SND39 Best of Digital Design: Announcing the 7 World’s Best Finalists

From a large body of extraordinary work, the “World’s Best” finalists were unique but ultimately folded into two categories of design accomplishment: platform excellence and storytelling strength. The best platforms emphasized refined presentations of depth and volume — or established new models for brevity and efficient comprehension. And the best storytelling entries stood out as the right kind of journalism for the current news environment. In these projects, the stories were built around powerful pieces of visual evidence like videos, photographs and graphics, which were expertly woven into narratives covering important and controversial topics.

The final winner will be announced at The Society’s annual Workshop in New York, March 22-24.

The World’s Best finalists are:


Embraces brevity as a structure, working from a newsletter-first culture to shape their storytelling across platforms. The cleanliness of the site and social-media formatted approach to written stories and strong one-screen visualizations make for a fresh and friendly experience. This the innovative organization that built a smart platform around succinct articles.

The Cut

Their presentation on the web and on social media feels like a  breakthrough for Style and Cultural journalism. There is a compelling elegance to every aspect of the site: from the whimsical thumbnail crops to the demure serif typography. This is a digitally-born fashion magazine.


The Globe and Mail

There is a special clarity to its design, with a clear hierarchy that exists across the entire site. The Globe and Mail’s entire visual team subscribes to a single cohesive vision for storytelling. For instance; the Globe’s 20-month investigative reporting on sexual assault is remarkably one of the best. Their coverage courageously challenged policy on how police handle sexual assault, packaging the narrative in a visually-respectful manner, with excellent use of imagery, video, illustrations and data-driven graphics. The digital presentation is fresh and digestible with just the right amount of novelty.



The New York Times’ Multi-Sensory Design

With astonishing consistency, The Times keeps finding new and innovative ways to extract the most from its toolkit to create immersive, memorable and illuminating journalism. Its visuals teams are incredibly resourceful, and at their very best in blending anything they can — from crowd-sourced video, wrenching audio and full-screen photography to eye-opening data, precision mapping and flawless motion — to tell stories that fully engage readers’ hearts, minds and senses.



NPR Text

This unvarnished version of NPR’s top stories ended up in the final rounds of our discussions mostly because of the jarring simplicity of the page. There’s a lot of room for improvement here, but there’s also a lesson here about radical, no-nonsense efficiency.


The Pudding

Putting sophisticated visualizations at the center of their analytical essays really works here as an engaging kind of visual long-reading experience.




Reuters is a prime example of a news organization that tells visual stories, not stories with visuals. The careful and judicious editing of its storytelling assets come together like music from a seasoned orchestra. The pieces strike all the right notes at precisely the correct volume, tone and pace, so as not to overwhelm its intended audience. The work is incredibly disciplined, and shows a mastery of motion and a blending of elements into dynamic narratives that can be skimmed or probed deeper.





The final winner will be announced at The Society’s annual Workshop in New York, March 22-24.


World’s Best judges:

  • Jason Chiu, Deputy Head of Presentation, The Globe and Mail
  • Susan Mango Curtis, Associate Professor, Medill, Northwestern University
  • Steve Duenes, Assistant Masthead Editor, The New York Times
  • Josh Penrod, Presentation Director, Minneapolis Star Tribune


Note: To ensure a fair competition, SND bars Digital judges from participating in any way with their own organization’s entries.

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