Impact Awards for Canadian Web sites expands for 2012

Mobile Web sites, games and applications are now eligible to be entered in the Canadian Internet Registration Authority’s (CIRA) annual Impact Awards dot-ca Web site competition.

The dot-ca domain name registration body expects entries to the contest, which is now in its second year, will increase with the recent tweak, according to a spokesperson for CIRA. In 2011, CIRA received 686 entries. The entry period for the 2012 .CA Impact Awards begins on January 9, 2012. Click here to register.

Last year the contest, which gives away a total of $20,000 to winning Web sites, had the following categories:

Public sector and not-for-profit – This category acknowledges a government, non-government organization or association whose Web site or application is making a difference in the lives of members, donors, and the public.

eLearning – This category covers youth and educators who use their dot-ca Web site to share knowledge and promote education

Small business – This category celebrates a company with fewer than 100 employees whose Web site or application has helped the business contribute to its community, foster sales or create jobs

Web technology and design – This category focused on the creative use of technology and the overall design of a dot-ca Web site

A prize of $5,000 is awarded to winners of each category. For the 2012 .CA Impact Awards, the Web technology and design category was replaced by a category simply named Applications.

The CIRA Web site says the new category honours “a company whose mobile Web site, application or game has made an impact.”

“The change was prompted by the feedback we received after our first contest,” said Tanya O’ Callahan, communications manager for CIRA. “We realized that the industry is rapidly moving into these areas and that there are a growing number of dot-ca small companies working in these fields.”

Making an impact

O’Callahan said the Web Technology and Design category also shifts the focus away from aesthetics to the practical applications of a Web site. “A winning Web site doesn’t need to be beautiful. We are judging the usefulness and helpfulness of the site for the users.”

For example she said, which won in the Technology and Design category last year, was not just another pretty web site.

The online apartment hunting portal created by a Montreal-based startup that aggregates data from sites such as Craigslist and Kijiji, now provides a fast way for users across the country to find an apartment based on their location and specified price range.

“The site was borne out of the designers’ own frustration over finding an apartment in Montreal. Today NewPad is making an impact on the lives of Canadians all over the country,” said O’ Callahan.

Impact of the Impact Awards

Winning the competition last year made a big difference for, a site that was set-up to protect the open Internet and promote innovation and free speech on the Web.

Bagging the award in the Small Business category provided OpenMedia a lot of exposure, but the site came home with much more than that and the $5,000 reward, said Steve Anderson, executive director of OpenMedia.

“The best part was being able to go to our supporters—the 500,000-strong pro-Internet community, our dedicated interns and volunteers, and our highly-engaged Digital Action Team—to tell them that their work had been recognized and celebrated,” said Anderson.

Since last year, the site has taken on several new projects. These activities include:

  • Publication of a comprehensive report on Internet openness, available in digital form at
  • Launch of a new campaign in opposition to the government’s proposed Lawful Access bills at,
  • A citizen-made viral video for the Stop Online Spying campaign (
  • Allocation of space for the Canadian Gamers Organization to fight for online choice (, as an extension of our ongoing campaign for Internet openness (
  • A campaign in response to the landmark decision on Internet metering, which asks Canadians to make the switch from Big Telecom (
  • Preparing a tool at that lets Canadians write letters to the editors of their local papers, as well as a mobile version of their Web site at

How to make your site make have impact
Anderson said although OpenMedia is an incredibly small organization, he is “consistently amazed at what Canadians can do when we pull together.”

He believes other small organizations can achieve the same, if not greater results through creative and wise use of meager resources.

For businesses and organizations that want their Web sites to make a difference, Anderson has the following tips:

    1. Your Web site can meet peoples’ needs: Many of our campaigns have come into being because our community of supporters identified a problem that they wanted us to address
    2. Your Web site can educate: Whether it’s about a social issue, the news of the day, or anything else, your Web site is a space to educate Canadians using a variety of applications or content
    3. Your Web site can empower: By simply filling out a petition, over half-a-million Canadians backed a message that became a record-breaker and a game-changer for Internet affordability in Canada. The Stop The Meter campaign brought people together, knowing they had strength in numbers, to create real change
    4. Your Web site can help you interact: Allow comments, integrate your Web site with social media, ask for email feedback—your visitors want to know you and to know each other, and you want to know them
    5. Your Web site can help …your Web site: In our experience, Canadians are helpful people with diverse skills, who want to do good things. We ask our volunteers and interns for help with everything, from messaging to design to programming, and boy do they ever deliver
Nestor ArellanoNestor Arellano is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter, read his blog, and join the IT Business Facebook Page.

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