Five News Sites and Apps Named World’s Best Designed

Five Web sites and mobile apps were named World’s Best Designed™ in the inaugural year of the Society for News Design’s annual Best of Digital News Design competition.

  • CNN: World’s Best-Designed News Web Site (CNN.com) and World’s Best Designed News App (CNN for iPad)
  • The Globe and Mail: World’s Best-Designed News Web site
  • The Guardian for iPhone: World’s Best-Design Mobile App
  • NPR for iPad: World’s Best-Designed News App

Winners were announced Saturday night at the Society’s 2011 Workshop and Exhibition in St. Louis, MO. Portugal’s i newspaper was also recognized as The World’s Best-Designed Newspaper, as announced in February.

The Best of Digital Design competition began this spring when 20 industry leaders spent a month poring over more than 500 entries from around the world. They met in person at Ball State University in February to discuss the top 150 entries. In addition to the World’s Best Designed winners, sixty awards were given to individual projects.

Judges’ Comments

CNN.com
World’s Best Designed News Website

CNN.com’s redesign helped defined online journalism last year, experimenting with new and creative approaches to storytelling. The site makes excellent use of space – both above the scroll and below – with clear, effective columns using good hierarchy. It does a beautiful job of combining both important news and political coverage with our desire for the geeky and the playful and, of course, gossip. The site is one of the few with an outstanding mix of video, text and photos used in a way that doesn’t feel out of touch. On CNN.com, stories are stories no matter how they are told or who tells them. And the site often links to user-generated content or other networks entirely under their top headlines.

CNN for iPad
World’s Best Designed News App

The CNN iPad app takes a cue from CNN.com, where a simple, grid-based structure drives its architecture and provides the user a simple, yet in-depth experience. But the iPad app takes it one step further. All too many news apps have made their tablet apps into miniature versions of their websites, but CNN didn’t rework a website as much as they considered the tablet as a new form. Gone are multiple menus and widgets. These might work well on a web page, but simplicity drives home a more pared down grid and story selection. And under the hood, the developers worked hard at creating a rich experience for the typical Web 2.0 user with a broad use of multimedia, an easy capacity to share stories and multiple ways of viewing content.

The Globe and Mail
World’s Best Designed News Website

This site’s design extends from the sophisticated, color-coded navigation users interact with to the strong, simple information architecture that underlies the entire site. The visual brand is always evident, even though each content sections’ front page manages to feel unique. The home page and section fronts are deliberate but not rigid, adapting well to the news of the day. The overall presentation feels modern, and it emphasizes the use of excellent typographic hierarchy. The Globe and Mail makes good use of data and multimedia and scales well across platforms. The Globe and Mail site is subtle and elegant in all the right ways, yet it really tries to help the user find content. The attention to detail is so good that even the site map is useful.

The Guardian for iPhone
World’s Best Design Mobile App

Making a news app feel different from other news apps is an almost impossible feat, but the Guardian’s iPhone app rose to the challenge and has created an app that utilizes its space effectively yet beautifully. Its stylized, color-coded sections are simple, but effective. The navigation makes perfect sense in this mobile form where space is at a premium. The Guardian iPhone app also showcases multimedia and galleries, giving these mediums space and relevancy in a way that other phone-based apps don’t even bother to approach.

NPR for iPad
World’s Best Designed News App

This iPad app does more than just share National Public Radio’s news content, it transforms the experience of listening to news. Now users can program their own newscast, picking from NPR programs, and not restricted to a single day. This is much more than time-shifting —— it’s medium bending. Not only is the primary concept behind the app powerful, but the experience is very polished. NPR (and BottleRocket) worked with Apple’s user interface guidelines creating an app that is fairly intuitive and has advanced features. There are few visual ornamentations or typographical flourishes, but the app is still attractive and fun to use. It transforms NPR listeners’ expectations and sets a standard for news apps on this new platform.