We weren't actively looking for a contest management solution but a Sales representative reached out to gauge our interest in OpenWater, after hearing about our Construction Intern Awards scholarship program. Up until that point we had been using Wordpress to manage this competition, which included a lot of manual maintenance, popular voting plugins, a bulky media gathering process, entry content display delays, and several other headaches.
On top of that, we had to use other solutions to manage the judging portion of the contest, which involved either rigging survey products or creating a mess of spreadsheets but both caused confusion for the judges.
What we liked most about OpenWater is that it addressed all of the above problems we were facing and allowed us the freedom to customize almost everything. Every other contest management software that we looked at wouldn't let us use our own CSS/HTML to style the site, relying on some sort of WYSIWIG instead.
After the initial setup, OpenWater was a huge timesaver. We have also had outstanding support reps since the beginning of implementation. We've asked for a lot during our time using OpenWater and they definitely come through for us.
Our contest is set up in a pretty unconventional way (weekly popular vote-based contests combined with a separate traditional scholarship application), and OpenWater has done a good job of keeping up with our requests. There are several smaller, nit-picky things about the popular vote functionality that could be improved but it's still better than what we were doing before. Another factor that we've had to work around is the fact that the contest dashboard looks the same for everyone who visits the dashboard, regardless of user type (applicant/judge/voter), which can be confusing for some users.
What problems are you solving with the product? What benefits have you realized?
- Less manual work for sharing entries in a public gallery
- Better popular voting contest management
- Judging portal that is easier to use than our previous process
- Easy way to collect media from applicants (photos, video, written content)
- Freedom to customize with CSS/HTML