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Best of the West

Text by John Lampard

You have to wonder what those web designers in Western Australia are up to. Having seen their networking forum, Port 80, go from strength to strength locally, they decided to bring the idea east, and have so far hosted events in Canberra, Melbourne, and Sydney.

That’s not the end of it though. Another Port 80 initiative, the West Australian Web Awards (WAWAs), has also been a runaway success, and now there is talk of spreading that concept through the rest of Australia as well.

So what’s on the agenda here? World domination?

But while that remains to be seen, the WAWAs organisers are probably more concerned that all will be well on the night, over any empire building aspirations.

WAWAs night 2006
WAWAs night 2006

To say arranging the awards evening is simply a matter of booking a venue and posting out some invitations, is an understatement to say the least, as Myles Eftos, chairperson of the WAWAs organising committee, explains.

“This year’s awards were nearly nine months in the making. There are many months of chasing sponsors, organising the venue, updating the website, monthly meetings, plus keeping up-to-date with the committee’s extremely high traffic mailing list.”

The WAWAs were first held in 2005, and those attending this year’s event, on 18 August, were treated to an evening of wining and dining, at Perth’s Parmelia Hilton.

WAWAs night 2006
WAWAs night 2006

The final days leading up the event are, needless to say, the most frantic as final touches and last minute changes are made, and seating arrangements finalised. For the organising committee, trying to juggle their regular work commitments, with last minute planning for the awards, can be somewhat tricky.

“Taking into account that the ten committee members are all volunteers who work full time, many in companies they own, trying to handle all of the communication involved in the last couple of weeks, whilst still remaining productive at work, is the biggest challenge,” says Myles, who is also development team leader at Perth’s Bam Creative.

“But it’s all worthwhile the minute the MC steps on stage and introduces the night. To see a room full of the best WA has to offer the web is a buzz.”

Judges evaluated almost 150 entries, and wide ranging nominations included blogs, small business and e-commerce sites, and on-line applications. And among work of a high calibre, some very positive trends, and work practices, are beginning to emerge, says Myles.

WAWAs organising committee - 2006
WAWAs organising committee 2006

“The WA industry is a talented bunch; the sites that are coming out are beautifully designed. There has been a strong push for standards compliance and accessible websites, which is great to see. The benchmark of what is being produced is extremely high.”

The awards are the result of a long held desire to showcase the work of the WA web industry, says Port 80 founder and Bam Creative director, Miles Burke.

“The establishment of the WAWAs has often be a dream of both myself and a number of other committee members to display to both local industries, and Australia wide, that just because we are geographically isolated form the rest of Australia, doesn’t mean we don’t have talent and high quality and standards in our work.”

“The WAWAs have been a showcase of the excellent work that have come out of WA based firms in the last two years, and we’re excited to see that continue into the future,” he says.