Rhonda, I guess it would depend on your definition of a smart choice - and what your goals are too.
If you are planning on creating your own Iris, then you would be looking for plants that are good parents and have the features that you want to reproduce. The breeders on this list could give you information on which are good choices to get you started.
If you are wanting to collect Iris for your own pleasure only (as I do) then to me a smart choice would mean only choosing the plants you really like the look of and - hopefully - do well in your garden's zone and conditions. And not worrying about if it's "popular" or an award winner. If you choose plants you like, and they give you joy each time you look at them, then what more can you ask for?
I did get one response but I am looking for a variety of opinions.
All 3 of your points were of interest. My current method is your 3rd point. I have been ordering bargains from Cooley's and selecting form the catalog what appeals to me. I had Snow Peak and Suttons recommended by the group recently.
I just joined the AIS and the local chapter. Which should give me access you your other suggestions. But it's still hard to choose when you want them ALL.
Thanks so much for making a new comer to the group feel so welcome
Rochester, New York