor their progress over time, and find inspiration—all driven by the latest web technologies and a visually rich interface.

“At adidas, we work with the world’s best coaches and athletes and we wanted to share this knowledge and experience with our consumers to inspire and to help them reach their personal goals,” said Simon Drabble, Director, Interactive Business Unit, adidas.

“miCoach represents a new way of approaching marketing, in which intuitive devices and an intelligent web site are seamlessly combined to create value between brand and consumer,” said Darryl Gehly, President of Isobar US.  “Together with adidas, we have created a very proactive, relevant, and personal connection with each runner’s experience.”

To access the site, go to

The site was created for adidas by communications and creative agency Isobar.  With its U.S. headquarters in Boston, MA and over 2,000 employees worldwide, Isobar combines strategy, creativity, and technology to bring people and brands together in new ways. Through a combination of art and engineering, Isobar helps clients like adidas, Nikon, Procter & Gamble and Reebok deliver brand promises in useful, tangible and relevant ways, driving new levels of engagement between brand and consumer.

Topics: best website, website awards, web awards, adidas, isobar

How a 2010 Web Award Winner Is Raising Funds for Refugees

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Thu, Mar 10, 2011 @ 11:10 AM

Reading Room of London, England won a Stevie Award for Non-profit Web Site of the Year in the web awards categories of The 2010 International Business Awards.

International digital agency Reading Room has offices in the UK, Australia, Singapore, and Dubai.  It aims to achieve business objectives online for its clients by providing services that span the full lifecycle of digital communications, including

  1. Strategic planning, creative, and technical consultancy
  2. Design and development
  3. Digital marketing, social media, and measurement
  4. Usability and accessibility testing
  5. Hosting and management services

Margaret ManningReading Room used these skills to develop the award-winning web site for the non-profit organization Australia for UNHCR, the fundraising arm of the UN Refugee Agency in Australia, which aims to help Australians change the lives of refugees and displaced people around the world.

Established in 1951, the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) provides and coordinates international relief for refugees and displaced people, offering them protection and assistance at every stage of their ordeal. As well as providing emergency shelter, food, water and medical care, UNHCR strives to improve refugees' quality of life and future opportunities. The organization provides infrastructure, schools and income-generating projects in established refugee camps and communities. UNHCR currently cares for more than 36 million people in 126 countries—80% of whom are women and children who have been forced to flee their homes because of conflict, disaster, and persecution.

UNHCR’s goal was to create a profound emotional connection between donors and those in need, extending the life of the relationship by deepening the
understanding of the work UNHCR does.

The striking design of the award-winning Australia for UNHCR web site compels the user to explore further, enriching their experience, and deepening the bond between donor and recipient.

One-off donations reached over A$850,000 within a year of the site going live. In addition, pledges worth more than A$110,000 per year in monthly donations have been made, demonstrating that UNHCR donors are now making a long-term commitment.

Best Interface Design
A 2010 Stevie Award for Best Interface Design also went to Reading Room for their work for the Wellcome Collection, which explores connections between medicine and art.  Wellcome asked Reading Room’s UK team to help bring their collection to life online and place it at the fingertips of a worldwide audience. The team transformed their online presence, resulting in a dramatic rise in visitor numbers online. The result: Visitors are now spending more time investigating and discovering on the site.

Receiving Awards Two Years Running
Margaret Manning, Reading Room CEO, said: “Naturally, we're delighted to win not one, but two of these highly prestigious awards—especially as this is the second year running that we've been successful. At the 2009 IBAs, we won in the Interface Design category for our stunning work for WWF UK, so to go and better that by adding two more coveted Stevies to our name is a credit to the brilliant achievements of our teams in the UK and Australia.”

Want to be honored with a Stevie Award for your websites and blogs as Reading Room was?  Read 10 Tips for Winning Web Awards in the 2011 Stevies, our free tipsheet.

About Margaret Manning
Margaret Manning is CEO and founder of international digital communications consultancy Reading Room. Over the last 15 years, Manning has grown Reading Room into an award-winning consultancy. She has been a visionary in championing the power of the Internet from its birth. As a renowned digital thought leader, Manning is a highly regarded keynote speaker at international events on the future of digital strategy and social media. Her philosophy is to stimulate thinking on the communication benefits of the Internet, focusing on the web as a “channel for business” through the creative use of technology, design, and content, with the challenge for global brands to integrate local, social, and mobile elements.

About Reading Room
Reading Room is an international digital consultancy founded in 1996 and now with 170 staff working from London and Manchester in the UK; from Sydney, Brisbane, and Canberra in Australia; and in Singapore and Dubai. Reading Room clients come from numerous sectors ranging widely in size, including Skoda, Royal Mail, The Fairtrade Foundation, LOVEFiLM, The Glenlivet, and G4S.

Topics: website awards, International business awards, stevie awards, web awards, best websites

Web Awards: 4 Web Sites and Blogs of Note

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Mon, Feb 21, 2011 @ 11:44 AM

The Stevie Awards don't just confer blog awards, web site awards, and such.  We also like to point you to notable blogs and sites that we think might be of interest to you.  Once a month in our Stevie Awards Update email newsletter we summarize "Blogs & Web Sites of Note," and here's what we offered in our February 17 edition. Once a month in this space we'll point you to several business-related blogs and web sites that we think might be of interest to you.

The Daily Beast/Newsweek: With attention focused on the recent AOL/Huffington Post merger, let's not forget another recent media merger of import.

The Daily A daily rundown of the Web's absurdia: see it here first.

The Consumerist: Not just product reviews or consumer complaints but also problem-solving, deals, tips, and news.

ZenHabits: Offering everything from productivity tips to ways to beat writer's block, ZenHabits is about finding simplicity in the daily chaos of our lives.

Topics: website awards, blog awards, web awards, web site awards

Web Awards: 4 Blogs & Web Sites Worth Checking Out

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 @ 12:20 PM

The Stevie Awards don't just confer blog awards, web site awards, and such.  We also like to point you to notable blogs and sites that we think might be of interest to you.  Once a month in our Stevie Awards Update email newsletter we summarize "Blogs & Web Sites of Note," and here's what we offered in our January 28 edition.

Brand You: Thank You Notes: Tom Peters once wrote 30 Rules of Implementation. The first one? Thank you notes. "Recognition, appreciation, nothing gets you further—and it also makes you a better human being." Watch this video from his The Little Big Things Video Series.

eHub: A constantly updated resource of web applications, services and sites with a focus on next generation web (web 2.0) and social software.

StockTwits: A Twitter community for people who are obsessed with stocks. Log on with your Twitter username and password, and view the latest conversations from investors and traders on the stock market.

Fx Twits: A Twitter community centered around finance that's focused on currency pairs. Want to know what’s going on with the American dollar against the euro? FxTwits captures Twitter discussions surrounding the exchange rate.

Topics: best website, website awards, blog awards, web awards, web site awards

10 Tips for Winning Web Awards in the 2011 Stevie Awards

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Thu, Dec 23, 2010 @ 11:09 AM

We've just published a new tipsheet called 10 Tips for Winning Web Awards in the 2011 Stevie AwardsGet it here.

Web Award PresentationIt summarizes the 10 best ways to get recognized for your web site, blog, or creative work in the four Stevie Awards competitions in 2011 (which include The American Business Awards, The International Business Awards, the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, and the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service).  For the most part it recommends the web site and blog awards, interactive multimedia awards, and other categories that web folks should focus on, and outlines the general submission requirements for those categories.

Topics: website awards, web awards, web award, website award, web site awards, web site award Wins Web Award from the Stevie Awards

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Wed, Nov 24, 2010 @ 01:40 PM

Jennifer RotnerElite Editing is a New York–based full-service editorial company, offering proofreading, editing and writing help for businesses, academics and individuals through the website The company earned one of the website awards in the 2010 Stevie Awards for Women in Business, the global competition for women entrepreneurs, executives, and the organizations they run.  Company owner Jennifer Rotner accepted the Stevie at the awards dinner in New York on Friday, November 12 2010.  See her acceptance speech here. allows users to upload documents and pay instantly so that, no matter the deadline, their work will be delivered on time and error-free. The site also functions as an extensive writing resource, offering an invaluable list of articles, links and writing tips that is constantly evolving, with new, original content added daily.

The next opportunities to win web awards and blog awards from the Stevies include the website and blog awards categories of The 2011 American Business Awards, and the web awards categories of The 2011 International Business Awards.


Topics: business awards, website awards, stevie awards, web awards, web award, website award, web site awards, web site award, awards web