Best of Digital Judging Criteria – Visualized

Since it began five years ago, the Best of Digital Design competition has worked to evolve its categories as technology has shifted and storytelling techniques have evolved. The competition committee started with our print contest standards and procedures, but quickly evolved them for the unique needs of a digital environment.

In the summer of 2011, co-director Jeremy Gilbert led a committee to re-write the judging rules and procedures to better reflect the changing competition.

Each judging team consists of an odd number of judges to avoid ties. Each judging team has three judges with differing experience levels and areas of expertise. Alternate judges are available for when a judge has a conflict of interest with a submission. There are three possible rounds within each judging category.

Of course, the best way for SND to explain the judging process is to visualize it. Follow the flow chart to get a feel for the judging process.


Award of Excellence: Signifies work that is truly excellent and goes beyond technical or aesthetic competency. While entries receiving these awards may have minor flaws, judges should be able to envision the slight changes that would make them close to “perfect.” It is appropriate to honor entries for such things as being daring and innovative if the entry is outstanding but less than perfect in every respect. Be tough but fair.

Silver Medal: Work that goes beyond excellence. The aesthetic and technical proficiency of the these entries should stretch the limits of the medium. These entries must be almost perfect if not perfect.

Gold Medal: Work that defines the state of the art. These entries must stretch the limits of creativity both visually and technically. It should be impossible to find deficiencies in a gold-winning entry. It should be perfect or as near as one can reasonably come. Any entry receiving this award should be held up as a paragon for the design community. In past years few Gold Medals have been awarded.

Stephanie Redding is a journalism graphics major at Ball State University and the graphics editor for the Ball State Daily News.

Leave a Reply