SND Digital World’s Best: The Outline

Most of the news industry has accepted the idea that their mobile audience is the most important and often the fastest growing, but few news sites are truly designed mobile-first.

The relentless focus on an amazing mobile experience is why the 2016 World’s Best for Digital Design was awarded to The Outline.

As the Outline came about, the designers set to creating a truly mobile-first publication. And it is apparent. Between the smart use of cards, a “swipe-not-scroll” mentality and an almost Snapchat-inspired look and feel to content exploration, The Outline surpasses other sites in its approach.

In his acceptance speech in Charlotte last month, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, Joshua Topolsky gave credit to the creative approach to story design of the print world, telling the audience that that’s how they want to approach visual storytelling.

And it shows.

The use of color and type and other design elements are creative and intriguing without interfering with user experience or control. If there’s templates used, you’d be hard pressed to find them on the site that pops from the screen with, for lack of a better word, fun. It’s just fun.

The World’s Best judging team explained, “Instead of complaining that platforms like Facebook and Snapchat are strong in mobile, they set out to learn from them and created their own mobile storytelling formats. The Outline does not play it safe. They made bold decisions, broke all the rules and created a truly mobile-first experience that’s delightful and different. We applaud them for their audaciousness.”

To evaluate the universe of digital new experiences, the judging team – Kat Downs (Washington Post), Martin Kotynek (Zeit Online), Mariana Santos (formerly of Fusion) and Jessica Yu (formerly of The Wall Street Journal) — created a set of criteria that nominated sites or apps must adhere to:

  • Meet their audience where they are
  • Engage their communities
  • Have a clear focus
  • Create gorgeous and useful experiences
  • Respect users and solve their problems
  • Demonstrate sound judgement
  • Be ambitious, daring and audacious

The Outline beat out veterans such as National Geographic, New York Times, The Washington Post. In fact, the winning publication officially just launched in December 2016, making it the newest of all of the finalists.


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