SND Digital: How the judging works

As the judges begin to look at entries from the 15 Best of Digital Design competition categories, SND shares a look at the criteria and judging process.

Judging teams

Each interdisciplinary judging team is made up of three judges to avoid ties. Judges represent a range of experience levels and perspectives, including content, design and development. Alternate judges are available to resolve conflicts of interest with submitted entries.

Judging Round 1

This judging round is conducted individually and judges are expected to spend 3 to 10 minutes with each entry. To receive an Award of Excellence, an entry must receive at least two yes votes. Three yes votes qualifies an entry to continue to Round 2.

Judging Round 2, Medal Round

This judging round will immediately take place following the conclusion of the round judged and centers around a conversation. Judges will only evaluate entries that received three yes votes to determine if the entry receives either an Award of Excellence or a Silver or Gold medal. All three judges will be able to see the entry they are discussing and a competition committee member will facilitate the conversation conversation and ensure that each judge has a chance to speak.

All three judges must agree to award a Silver or Gold Medal. For an entry to receive a Gold Medal it must be unanimously agreed upon. If two judges believe an entry deserves a Gold Medal but one believes it deserves a Silver Medal it will receive a Silver Medal. If one of the judges believes an entry deserves only an Award of Excellence it can receive no higher award.


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 aesthic and technical proficiency of the these entries should stretch the limits of the medium. These entries should shine — they 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.

About Courtney Kan

is a designer at The Washington Post and the editor of

Leave a Reply