Six finalists for World’s Best-Designed in Digital

The World’s Best-Designed™ winner will be announced at The Society’s annual workshop in Chicago in April. Here are the six finalists:

SND40 | Best of Digital Design

Judges’ remarks

This year we saw more publications employ audience-first thinking and narrow their coverage and presentation approach to serve the reader/user first. These deep dives on particular topics, story forms, and coverage areas by outfits like Axios, The Lily, Pudding, The Intercept and The Marshall Project illustrate how audience insight can guide presentation and ultimately produce a more unified creative voice. 

There was also a growth in visuals as a primary source in reporting in the video and interactive longreads space. The work in visual forensics by The New York Times and Reuters reveal how diving deeper into everything visual can not only support reporting, but propel it and form the backbone of the journalism. The work these organizations did with CCTV, social media, 3D graphics recreation, satellite imagery, and ballistics trajectory elevate the work of visual journalists around the world and stand as an example of the endless potential of our industry. 

Longform storytelling driven by compelling photography, new approaches in cartography, subtle animation, and a keen eye on editing by all the finalists made them stand apart in the industry. Publications like The Globe and Mail and Reuters showed incredible range and ability in their storytelling, but also how precise editing (through form and function) yielded experience of incredible finesse. 

The finalists this year serve as industry role models for their use of technology, their disciplined visual editing, and gorgeous visual presentations. The continued growth in new visual forms of newsgathering will continue to challenge us all, as well uber-focused, audience-driven publications and stories.

The 2018 World’s Best-Designed™ finalists

The Globe and Mail

The Globe and Mail is a precision machine. There’s a consistent intentionality and excellence present in all the design decisions, from the pacing of how each story visually unfolds to photo editing to dynamic maps. Storyform choices are organic, never forced, and the design is beautifully restrained. This is state-of-the-art storytelling.

More from The Globe and Mail:
• Highway of riches, road to ruin: Inside the Amazon’s deforestation crisis
• Us Too: Eight women share their stories of sexism, harassment and assault at work

The Lily

The range of The Lily’s stories and products is impressive. Every topic, story, experience and deep dive is carefully crafted for its audience and effectively presented. No matter where a reader encounters the content, it’s clear that there is a common creative and visual language that embodies the Lily’s aesthetic voice. It is a publication whose journalism is expressed through its design, creative edge, and playful (with discipline) approach to every aspect of its ecosystem.

More from The Lily:
• Staff portfolio 2018

The Marshall Project

The Marshall Project chooses to tell difficult stories, focusing on felons, prison, capital punishment and criminal justice. These are powerful stories told in powerful ways. The storytelling tools are chosen effectively: quiet portraiture with tightly-edited audio, focusing on individual people’s voices and stories. And what follows is design that brings bring humanity and dignity its subjects. One of the judges admiringly called it “Big J Journalism.”


More from The Marshall Project:
• The Nomadic Sex Offenders of Miami-Dade County
• A Rare Look Inside One of the Only High Schools at an Adult Jail

The New York Times

Three key aspects of visual storytelling stood out among the work on display from The New York Times:  innovative experimentation using AR and VR technology, incredibly polished interactive features, and a powerful series of investigative videos. The visual forensics tract continues to grow at an exponential rate at The New York Times. The group has expanded its repertoire by pursuing a wide range of primary resources to bring about incredibly complex explanatory journalism. Ten seconds of real life can take ten minutes to explain, but one cannot help but feel completely engrossed in every detail.

More from 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 
• Royal Wedding FAQ 
• Mikaela Shiffrin Is Winning a Lot of Slalom Races. But That’s Not Good Enough. 
• Kidnapped as Schoolgirls by Boko Haram: Here They Are Now 
• A Visual Journey Through Addiction 
• Watch New Yorkers React to the World Cup 
• Larry Nassar Abuse 
• 45 Stories of Sex and Consent on Campus 
• March For Our Lives 
• It’s Intermission for the Large Hadron Collider
• Augmented Reality: David Bowie in Three Dimensions

The Pudding

The Pudding pushes creativity both visually and technically. Each piece is unique, and feels crafted specifically for the story. The effortless weaving of audio, graphics, and narrative story telling into the stand-up comedy piece is this year’s example of multimedia storytelling at it’s best, and a creative approach to applying science to examine art.

More from The Pudding
• The Differences in How CNN, MSNBC, and FOX Cover the News
• The Structure of Stand-Up Comedy
• The Birthday Paradox Experiment
• Women’s Pockets are Inferior
• A visual history of every Air Jordan
• isualizing the World’s Population, in 3D
• 30 Years of American Anxieties
• Internet Boy Band Database


Consistent interactive story formats and deep graphics-based stories are the backbone of Reuters’s disciplined presentation and visual storytelling. Superb editing (particularly in photojournalism and graphics) paired with creative news gathering (use of social media, satellite imagery, and 3D rendering) elevated their designs. Reuters’s use of visual reporting to report, tell and advance stories is an approach to journalism more of us can emulate and call our own.

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