Tip sheet: How to give your digital contest entry the best shot at winning

There’s a lot to keep in mind when deciding which entries to submit. The 42nd Edition SND Best of Digital News Design competition will kick off Jan. 11 — you can enter here until Feb. 1. Below are criteria the judges will be using when evaluating entries, along with tips on what to include with each entry to properly describe its value.

Judging perspectives

Each interdisciplinary judging team is made up of three judges, who will evaluate entries in these three areas:

  • Content: Data visualization, information graphics, animation, video, audio, etc.
  • Design: User experience, information architecture, usability, etc.
  • Development: Data analysis, programming, etc.

The judges’ evaluation criteria

  • News value – Does the presentation’s content pass the traditional test of newsworthiness? Have the designers clearly defined their audience? Is this event/project worth the investment of multimedia to tell the story? Is it ethical in its uses of technology? How well does it use community tools?
  • Editing – Does this presentation utilize the best ways to communicate with the audience? Were deliberate decisions made to utilize each form of media presentation-audio, video, text, still images, interactivity or the right development approach?
  • Information architecture – Is the presentation intuitive and informative? Are the designers aware of the information’s inherent structure? Do they understand and utilize it? Can relevant information be retrieved quickly? Is the interface easy to use?
  • Aesthetic presentation – Is the presentation well designed in terms of focus, organization, balance, proportion, contrast, unity and color use? Does the designer consider frame of mind and expectations of the user? Does the design drive technology? Are all aesthetic decisions relevant to the news value of the presentation?
  • Innovation – How well does the entry use the unique, interactive features of multimedia? Is the presentation


Don’t think you can’t enter because your work isn’t using the latest technology or isn’t super interactive

Lots of organizations won awards last year for excellent static graphics, simply animated social cards and pages highlighting strong photography. If you think you have really strong web design, regardless of how flashy it is, submit it.

If better for the submission, use an alternative submission technique

Most of the time, the work is self explanatory. However, if there’s extra information the judges should know or you need to communicate particular usability, you can take videos of how social media was used, create a website for your submissions or make a slideshow about what makes your content excellent.

Note if it’s primarily designed for a particular platform (mobile especially)

If a story was meant to only be experienced on mobile or on a tablet, write that down in the submission so that the judges are aware they need to use a particular device to experience the article. 

Please note any other additional usage instructions for articles. If there are AR/VR components that require phones or physical objects (white paper or a smooth surface), include that in the comments, too, so that judges can be prepared and experience the story the way it was intended. 

If particular parts of articles should be highlighted, whether that’s a portion of interactivity or additional video/multimedia, include that in the submission so the judges don’t miss out.

How digital are you?

News designers have a range of roles, from mostly print to custom coding and everything in between. Do you design social cards to help promote stories? We have categories for that. Do you art direct illustrations or photos that are used with stories published online? That’s digital, and we have categories for that, too.

Work at a non-traditional media organization?

We have new categories this year specifically for Association Trade and B2B publications. Last year we had winners from Upstatement and Deloitte win awards, so even if you don’t work at a traditional news publication, you should definitely enter.

Helpful links:

Check back for more updates soon on Twitter and Instagram.

Complete list of new and updated categories.

Archives of all previous winners, including portfolios.

This will be the direct link for entries when they open.


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