Congratulating the Winners
Three NGOs each walked away with R10,000 worth of prizes in the South African NGO Website Awards 2007. The prizes were sponsored by Torque-IT. The winners were announced at the gala dinner at the SANGONeT Conference and Exhibition on 17 July 2007.
Introduced for the first time in 2006, the awards seek to recognise NGOs whose websites meet the criteria set by the judging panel of experts from the NGO and ICT sectors.
Speaking at the event, David Barnard, SANGONeT Executive Director, explained that, “Our judges are all specialists in their fields, representing donors, communications experts and online communication specialists.”
The following individuals presided on the panel
Maggie Vester: Vester is a webmaster for the MWA’s website and also runs her own consultancy, WWWSolutions, which specialises in training to medium sized businesses and NPOs to establish their own affordable websites and use them effectively for marketing.
Samantha Flemming: Flemming is the e-Communications manager of the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (IDASA), one of the winners of the inaugural NGO Web Awards in 2006. Under Flemming’s leadership, IDASA has one of the most sophisticated non-profit communications programmes in the country, which ensures that the organisation is widely recognised and acknowledged.
Jon Campbell: Campbell is the director of the Hivos South Africa Programme. Campbell has extensive experience in the field of grant making and media communications.
The judges were faced with a very difficult task of going through 46 entries and ensuring that the right NGO websites were selected into the top three positions. They had to ensure that in their selection they did not miss a single detail in any of the websites submitted.
To help assist the judges in their selection process, SANGONeT developed the following judging criteria to determine the effectiveness of the website as an online tool:
Objectives of the website: What is the communication objective of the website?
Marketing: How does the website capture the attention of the first time visitor?
Relationship Building: How does the website retain the attention of the return visitor?
Aesthetics: This is a subjective criterion, however, an important one as it often determines whether visitors stay on a site or move on.
Accessibility: There are two important dimensions to this. Firstly, is the language accessible? Second, does the website pass the basic accessibility tests for reaching people with disabilities?
Tone: What is the tone of the language on the website?
The 2007 winners
The three winning NGO websites were chosen on the strength of their online communication outreach to targeted audiences instead of a simple assessment of the technical and design features of their websites.
While handing out the prizes to the three NGO representatives, Barnard explained that all the winning websites contained a wealth of information about the respective issues that the organisations engage with. He commended the organisations, saying that, “SANGONeT received a total of 46 entries from various NGOs across the country and three NGOs were chosen from the top 10 ten entries”.
The site was chosen because it has a dynamic look and feel about it. It was commended by the judges for its ability to communicate the complex development issue of democracy and community development, despite the limitations of the web platform.
Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa
A fairly sophisticated site with various language options for visitors, the FTTSA website was chosen for its easy navigability, aesthetic appeal and wealth of information not only about fair trade hotels and resorts, but also about the concept and principles of fair trade. In other words, the site is able to communicate the objectives of the organisation very effectively.
This website was chosen for its bright and cheery, as well as contemporary look. This is an engaging website, which scored highly on the marketing and relationship building criteria. The call to action on this website is extremely clear. Visitors to this website are immediately aware that the organisation can be supported through individual donations and the facility to make an online donation is easily accessible to the web visitor.
Useful tips for NGOs
As usual, SANGONeT suggests that NGOs who lack the necessary funds and expertise for the development of their websites, should take a look at creating a website or blog using free (non-technical) online tools such as Google's new Page Creator and Blogger.
For those of you wanting to prepare for next year's round of SANGONeT web awards, why not also visit the ICT section of the NGO Management Toolkit for more tips and ideas on how to design and maintain your website?
- To find out more about the conference proceedings, please click here.
- Butjwana Seokoma, Information Services Coordinator, SANGONeT.