April 13-17, 2010
Denver, Colorado, USA

Best of the Web: Categories

Congratulations to the MW2010 Best of the Web Award Winners!

The categories have been revised for MW2010.

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

Each person registered at may nominate one site for a Best of the Web award.

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

Awards will be given in each of the categories above, and in the following general areas:

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.


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



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


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'

Innovative or Experimental

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


Some projects stand the test of time, well. This category will reward a museum that has shown a long-term commitment to an initially excellent on-line initiative, of any kind. It's not a popularity contest, but a chance to celebrate sites that year-over-year continue to be useful and serve their communities. Their longevity embodies the power and effectiveness of sustained engagement.

Quality characteristics include:

  • Continued growth in available resources over time
  • Reliably consistent quality in new content
  • Sustained use by and engagement with site visitors
  • Ongoing museum commitment to long-term site development and use
  • Alignment with the vision and long-term strategy of the sponsoring institution

Museum Professional

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

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 activities where appropriate


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

Social Media

Successful museums use social media to engage with their communities as part of an expanded digital presence beyond the museum's own Web site. The best uses of social media reflect a co-ordinated strategy of continuous user involvement and response, and maintain the museum's diversified voice and identity across platforms. Venues include third-party sites and interactions, and dedicated sections of a museum's own on-line spaces. Activities may include on-line community comments and discussions, user contributed content, tagging, personalization, or other initiatives that bridge on-line and on-site. Quality characteristics include:

  • Effective ways of using on-line communication and interaction,
    including user discussions, contributed and collaborative content,
    personal galleries and collections, or other online communities
  • Robust ongoing participation and dialogue and/or active creation
    of user-contributed content
  • Engaging use of web and other digital platforms for activities
  • Evidence of a long-term coordinated strategy that responds and
    evolves based on user needs and input

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. Small sites should be nominated in the appropriate category.

People's Choice

  • During a pre-defined period, each user registered at may cast one vote for a site to be recognised as the People's Choice.

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.