SND41 Best of Digital Design recap

Judging for SND’s Best of Digital Design competition wrapped up on Feb. 8, and all awards tallies are complete. World’s Best finalists will be announced Monday, Feb. 10, and the Best of Show in Mobile Storytelling winner will be announced in the next few days.

Full results can be found at, and make sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram to see silver and gold medal winners along with judges’ comments.

For a full overview of how the judging process works, read this Q&A.

The Society for News Design is proud to announce results from its Best of Digital Design contest, which started in 2002 and is part of the 41st edition of the news design creative competition. SND invited 14 judges from across the United States and around the globe to review 1,315 entries (a record number) during three days of judging at Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies campus in Washington, D.C. More than 100 organizations from 26 countries entered the competition.

The digital design competition uniquely honors journalistic, visual and technical excellence for work produced in 2019. Winners will be celebrated at The Society’s annual workshop in Washington D.C. in April, where The World’s Best-Designed™ will also be announced.

World’s Best Designed

Each year, the highest goal of this competition is to identify work that has fundamentally shifted or improved how news and information is delivered across digital platforms. This award has been given to websites and apps, but also to overall experiences or organizations.

The SND World’s Best digital competition was judged by Shazna Nessa (The Wall Street Journal), Darren Long (South China Morning Post), Scott Klein (ProPublica) and Renate Rognan (NRK). To ensure a fair competition, SND bars judges from participating in any way with their own organization’s entries.

The World’s Best-Designed™ winner will be announced at The Society’s annual workshop in D.C. in April.

The World’s Best Designed finalists are:

  • Bureau of Investigative Journalism
  • New York Magazine
  • Pop-Up Magazine and California Sunday Magazine
  • New York Times Cooking
  • The Guardian’s Membership Experience Design
  • The Washington Post
  • Vox’s video explainers
  • South China Morning Post’s Information Graphics

To read the judges’ comments in full, visit

Best in Show for Mobile Storytelling

First Place: “Self-driving cars: Who to save, who to sacrifice” from Radio-Canada

Runner-up: “The UFC’s 22 Hall of Fame moments” from ESPN

To read the judges’ comments in full, visit

Awards of Excellence Winners

Recognizes outstanding and excellent visual storytelling. These entries go beyond mere technical or aesthetic competency and may push the boundaries of originality and creativity.

The Los Angeles Times won an Award of Excellence for its article “101 Best Restaurants 2019.”

For full results visit

Total: 392

2. Story Page Design: 100

3. Information Graphics: 86

4. Format: 119

5. Line of coverage: 27

6. Product design: 12

7. Experimental design: 5

8. Portfolio: 43

Bronze medal winners

Recognizes visual storytelling at the leading edge of craftsmanship or innovation. These entries should demonstrate technical mastery, aesthetic mastery, or both. Entries receiving a Bronze Medal must have an elevated level of execution, originality or degree of difficulty.

DR won a Bronze Medal for its article “The tattoos of the King – recreated.” Judges comments include, “It’s cool. I like how when you scroll, it operates as a camera. All of the little animations adds to the whole experience. It’s not just the camera moves, but every once in a while the character will flex.” View the piece here.

For full results visit

Total: 92

2. Story Page Design: 26

3. Information Graphics: 17

4. Format: 28

5. Line of coverage: 4

6. Product design: 2

7. Experimental design: 2

8. Portfolio: 13

Silver medal winners

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. It should be nearly impossible to find anything deficient.

Reuters’ “Marvelous” article was the first Silver Medal awarded. Judges’ comments include, “Sometimes adding data viz in illustrations don’t fit together, but it works well. You get a little bit of data, a little bit of text, a little bit of technology.” View the piece here.

For full results visit

Total: 36

2. Story Page Design: 9

3. Information Graphics: 3

4. Format: 13

5. Line of coverage: 1

6. Product design: 1

7. Experimental design: 2

8. Portfolio: 7

Gold medal winners

Visual storytelling that defines the state of the art. These entries must stretch the limits of creativity both visually and technically. They 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 the gold standard for the design community.

The New York Times: Notre-Dame came far closer to collapsing than people knew. This is how it was saved.

Judges’ comments include, “I can see from here on out that this is the standard for how you cover the news. ”

The New York Times: What Do Rally Playlists Say About the Candidates?

Judges’ comments include, “I think it’s groundbreaking. I can’t really think of anything else for it to be better. It was one of the best I’ve seen as far as audio goes with politics.”

Globo: The movements of Simone Biles

Judges’ comments include, “I think it’s groundbreaking. The complexities. There are so many different levels.”

For full results visit

Total: 3

2. Story Page Design: 0

3. Information Graphics: 1

4. Format: 2

5. Line of coverage: 0

6. Product design: 0

7. Experimental design: 0

8. Portfolio: 0

Judging takeaways

Professional volunteer Mary Freda (left) talks to Simon Scarr (second from left) with Reuters, Kennedy Elliott (second from right) with National Geographic and Jan Diehm (right) with The Pudding about what they’ve seen at SND’s Digital Design Competition, Feb. 7.

We sat down with the judges for the Best of Digital Design competition and talked to them about the judging process. To read about what the judges had to say about the process, what work stood out to them and trends they hope to see more of, visit

Meet the Judges

A team of 14 judges was selected by the Digital Design Competition Committee to evaluate each entry on how well it accomplishes its editorial and design objectives. SND strives for diversity in judges, who are are journalism, new media and design experts from around the world. If judges have any apparent conflicts of interest on particular entries, they will not be assigned to evaluate those entries.

For full bios, visit


  • Jeremy CF Lin, Bloomberg
  • Libby Bawcombe, NPR
  • Martin Frobisher, Tampa Bay Times


  • Jan Diehm, Pudding
  • Simon Scarr, Reuters
  • Kennedy Elliott, National Geographic


  • Monica Ulmanu, The Washington Post
  • Renate Rognan, NRK


  • Sohail Al-Jamea, McClatchy
  • Tiffany Middleton, ESPN
  • Umi Syam, NYT

World’s Best

  • Shazna Nessa, Wall Street Journal
  • Darren Long, SCMP
  • Scott Klein, ProPublica

Facilitators and Volunteers

This year the Competition Committee was expanded to include 11 people from newsrooms across the country. The committee works on a variety of tasks, including choosing judges and deciding the categories of entry.

There are also over a dozen volunteers to help keep things running smoothly, handling everything from social media to helping facilitate to dealing with logistics.

The Competition Committee includes: Ryan Sparrow, Ball State University and SND Executive Committee Programs representative; Anna Boone, Star Tribune Digital Designer; Heather Donahue, Creative Director; Jeremy Gilbert, Washington Post Director of Strategic Initiatives; Brian Gross, Washington Post Deputy Design Director; Stephanie Hays, Seattle Times Designer; Yue Qiu, Bloomberg Graphics Team Leader; Marianne Seregi, National Geographic Design Director.

Additional support: Matt Callahan, Washington Post Design Editor; Mary Freda, The Times of Northwest Indiana Reporter; Aviva Loeb, Washington Post Digital Designer; Sisi Wei, ProPublica Assistant Managing Editor

Volunteers include: Courtney Kan, The Washington Post; Megan McCrink, Politico; John Muyskens, The Washington Post; Sandi Owatverot, National Geographic; Clare Ramirez, The Washington Post; Stephanie Redding, Washington Business Journal; Harry Stevens, The Washington Post; Hannah Tak, National Geographic; and Julia Terbrock, Washington City Paper.

For more information, check out these frequently asked questions.

Where We’re Located

This year, judging will take place at Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies in the heart of Washington D.C. The school offers marketing and communications programs for individuals looking to build or hone their digital and communications skills.

Results by publication

We will attempt to update which organizations have the most awards each day, along with their overall tallies.

Recap of SND40

Last year 13 judges reviewed almost 1,300 entries from around the world. They awarded 408 Bronze Medals, 36 Silver Medals and 5 Gold Medals.

The World’s Best-Designed™ winner was Reuters. Finalists included The Globe and Mail (Canada), The Lily (United States), The Marshall Project (United States), The New York Times (United States), The Pudding (United States).

For all of last year’s results, visit

Photos by Stephanie Hays | SND Best of Digital Design Competition Committee

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