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Pseudo-Award Winning Blah Blah Phoney

This morning I ran across a Sydney based web designer’s business website and I saw a link in a prominent position (top right corner) that read – ‘I also win awards!’

Web Awards are an Industry Recognition of Best Practice

The interesting part about that link is the key ‘call to action’ that it implied in my mind as a customer sitting on the fence – the claim that awards had been won created a beautiful marketing hook. After all, branding is about perception in the mind of the market and the link dramatically moved ‘attractive site’ way up to ‘professionally attractive site’ on my busines radar.

Only (and I won’t name names or flame anybody over this) there were no awards. The list under a title heading of ‘Awards & Honourable Mentions’ – One Page Love, Colorgorize, CSS Loggia, Twitter, Design Fridge and Reddit. Not one of those are an award of any kind. And Twitter? Reddit? In reality most are user submitted galleries that showcase web designs and are run by independent people who have a priority to pump as many decent web designs across their homepage as possible to attract advertising revenue.

Real awards and honourable mentions would be handed out from the Australian Web Awards or similar calibre State or National associations that come together within the industry to assert the best work on a number of levels – including design aesthetic, business effectiveness and technical excellence.

Ethical Concerns with the Misdirecting Claim to Awards

My ethical concern about the claim – ‘I also win awards!’ – on that web designer’s site is that it is untrue. And by being untrue it denies a fundamental right of clients and customers.

The false claim of accolades denies other people their right to autonomy: to make a business decision based on the facts.

Pose the question this way. Would it be alright for all web designers to always lie about winning awards to gain customers? No. If all web designers always lied about winning awards then all awards would be devalued, all customers would be lied to and all businesses who should have achieved the work did not do so because somebody lied to the customer.

Or pose the question another way. Would it be alright if all web designers always denied everybody else their ability to make sound business decisions? No. As a maxim it doesn’t fly. If it’s not alright for everybody to do something then it’s not ethically alright for anybody to do it.The average business person isn’t aware of the nature or drivers behind web design gallery sites. So when they make their critical (and often very expensive) decision to hire this guy as a freelance service provider they can be heavily swayed into believing at face value that this person has indeed won industry awards for his work. It’s that misrepresentation that moves such a link from mere marketing ‘spin’ into an ethical issue.

That link should read ‘featured on web design galleries and Twitter’. I am not sure where this would register with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission… is it deceptive? Web designers still have to operate within the bounds of legal precedent and legislation – be ye warned.

To be fair, I don’t know the designer. The problem may well be that the link was hastily added and the web designer had no intention to deceive. Nevertheless, it’s a caution we should all consider when marketing our services.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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