SND39 | Best of Digital Design: World’s Best-Designed™
The New York Times Multi-Sensory Design
The Times continues to uncover new and illuminating story approaches to some of the most complex news events of our time. To tell the story of what happens backstage just before showtime at The Met Opera, they leveraged long, single-shot camera footage to show performers at their most excited and vulnerable moments. To explain how ice shelves in Antarctica are approaching unstoppable disintegration, the Times overlaid thousands of tiny ice veins onto a large-scale map and animated them sliding into the sea. To put readers on the ground during gunfire at a Las Vegas concert, the Times turned to social media to obtain dozens of audio and video clips from eyewitnesses, then synced them up to show the terror that ensued over ten full minutes. Not to be forgotten, their use of time-lapse animation illustrated how an ancient lake bed in Mexico City made a disastrous earthquake even worse and how thousands of cries for help in Houston played out over three days as the city flooded. Whether at the blinding speed of breaking news or the measured pace of searing analysis, the Times’ visuals teams consistently prove that there is no storyform or visual tool they won’t consider to put readers as close to the news as possible.
World’s Best-Designed™ Runner-up
Reuters takes topics of substance and impact and gracefully communicates them with clarity and accuracy. Readers are afforded an incredible depth of understanding in each piece without the weight of traditional long-form pieces. One can’t help but feel smarter and more informed when reading these. Disciplined editing of multimedia assets show a maturity for digital storytelling and presentation that is in an elite class. Art direction ranging from typographic style to effective illustration strike resonant chords with the overall design experience.
SND39 | Best of Digital Design
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.