Eddie Winner: Best Online Tool

In American culture, among women, dieting is often simultaneously viewed as a necessity and a form of self-inflicted torture. Rather than continue to perpetuate the negative connotations so often associated with weight loss, Self Magazine decided to offer its readers a more pleasant alternative: its Drop Ten Self Challenge, paired with a multi-platform, calorie-counting tool called Happy Plate.

The Drop Ten plan launched in Self’s April issue, coinciding with the magazine’s iPad debut. The Challenge ran through the June issue. To accompany the Challenge was the Happy Plate, an interactive tool that assisted users in portioning 1750 “happy” (or indulgent) calories for the week. For simple navigation, foods and beverages were divided into categories like “savory”, “salty” and “sweet”.

Self’s creative director Cindy Searight says, “It was in print first. The editors named it Happy Plate; then we made a literal Happy Plate, building HTML for the drag and drop on the iPad.”

Kristen Dollard, digital director with Self, adds, “The core itself works on all the platforms, and the print was the caboose. It was interesting, because we worked a lot on the code to make sure it worked as well online as it did on the tablet.”

Traditionally, Self programs are put behind a registration wall; however, the staff decided to use this tool as a teaser. Users were able to use the Plate and share the results through social media without getting behind a reg wall.

The Drop Ten Challenge attracted 150,000 to 200,000 users, according to Self staff. Of this number, 50,000 utilized the Happy Plate to complete the Challenge. Dollard says of the success, “People always talk about usability, but I think likeability of your site and tool set are more important. It was engaging, in addition to being an educational tool.”

Beyond the utility of the tool, the Happy Plate may have helped dispel a common attitude towards food. “It wasn’t like Weight Watchers. It offered more good calories, without identifying calories as ‘bad calories’,” says Dollard.