April 9-12, 2008
Montréal, Québec, Canada

Best of the Web: Categories

Recognizing achievement in heritage Web site design, a committee of museum professionals selects the Best of the Web each year.

Congratulations to the winners!

See the winners of the people's choice.

See the list of sites nominated.

The Best of the Web judges will consider Web sites nominated in the following categories:

Be sure to review the category definitions carefully before suggesting a site, as sites do much better when they are considered in the right context.

See the list of sites nominated.


The judges will all use the same set of Guidelines and Evaluation Criteria when reviewing nominated sites.


Best Exhibition

These sites excel in presenting and interpreting museum collections and themes, providing a rich and meaningful virtual experience. They may be a section of a larger museum Web or be a collaborative project between institutions and/or individuals and communities associated with museums.

Entirely virtual museums are eligible to participate in this category as are exhibitions of Web art and other "born digital" collections. Quality characteristics include:

  • Effective use of multiple media formats
  • Innovative ways of complementing physical exhibitions or providing surrogates for physical experiences in on-line only exhibitions
  • New ways of representing museum processes and structures
  • Imaginative audience participation and engagement of different categories of 'visitors'

See the list of sites nominated.

Best Educational Site

These sites teach a specific audience on a particular subject. They present material in an effective and relevant manner, provided depth of content. Educational sites may be sites designed by and for children. (This category does not include search engines and on-line databases intended for research which are judged in the category for Best Research Site). Quality characteristics included:

  • Presentation of supplementary material for schools and teachers, and support for collaborative spaces for teachers to work together
  • Presentation of supplementary materials for students of any age, and provision of collaborative work spaces for students
  • Interaction between museum staff and students, teachers, or educational groups of any level
  • Integration of experiences of 'real' visits to museum and the educational Web site
  • Provision of non-curriculum-based learning experiences and support of lifelong learning activities
  • Easily identifiable target audience and clear pedagogical strategy

See the list of sites nominated.

Best Museum Professional's Site

These sites serve museum professionals and their specific requirements, such as administration, exhibitions, education, public relations, registration, collections management, or development. They may be reference resources that are employed in professional work and study, including reports of conferences, pre-publications, reviews and technical literature. They may also include multi-site indexes and finding aids that collocate resources critical to the professional community. (This category does not include search engines and on-line databases intended for research; see Research Site for these).

Quality characteristics include:

  • Support for the distributed activity of a consortium or group of museum partners in ongoing collaborations
  • Contribution to their institution or to the museum profession as a whole
  • Mechanisms for fostering innovative projects that help in the development of electronic media in museums
  • Providing valuable on-line forums and discussions for museum professionals
  • Providing software, guidelines, templates and packages for museum professionals

See the list of sites nominated.

Best Research Site

These sites support research on museum collections and provide excellent resources for researchers from any discipline. They are primarily on-line databases and search engines that provide detailed information for individuals and/or groups. Quality characteristics include:

  • Ease of use for both experienced and novice researchers
  • Accuracy and depth of content
  • Consistency of material
  • Currency of links and updates
  • Extensive links and references to other related resources and sites

See the list of sites nominated.

Best On-line Community, or Service Site

These sites improve communication between museums and their audiences, and among members of a museum's community. They may also provide on-line services. They may be a section of a larger museum Web site and may include aspects such as an on-line community, user contributed content, tagging, memberships, personalization, or e-commerce. Quality characteristics include:

  • Effective ways of using on-line communication and interaction, including user discussions, user contributed content, creating a personal on-line image gallery, or an on-line community
  • Robust participation and active creation of user-contributed content.
  • Innovative approach to e-service activities, including gift shop items, images, memberships, event tickets, on-line registration for programs and events, fund raising activities, philanthropy, corporate sponsorships, and planned giving

See the list of sites nominated.

Best Podcast (Audio/Visual)

These applications make use of the podcast format to move museum content out of the institution, into the realm of the user. Quality characteristics include:

  • Original and appropriate content
  • Evocative use of the podcast format
  • Use of video, still or moving images, where appropriate
  • Links between on-line and on-site activites where appropriate

See the list of sites nominated.

Best Innovative or Experimental Application

These sites make innovative use of Web technology to provide new and creative content or services. They are judged less on the technical expertise they demonstrate than on their originality and potential for development. Quality characteristics include:

  • Introduction of new technology to museum Web sites
  • Creative uses of older existing technology in new ways
  • Uses of technology that offer new possibilities for further development

See the list of sites nominated.

Best Small Museum Site

Judges may make a separate award in each category for small museums/budgets, to explicitly recognise work from smaller institutions. These sites have been:

  • Created in-house or with volunteer effort
  • Mounted by small institutions (with 5 for fewer professional staff)
  • Created with very limited budgets (sometimes no budget)

If you feel a site merits consideration as being from a small museum, please explain why in your nomination.

See the list of sites nominated.

Best Overall Museum Web Site

Together, the Judges pick their "Best of the Web". This award recognizes the outstanding nature of a site and its overall contribution to the institution, museum profession, and museum and archives informatics community. Quality of content, ease of use, accessibility and stability are all considered.

You cannot nominate a site for Best Overall Web site. This choice is made by the Judges from the sites nominated.

See the list of sites nominated.