By JENNY RICKS
Students can now sign up for the fifth Web site competition hosted by the Kevin and Debra Rollins Center for eBusiness at BYU.
The competition, now named ‘Web Solutions,’ is undergoing some major structure changes and is a way for students to gain Web experience and exposure.
Web Solutions is giving students the opportunity to design a Web site for an organization and have it judged. At least one member of the team must be a current BYU student.
“Companies having the Web sites designed are getting a professional Web site basically designed for a very low cost,” said Michael Pope, a curriculum committee student lead. “If they went out into the industry, it would cost thousands and thousands of dollars.”
Web Solutions differs from competitions in the past because more emphasis will be placed on strategy and less focus on design.
“We are trying to shift the gears,” said John Richards, managing director of the Kevin and Debra Rollins Center for eBusiness. “Putting up a Web site is not just about who can put up the pages, but who can think a strategy through and implement it.”
Richards also said while Web design is important, it needs to be paired with strategic thinking.
“We’ve gone beyond painting pictures in HTML to now being able to implement strategy,” said Doug Witt, a Web Solutions Competition faculty advisor.
Witt said students gain much from participation in the Web Solutions Competition. Benefits include experience in dealing with real business problems instead of just academic assignments, experience in teamwork and a great resume builder. Witt also said one of the main goals of the competition is exposure.
“Many of our judges come to participate with us merely to cherry-pick our talent,” he said.
Those involved in the competition said many times judges and observers will offer participants jobs.
This semester, there are three organizations students can choose to create a Web site for, including Care For Life, Corda and the Tivoli Gallery.
Prize money for the competition totals $12,000, which is a significant increase from the $4,000 in the competition last summer. First place winners can receive as much as $3,200 from some organizations. Second and third place will also receive prize money, and other non-monetary prizes will be given away. Prize money is expected to increase further in future competitions.
“The solutions coming from the competition will be more complicated and will require a higher caliber student,” Pope said. “Our vision is that we’ll have larger and more renowned companies putting up prize money as a result.”
The competition is usually every Fall and Winter Semester, however in the future it may only take place once a year.
“Our goal is that someday these projects will become bigger and even more complex, meaning it might take more than a semester to complete,” Witt said.
All BYU students are eligible to take part in the Web Solutions Competition, and no business experience is required.
“Through experience and observation we have learned that we have incredible talent at BYU,” Witt said. “We want to draw that talent out of all corners of campus.”
Students participating in the competition can work alone or in teams. Witt said teams are encouraged because each member usually has different strengths and abilities that can contribute to the whole process.
Additionally, any student who has taken Business Management 340 or 341 will now have the opportunity to take Internet Marketing starting Winter Semester 2005 to help prepare for future competitions. Previously, the class was offered only to students accepted to the Marriott School of Management. Witt said the class opening is an attempt to create more instructional opportunities for competition participants, and the class introduces eBusiness concepts.
Students can learn more about the competition, judging critera, past winners and sign up at http://ebusiness.byu.edu/Websitecomp/. Applications are due by October 28, and Web sites must be submitted by noon on November 29. Finalists will be notified by e-mail and have the opportunity to present their Web sites before judges on December 7.