Sometimes it's an easy decision, sometimes it's more difficult. Occasionally you find a site which on surface looks very good and you spend hours looking it over, comparing it to each part of your criteria. Believe me, it's those last one's that hurt most - site is gorgeous and wonderful, but ... it just does not meet your criteria.
So what should you do? Should I send a note to webmaster to fill him in on what I found that was not correct? Wouldn't he or she want to know? These questions go through my mind every time I look at a site which applies for one of my awards. Should I tell them what's wrong?
NEVER. Let me be fully and completely clear about this - NEVER UNDER ANY CONDITIONS, WHETHER REQUESTED OR NOT, SEND BACK CRITICAL COMMENTS TO ANYONE WHO HAS APPLIED FOR YOUR AWARDS PROGRAM. NEVER. After all, if you apply your criteria to letter it should be obvious why site didn't win award - it didn't meet criteria.
There are lots of reasons not to tell webmasters why they didn't get your award.
There is nothing more devastating to a webmaster than getting back critical comments, especially when those comments are not anticipated. It's one thing to be in a classroom environment and receive feedback, it's entirely a different matter to have a professional webmaster tell you your site is horrible or even that "navigation needs work".
Let's say you do send a quick note which explains, "your navigation was difficult to comprehend." Well, now webmaster has to send you an email back asking "what do you mean?" After this, you might spend next week trying to explain what on earth you meant. Wouldn't it be better to be working on your web site, doing your job or taking your kids to circus? The odds of you winning this discussion are very low.
More often, you'll send note and get back an incredibly hostile response. You have not made a friend.
And even more often, webmaster will not send a note back to you at all. You will never hear from this person again. But unkind words will stick in his mind. He or she will be hurt or unhappy.
Once in a while, your words may discourage what could have been a good webmaster. You may return to site a few weeks later and find it gone ... and you will never know whether it was your comments that did it.