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Aussie Webby Awards winner offers tips to online start-ups

Wednesday, 2 May 2012 | By Michelle Hammond

Australian Christian youth website Fervr.net has won the religion and spirituality category at this year’s Webby Awards, while Freelancer.com and Huaweimobile.com.au were also recognised.

 

The Webby Awards are considered a leading international award ceremony, honouring excellence on the internet, covering interactive advertising, online video and mobile apps.

 

Held in New York, the awards are presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, which nominates and selects the award winners.

This year’s award winners were announced yesterday. Of the eight Australian websites nominated, three won awards.

 

In addition to Fervr, crowdsourcing marketplace Freelancer was named People’s Voice in the employment category, while Huawei Mobiles took the title in the telecommunications category.

 

Based in Sydney, Fervr offers Christian youth articles, daily devotions, reviews and videos. The website also has an online store that sells books specifically for young Christians.

 

Fervr digital producer Kitty Fung says, in some ways, the Fervr team will “continue doing what we’ve always done because obviously it’s working”.

 

“On another level, we’re hoping the Australian media will be proud that a little site made it big, and that this will raise the profile of the digital industry as a whole,” Fung says.

 

“It shows Australian websites can compete on the global stage in this sector.”

 

According to Fung, the judging criteria included visual design, accessibility, content, usability and “a handful of other things”.

 

“When you look at the other news sites, I think we embody what the Webbys are about – openness and making things accessible,” she says.

 

“When you look at the other religious news sites, they’re often produced by an old school, traditional media company… With us, the site is kind of a bit more indie.”

 

“The contributions are written by volunteers and they’re written in a way that’s accessible to digital natives. We’re dragging the category into the next generation – maybe that’s what made us stand out.”

 

Fung’s advice to other online entrepreneurs is to always put the user first, and remember that size doesn’t matter. However, she says you “need to be data-driven about everything you do”.

 

“Use that [data] to drive all your decisions,” she says.

 

“If you’re small, you have nothing else to go by [other than your data] so I think Australian online entrepreneurs tend to be quite street smart.”

 

“It’s not about being overwhelmed or paralysed by data but combining that with what you know about your audience, and using that to make decisions.”

 

According to Fung, sometimes a lack of knowledge is a good thing.

 

“It gives you the courage to take risks and make decisions which people might think are silly and completely outrageous, but I think that’s what drives innovation.”