2019 categories and FAQ

The 41st Edition Creative Competition: Best of Digital Design is a juried competition sponsored by the Society of News Design to recognize journalistic excellence in storytelling, graphics, social media and product design. The goal of the contest is to identify the best of journalism that pushes the boundaries of design and technology. By submitting, you help define the state of the art for our industry and all storytellers.

What’s new this year

We have revised categories for the types of work to be judged, based on the interest from last year, and refined descriptions to better guide you on what to enter and where. We also simplified the pricing structure. We’ll have the same entry portal, which greatly improved the process last year. And again, you will receive receipts and better documentation of your entries for your own records, not to mention assurance that the entry has been received.

Deadline

Entries must be submitted here by Monday, January 27, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. (GMT -5). Judging will begin the following week, therefore there will be NO extension of the deadline. The 41st Edition SND Digital Design competition is open to all media publications. You do not need to be a member of SND to participate in the contest. Enter here beginning Jan. 1. All entries must have been published between Jan. 1, 2019 and Dec. 31, 2019.

Pricing

Single-URL category submission fees are $25. Multiple-URL category submission fees are $40. Student submission fees are $5 for single-URL entries and $10 for multiple-URL entries. It is always FREE to enter the World’s Best Designed News Experience category.

Judging

Judging for all categories will take place in early 2020 and the results will be announced by the 2020 SND Workshop from April 5-6 in Washington D.C. A team of judges selected by SND will evaluate each entry on how well it accomplishes its editorial and design objectives. The Digital Design Competition Committee selects judges for these awards. Judges for the competition are journalism, new media and design experts from around the world. There are about 12-17 judges. If judges have any apparent conflicts of interest on particular entries, they will not be assigned to evaluate those entries.

Entries

When submitting entries, it’s important to remember that technology continues to evolve with this competition, and submitting a URL does not always give judges a complete impression of how your site/product/story felt to the reader. In other words, we want to experience your entry as a reader would have experienced it. If the site had live aspects, show us a video of it in play. If we are comparing redesigns, before/after images are necessary and if judges need specific hardware to view the story, please say so. The judges understand this tricky dilemma and will look at an assortment of materials before making their decisions. The key is always going to be overall user/reader experience. For non-English entries, give a thorough summary of the story/project in English. SND will try to have a translator if needed, but the more information you give judges about the story and how to navigate the experience, the better. Some organizations have submitted an English language version of their work alongside the original. The competition retains the right to move an entry into another category if they think it would fair better in another category or disqualify an entry if it fails to meet the rules.

Awards

Winning entries will receive bronze, silver or gold medals for outstanding work, pushing the boundaries of design and technology and helping define the state of the art for the industry. See all previous results including World’s Best-Designed, medal winners and portfolios at the Best of Digital Design site.


Facilitators

Want to get an up-close look at what is defines the state of the art in our industry? Spend three days immersed with the best digital design in the world, helping as facilitators at the SND digital judging in D.C. in February. You’ll listen to passionate conversations around what deserves this recognition and work behind the scenes with a small group of dedicated volunteers. You must commit to full three days, Feb. 6-8. Roles include taking detailed notes of medal discussions, cataloguing, compiling and posting results and promoting winners and other live coverage on social medals. Ideal candidates live in the D.C. area; SND provides meals but any out-of-town volunteers pay for and arrange their own travel and lodging (some organizations may cover the cost because of the experience and exposure to information, insight and ideas). Slots are limited (six max) so email [email protected] before Jan. 15 if interested. Volunteers will be accepted until space is filled. Please put “SND41 Volunteer” in the subject line. The email should include:

  • First and last name
  • Current place of work
  • Job title
  • Languages read and/or spoken
  • If you have attended judging before (as a judge or facilitator)
  • Preferred email
  • Preferred phone numbers
  • Whether you are an SND member (if not a member, consider joining SND here.)

Categories

1. World’s Best-DesignedDigital News Experience
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.
We encourage individuals, teams, and organizations to nominate themselves or any worthy websites, apps, experiences and organizations. When submitting, make sure to explain how the work has influenced digital design over the last year. The best entries should challenge the industry, stretching the notion of creativity visually and technically. Winners should make a statement to the design community.To encourage the widest field and most diversity of entries, it is FREE to submit World’s Best entries. Think broadly about what could be included.

2. Story Page Design (single URL)

  • Breaking news*
  • International
  • National
  • Local Issues
  • Business/Finance, Technology & Transportation
  • Environment, Health & Science
  • Sports
  • Arts, Entertainment, Food, Travel & Lifestyle
  • Gender/Identity & Social Issues
  • Public interest/Editor’s Choice (Other)

*These entries are produced for breaking news or special events like natural disasters, accidents, crime, war, terrorism and issues of public order. This category is for work done on a daily or same-day basis about a topic that could NOT be planned.

3. Information Graphics (single URL)

  • Breaking news*
  • International
  • National
  • Local Issues
  • Business/Finance, Technology & Transportation
  • Environment, Health & Science
  • Sports
  • Arts/Entertainment, Food, Travel & Lifestyle
  • Gender/Identity & Social Issues
  • Public interest/Editor’s Choice (other)

*The focal point of these entries are graphics or the combination of data and graphics produced for breaking news or special events like natural disasters, accidents, crime, war, terrorism and issues of public order. This category is for work done on daily or same-day basis about a topic that could NOT be planned.

4. Format (single URL)

  • Use of Original/Commissioned Illustration
  • Use of Video in Digital Storytelling/Infographics/Social Media
  • Use of Audio in Digital Storytelling/Infographics/Social Media
  • Use of Photography or Photo Story
  • Use of Animation
  • Augmented/Virtual Reality storytelling
  • Use of Maps
  • Use of Data
  • Social Media Design
  • Newsletter storytelling
  • Best of Show mobile storytelling (new)*

*For mobile-first design or best adaptation for the format. New this year: Judges will award a Best in Show for the most innovative example of storytelling designed for experience on mobile devices. Enter in this category for consideration.

5. Line of coverage (multiple URLs)

Submit any combination of story page, information graphics, social media and product design pieces.

  • Breaking news/disasters/mass violence
  • Mueller report/impeachment
  • U.S. presidential
  • Climate change
  • Immigration
  • Women’s World Cup
  • Sports
  • Long-form series
  • Social media design*
  • Public interest/Editor’s choice (other)

*For stories told on social media. Examples: Twitter thread, Instagram stories, Snapchat. Submit the URLs or files from any social media platform (no more than five examples).

6. Product design (multiple URLs)

Submit work that demonstrates the use of thoughtful or innovative design experiences concentrating on user experience or user interface design. This could include newsletters, native apps, special sections, internal tools, design systems or experimental categories. These can be submitted as screenshots, a URL or a URL to a download page. In other words, please supply us with the materials you think are needed to explain this entry in the best way possible. For redesigns, please include before and after examples.

  • Best home page
  • Best landing page
  • Best live updates experience
  • Best vertical or blog
  • Best mobile app
  • Best newsletter design
  • Best new or redesigned product, site or app
  • Best storytelling, multimedia or interactive tools for journalist or readers

7. Experimental design (single URL)

Submit work that does not fit other categories. Do you have a product that doesn’t necessarily fit with these categories? Did you create something for virtual reality or a wearable product this year? Please submit anything you can to show us your work. This could include a URL to a download page or a video showing it in use. Please include as much pertinent information as possible to give judges the best opportunity to see your work how a reader/viewer would see it.

8. Portfolio (multiple URLs)

Submit a portfolio of work for three to eight URLs. An ‘Individual’ portfolio should be designed primarily by a single submitter. An ‘Organizational’ portfolio should be designed by different people as a staff effort. You may enter more than one ‘Organizational’ portfolio. Please do NOT submit a ‘Portfolio’ entry that could be entered in the ‘Line of Coverage’ categories.

  • Story Page Design (Individual)
  • Story Page Design (Organization)
  • Information Graphics (Individual)
  • Information Graphics (Organization
  • Social Media Cards or Stories (Individual)
  • Social Media Cards or Stories (Individual)
  • Art direction (Individual)
  • Art Direction (Organization)
  • Combination including any of the above (Individual)
  • Combination including any of the above (Organization)
  • Student (Individual)
  • Student (Organization)
  • Product design (Organization)

 


Frequently asked questions

What if I don’t have a URL for my entry? When submitting entries, it’s important to remember that technology continues to evolve with this competition, and submitting a URL does not always give judges a complete impression of how your site/product/story felt to the reader. In other words, we want to experience your entry as a reader would have experienced it. If the site had live aspects, show us a video of it in play. If we are comparing redesigns, before/after images are necessary and if judges need specific hardware to view the story, please say so. The judges understand this tricky dilemma and will look at an assortment of materials before making their decisions. The key is always going to be overall user/reader experience.

What if my entry is not in English? For non-English entries, give a thorough summary of the story/project in English. SND will try to have a translator if needed, but the more information you give judges about the story and how to navigate the experience, the better. Some organizations have submitted an English language version of their work alongside the original.

What is the difference between single and multiple URL entries? To simplify the entry process, this year categories were aligned so that single pages would be grouped together, while categories that require multiple entries (and more time for judging) were grouped as “line of coverage” and special events. Remember that judges will evaluate multiple URLs as well as portfolio submissions on the strength of the entire package. Be selective and enter your strongest pieces.

Do I need to be a member of SND to enter? No, the competition is open to everyone.

What is the Federal tax ID number for SND? 23-2129331

What happens if I want to modify my entry? After submitting, you will receive an email from Screendoor that allows you to submit modifications for your submission. Or email [email protected] for help.

What will get my entry disqualified? Reasons for disqualification include: Duplicate entries in the same category, incomplete entry forms, not following directions for categories. Judges reserve the right to move a submission if they determine it was not entered in the correct category.

How to reach us: Email the competition committee at [email protected]


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

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.

Helpful links:  Find out results at snd.org and check for updates on Twitter and Instagram.


SND Best of Digital Design Competition Committee

  • Ryan Sparrow, Ball State University and SND Executive Committee Programs representative
  • Anna Boone, Star Tribune Digital Designer
  • Heather Donahue, ESPN.com 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.