What startup founders and product managers need to know about the top app awards, including the Webbys, TabbysCrunchiesBest Mobile App Awards, and Apple Design Awards

The app market is a highly competitive one  as a result, youll need to get creative with your marketing strategy in order to stand out from the pack.

Winning at a top app awards show is a great way to get instant press (and credibility). If youre confident that youve got a well-designed, highly functional mobile app, check out these five contests where you can get noticed.

Top App Awards: Webbys

Webby Awards

First in our discussion of top app awards is the Webbys. Presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS), the Webby awards famously recognize the bestof the Internet.

In fact, the New York Times once called a Webby the Internets highest honor.” So, if you want to battle with the heavyweights, this is the contest for you.


Within the Webbys Mobile Sites and Appscategory, which “recognizes mobile websites and apps made for all mobile devices,” there are approximately 40 different awards.

These are divided by “app type” (fitness and recreation, music, social, and so on) and features(best streaming audio, best user interface, etc.)

You can enter as many categories as you wish. However, each entry will cost you $150 to $355 depending on the category and submission date. So you may want to limit yourself to those you feel most confident about.

How to Win

Mobile apps are judged on six criteria:

  1. Content: Does it fulfill its purpose and leave users wanting more?
  2. Structure and navigation: Is the app easy to navigate? Is the structure consistent, intuitive, and transparent?
  3. Visual design: Is the design appropriate for the audience and content?
  4. Functionality: This criterion is really important. Does the app load quickly? Does it have few or zero bugs? Does the experience feel frictionless?
  5. Interactivity: Does the app insist that users participate, not spectate?
  6. Overall experience: Do users come back again and again? This measure examines the intangibles that make one stay or leave.

Other Important Info to Know

Early and late entries are typically due in late October and mid-December, respectively.

The Webbys are judged by experts from tech, fashion, music, media, and business, meaning your app should appeal to multiple audiences.

Anatomy of a Winning Entry

In 2015, MailChimp Snap took home the Webby award for “Best Practices” in the Mobile Sites and Apps category.

MailChimp Snap allows users to send simple, photo-based email campaigns from their smart phones. That means a relatively complex task — designing an email campaign on a small screen — becomes nearly effortless.

The app got bonus points for its clean, streamlined UI and how similar it looks and feels to the MailChimp website.

Top App Awards: Tabbys

Tabby Awards

Next up in our examination of top app awards is the Tabbys.

The Tabby awards is the “only global competition for the best tablet-optimized apps,” making it a fantastic one to enter if you want recognition for your iPad or Android tablet app or game.


Consumer apps and games are judged in one contest, while business, productivity, professional, and enterprise apps are judged in another.

Once youve chosen your high-level vertical, the categories become incredibly specific. Think iPad, Kids (up to 5)and Game: Puzzle, Cards, and Family.

You can enter the same app in multiple categories, but each counts as a separate entry. The first entry will set you back $165, with each subsequent entry costing $95.

Sign up here to get notifications for the 2016 contest.

How to Win

Judges evaluate the following aspects of each tablet app:

  1. Value for user
  2. Speed
  3. Concept
  4. Navigation
  5. Design
  6. Innovation
  7. Ease of use
  8. Use of tablet device functions
  9. Performance

Other Important Info to Know

After the judges review all of the entries and choose the Nominees,two parallel judging processes occur. While the expert panel chooses their winners, the public is also invited to vote for the Users’ Choiceawards.

Most of the judges have backgrounds in app and game development and publishing. There are also some journalists, analysts, and expert gamers and app users.

Anatomy of a Winning Entry

In 2015, the FitStar Personal Trainer won the Tabby award for the “Food, Health, and Fitness” category.

The FitStar Personal Trainer is a minimalistic, easy-to-use personalized exercise app, which the judges called beautiful,” “engaging,and very handy.

Since the Tabbys is a tablet competition, the winning apps must in some way be tailored to tablets. The combination of a larger screen and easy mobility make tablets the ideal medium for this kind of video-based fitness app,” explained one judge.

Top App Awards: Crunchies

Crunchies Awards

Unlike the other top app awards on this list, best appis only one trophy up for grabs at the Crunchiesrather than the primary focus.

While that means youll likely face steeper competition in the app category, the fact that this event is hosted by TechCrunch means the winners are all but guaranteed media coverage.

How to Win

The Crunchies have a somewhat complex system for choosing winners. Nominations are tabulated daily and are open to everyone, meaning that in theory you could vote for your company once a day in all 20 categories.

After the nomination period closes, the Crunchies Committee chooses the top five entries in each category based on the quantity, quality, and breadth of submissions received.” This means its pretty important to rally your supporters to vote for you.

If you’re really serious about winning, we suggest hosting a campaign around the Crunchies: throw a nomination partyto publicize your entry, ask your email subscribers to vote for you, post about the contest on social media, etc.

It’s also worth nothing that, since TechCrunch focuses on entrepreneurs and startups, youll have a better chance of winning if your app is somehow disruptive.”

Other Important Info to Know

Nominations traditionally open in November and close in December.

The winners are announced in early February at a splashy awards ceremony typically attended by the who’s who of Silicon Valley.

Anatomy of a Winning Entry

Acorns, which was the “Best Mobile App” runner-up at the 2015 Crunchiesis a highly-innovative financial services app.

Acorns helps users invest their spare change into diversified portfolios of stocks and bonds. For example, if you spend $1.75 on a snack, the app will take the leftover 25 cents and invest it.

By automating the investment process and offering it to users via an easy-to-use app, Acorns is able to tap into the Millennial market.

Top App Awards: Best Mobile App Awards

Best Mobile App Awards

The fourth top app awards contest we’ll examine is the aptly named Best Mobile App Awards.

The organization actually holds several simultaneous best appawards. And with choices like Best Social/Lifestyle Appand Best Business App,youve got a good chance of finding your niche.

How to Win

Every BMAA judge has a unique core competency, which means each one will be looking at different aspects of your app.

However, the organization says theres a general list of criteria, which includes:

  1. Functionality
  2. Creativity
  3. Productivity
  4. Innovativeness
  5. Design
  6. Originality
  7. Usability

Other Important Info to Know

Because the Best Mobile App Awards also functions as a marketing platform, there are two submission options: Silver and Platinum.

Silver (with an entry fee of $100) comes with a spotlight in the organizations newsletter and a lifetime listing as a nominee.

Platinum (with a steeper $150 fee) also includes an interview on the site, a digital display badge, and a spot on the homepage.

Anatomy of a Winning Entry

AireLive took home the Silver Award for Best Social/Lifestyle App in summer 2015.

A social media-based communication platform, AirLive offers the functionality of four apps in one, allowing users to FaceChat, live broadcast, video message, and instant message.

AireLive was also honored for its robustcontent creation toolkit, which includes AireLive Studio, AireCam, and Avatar Maker.

Top App Awards: Apple Design Awards

Apple Design Awards

Each June during its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple announces its top iPhone and Mac applications as part of the Apple Design Awards.

Become one of these top app awards winners, and youll definitely see your download rate soar. (Check out this list to see how past winners have fared one, two, and three years down the line.)

How to Win

Apple doesnt accept nominations for its contestmeaning the best way to be honored is to build an amazing app.

First, Apple looks for apps that are delightful.Yours needs to have personality, whether thats in the form of humor, playful design, sound, or captivating animation.

Winning apps are also “intuitive.” It should be almost as easy for a first-time user to navigate through your app as an experienced one.

Next, the app must be elegant,meaning it reduces the users workload as much as possible, and engaging,meaning it holds the users attention.

Apple also searches for apps that are excitingand compelling” — in other words, apps that expand the capabilities of your smartphone.

Finally, the app must be reliable.It doesnt crash, it doesnt lose user information, and it doesnt act in ways you dont expect.

Anatomy of a Winning Entry

Fantastical 2 was among the winners of Apple’s 2015 Design Awards.

This calendar app created by Flexibits won thanks to its meticulous design, high functionality, speed and responsiveness, localization support, and deep integration with OS X.

With conversational requests, users can quickly create both one-time and complex recurring events. And Handoff support means they can easily move from iPhone to Mac to iPad and back.

Final Thoughts on Top App Awards

In this post, we’ve shared everything startup founders and product managers need to know about five of the top app awards, including the Webbys, Tabbys, Crunchies, Best Mobile App Awards, and Apple Design Awards.

Always make sure, however, that youre building and iterating upon your app with your user in mind — not these contests.

While winning a top app award can improve your download rate, only useful features and delightful design will improve your user retention, which is much more important in the long run.


Featured image via Flickr

Ready to start your project?

Learn how ThinkApps can get your product launched faster, better, and with more value than you knew was possible.

@ThinkApps on Twitter