Best of Digital Design silver and gold medal comments

We’re adding medal winners as they come in throughout the weekend, so check back here for updates.


Bronze Medal: Work that is truly excellent. These entries should show both technical and aesthetic mastery — employing digital design principles to tell compelling stories. It is appropriate to honor work that pushes the boundaries of an individual, organization or the industry, even if the entry is less than perfect. Judges are asked to be tough but fair. [Note: We will list bronze medal winners in a separate post once judging has concluded.]

Silver Medal: Work that goes beyond excellent. The aesthetic and technical proficiency of these entries should stretch the limits of the medium — representing an elevated level of execution and originality in pursuit of powerful storytelling. 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. These entries must be groundbreaking in both form and fit — telling their story in the most powerful way imaginable. 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, judges have awarded few Gold Medals.


Overall Portfolio, Organization  The Pudding

Judges said: One of the distinctive things you find is that they’re very selective about story form. Each piece is designed to tell a specific story, not constrained by any type of branding.

Overall Portfolio, Organization The New York Times
Killing Khashoggi: How a Brutal Saudi Hit Job Unfolded
One Building, One Bomb: How Assad Gassed His Own People
An Israeli Soldier Killed a Medic in Gaza. We Investigated the Fatal Shot.
How a Gang Hunted and Killed a 15-Year-Old in the Bronx

Judges said: All the elements that used to be poured into newspaper reporting and then visualized are now extracted from visualized are now extracted from visuals. It is unique, and the Times has pioneered and expanded the form. 

Graphics: 3B Gender/Identity & Society
“Extensive Data Shows Punishing Reach of Racism for Black Boys” | The New York Times

Judges said: This piece sparked a meaningful and lively discussion among readers. It wouldn’t have reached the same audience without its adventurous design decisions.The way they sliced and diced data was extremely illuminating. It does push the boundaries, it is really good use of animation. It humanizes the data in the best way. I can’t imagine a better way to do it. It is one of the strongest infographics in itself in telling the full story.

News: 2B Business/Finance, Science, Technology, Transportation, Environment & Health
“Katie’s New Face” | National Geographic

Judges said: They don’t shy away from the honest truth of the experience. There’s such a powerful narrative integrated in that it feels cinematic in its presentation.

Information graphics: 3B Local

How 2 M.T.A. Decisions Pushed the Subway into Crisis | The New York Times

It goes out of its way to creatively present the data. I really like that time is presented vertically – while we often shy away from doing that because it’s unconventional, it really works here. It’s a great learning experience – it explains not just how, but why. There’s a clever integration of svg animations. I couldn’t think of any more perfect way to do this. It sets a high standard for what we do. This is an ambitious story told in its best possible form.  


Graphics: 3A Breaking News, International
“Lucky 13” | Reuters

Judges said: It was the whole experience with the dark mood. We’ve seen a lot of pieces on this Thai rescue, but the horizontal graphic really pushes it forward.

Features: 2B Arts, Entertainment, Food, Travel & Lifestyle
“Art in an Instant” | The Washington Post

Judges said: This one feels like a story that was conceived for this medium. It feels incredibly smooth. It’s fluid, it’s engaging, it doesn’t get in it’s own way.

Features: 2B Arts, Entertainment, Food, Travel & Lifestyle
“Why Songs of the Summer Sound the Same” | The New York Times

Judges said: The practiced restraint, not giving you too much info and keeping it centered on the music.

News: 2B International
“Italia” | TASS Russian News Agency

Judges said: They did a lot of different approaches to draw you into the story. There are a lot of different elements, but they tie together really well.

News: 2B International
“Kidnapped as Schoolgirls” | The New York Times

Overall Portfolio, Organization
The Lily

Judges said: It has a very consistent aesthetic. There’s no hesitation about the design at all. There’s an identity, no matter what product they’re show you … That’s not easy to pull off. 

Features: 2B Gender/Identity & Society
“45 Stories of Sex and Consent on Campus” | The New York Times

Graphics: 3B News Features, International
“How the monsoon could devastate Rohingya camps” | Reuters

Judges said: I appreciate how many datasets they used. There was a lot of color, and things happening, but it didn’t break. 

News: 2B Local
“The Four Days in 1968 That Reshaped DC” | The Washington Post

Judges said: Each piece complements each other under the big banner of 1968. It’s just a smooth experience all the way through.

News: 2B Local
1968 (line of coverage; 2, 3) | The Washington Post

Judges said: I’ve seen a lot of scrollers and this one is very, very smoothly implemented. The maps in particular were really well integrated.

News: 2B Local
“Barna vi Sletter” (line of coverage; 2, 3)| Adresseavisen

Judges said: They have a style and stuck with it through each of the elements. It is a really pretty piece for an incredibly dark story.

News: 2B Local
“Unbroken” | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Judges said: The pacing and the experience was fantastic. In terms of storytelling, it was one of the strongest.  

Features: 2C Format, Use of Illustration
“A Visual Journey Through Addiction” | The New York Times

Judges said: There are ideas that we talk about but a lot of people cannot visualize … The problem they are trying to solve is a pretty big task.

Features: 2C Format, Use of Illustration
“When Having a Child Doesn’t Make You Happy” | The New York Times

Judges said: The story that they are trying to tell is a pretty complicated journey. The illustrations support the story completely. 

News: 2B Sports
“Body 10” | ESPN

Judges said: It is done really smartly and you see behind the scenes. They use the full space, and it is such an explicitly visual piece.

News: 2B Sports
“Game Changers” | ESPN

Judges said: The very bold use of colors and typography really stands out. This does a really good job for someone who doesn’t get why the elements of basketball are important … It was one of the most fun ones we saw. 

Graphics: 3C Format, Use of Maps
“The Stones in the Road for China’s 2025 Plan for Electric Vehicles” | South China Morning Post

Judges said: The end product is useful and aesthetically beautiful. You have to be creative in how you collect and present data in China — this piece did a great job of showing that.

Graphics: 3C Format, Use of Maps
“Borderline” | The Washington Post

Judges said: The direction it gives — it’s just very well thought out. It’s a wonderful interactive map, I thought the UI was really good — I didn’t feel lost. 

Features: 2C Format, Use of Multimedia
“To See How Levees Increase Flooding, We Built Our Own” | ProPublica, Reveal and Vox

Judges said: How you can control the flow, and see how levees react is a really engaging way to show this information

Social Media: 5B Social Media Stories or Threads
“Mozambique” Snapchat Discover| The New York Times

Judges said: Of all the social things, some of them tackled really difficult topics, but this did in a way that didn’t feel wrong for the platform.

Social Media: 5B Social Media Stories or Threads
“Families-Divided Crisis” | The Texas Tribune

Judges said: The Trib’s job is to get information out there in a way, on any platform, and this effectively did that. 

Graphics: 3B News Features, National
“‘Hell on Earth’: The First 12 Hours of California’s Deadliest Wildfire” | The New York Times

Judges said: They manage to capture really well the spread and how fast it went, which was the problem with the fire. I like the details of the scale on the left as it burns down and the minute-by-minute chronology. 

Graphics: 3B News Features, National
“Borderline” | The Washington Post

Judges said: Seeing this for the first time, I learned a lot. It was very anecdotal and very human.

Graphics: 3B News Features, National
“America is More Diverse Than Ever – But Still Segregated” | The Washington Post

Judges said: I feel like they took a widely accessible date set, which is the census data, and did something very comprehensive with it.

News: 4B Special events, Elections
“These Wealthy Neighborhoods Delivered the Democrats the House Majority” | The Washington Post

Judges said: Obviously the map is very well designed, and there are many layers of information … but you don’t feel overwhelmed.

Social Media Portfolio, Organization
Snapchat Discover | VICE
We Asked an Expert Why you Think Cannibalism Is Gross
Undercover Police On the Most Dangerous Situation They’ve Been in
Saving Face: My Plastic Surgery at Age 13
People Told Us the Highest They’ve Ever Been in Six Words
The Man Who Almost Killed Me Only Did 120 Days in Jail
Yes, You Can Be Addicted to Weed
How Online Harassment Changed My Self-Image
Snapchat Curation: Embarrassing Memories

Judges said: They’re doing their own style, putting a lot of work into it, taking the platform seriously … it’s just great storytelling. 

Graphics: 3B News Features, Business/Finance, Science, Technology, Transportation, Environment & Health
“Building Katie’s New Face”National Geographic

Judges said: It’s very elegantly done. Restraint was important. They paid attention to being flashy given the subject matter.

Graphics: 3B News Features, Business/Finance, Science, Technology, Transportation, Environment & Health
“West Virginia”  | ProPublica and The Charleston Gazette-Mail

Judges said: I really like how the map doesn’t really slam you. It very gradually loads those things in to give you time to process what you’re viewing.

Graphics: 3C Use of Data
“How Connected Is Your Community to Everywhere Else in America?” | The New York Times

Judges said: They took the Facebook data and had a really unique angle of analyzing it. They had some enlightening discoveries. I couldn’t stop reading.

Graphics: 3C Use of Data
“Facebook Political Ad Collector” | ProPublica

Judges said: They did a really good job collecting data themselves, and they made it easy to explore.

Story Design Portfolio, Organization
The Washington Post
Alt Story Telling
DC Riots 1968
Human’s Have Made Wildfires Worse
Glenstone Museum
What Unites US
Science Behind Improv
Too Many Men

Judges said: They do a great job to make all of these pieces feel in touch with each other, but they’re not all built with the same template. They all fell united and it’s really impressive.


Graphics Portfolio, Individual
Derek Watkins | The New York Times
How One Houston Suburb Ended Up in a Reservoir
A Map of Every Building in America
Sizing Up the 2018 Blue Wave
Your Children’s Yellowstone Will Be Radically Different
The World, Built by China
Saudi Strikes, American Bombs, Yemeni Suffering

Judge said: I really like the pace of the storytelling, and the wide range of graphics he makes, and I can only imagine the wide range of tools he uses to make these graphics.

Graphics Portfolio, Organization
The Washington Post
1968: The four days that reshaped D.C. 
A mystery dinosaur in the basement (includes AR experience in iPhone) 
Unsolved murders database 
Segregation maps 
Gridlock in the Sky 
School shootings database 

Judge said: They’re deploying some of the most advanced technology, and the quality is consistent is throughout

Graphics Portfolio, Organization
The Pudding

Judge said: I think they are setting the tone in so many ways and pushing things forward. The graphics are quirky but they tell you something.

Graphics Portfolio, Organization
The New York Times
The Follower Factory 
Mikaela Shiffrin Is Winning a Lot of Slalom Races. But That’s Not Good Enough. 
Extensive Data Shows Punishing Reach of Racism for Black Boys 
How Trump’s Trade War Went From 18 Products to 10,000 
Why Songs of the Summer Sound the Same 
How Much Hotter Is Your Hometown Than When You Were Born 
See Inside Typhoon Mangkhut in 3-D 
Live Forecast: Who Will Win the House? 

Judge said: I think it shows incredible range in both topics and tools. There is a style, but each of these had elements that are taken to another level. 

Find previous winners in the SND Best of Digital Design archive.


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