2020 Categories and FAQ

The 42nd Edition Creative Competition: Best of Digital Design is a juried competition sponsored by the Society for 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.

Submissions open January 11, and will close Feb. 1. Watch a video about how to submit.

What’s new this year

We have revised categories for the types of work to be judged, based on interest from last year, and refined descriptions to better guide you on what to enter and where. We have added some to reflect the news of the year, including heath/coronavirus and U.S. presidential election. View all categories below.

World’s Best-Designed™: For your organization to be eligible for the award this year, please submit an entry in one of the following multiple-URL categories: Line of Coverage or Portfolio. Any medal-winning entries from these categories will then be considered for World’s Best-Designed™ finalists.

World’s Best Designer: For the first time this year, SND will recognize a World’s Best Designer and finalists, selected from medal-winning portfolio entries. To be eligible, please submit an entry in any of the multiple-URL portfolio categories for individual designers.

Best in Show: This year, judges will be asked to recognize Best in Show winners, from among qualified medal awards. For visual journalists who work in smaller newsrooms, Best of Show will offer separate awards based on organization size. To be eligible, enter one of the single-URL entries categories; be sure to report your organization’s size as part of the entry.

Portfolios: Must now include a minimum of four examples, and no more than six.

New entry portal: Award Force should be more effective and simpler to use. This platform allows for more ease of use for entrants, and you can save a profile so you do not have to resubmit contact details every time you submit a new entry.


Deadline

The new entry portal is now open: Submit entries here by Monday, February 1, 2021, at 11:30 p.m. (GMT –5). Judging will take place in late February.

The 42nd 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.

All entries must have been published between Jan. 1, 2020 and Dec. 31, 2020.

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.

Judging

Judging for all categories will take place in early 2021 and the results will be announced live. A team of more than a dozen 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. 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 translate the entry, if possible, 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 awards of excellence, bronzesilver 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.


Categories for 2020

Story Page Design (single URL)

  • Politics
  • International
  • National
  • Local Issues
  • Business/Finance, Technology & Transportation
  • Environment & Science
  • Health/Coronavirus
  • Sports
  • Arts, Entertainment, Food, Travel & Lifestyle
  • Gender/Identity & Social Issues
  • Protests
  • Other (for entries that do not fit one of the above)

Information Graphics (single URL)

  • Politics
  • International
  • National
  • Local Issues
  • Business/Finance, Technology & Transportation
  • Environment & Science
  • Health/Coronavirus
  • Sports
  • Arts/Entertainment, Food, Travel & Lifestyle
  • Gender/Identity & Social Issues
  • Protests
  • Other (for entries that do not fit one of the above)

Format (single URL)

  • Use of a single Original/Commissioned Illustration
  • Use of a multiple Original/Commissioned Illustrations
  • 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
  • Digital Magazine
  • Association trade or business-to-business publication

*May include trackers

Line of coverage (multiple URLs)

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

  • Breaking news*
  • U.S. presidential
  • Coronavirus
  • Protests
  • Climate change
  • Long-form series
  • Social media
  • Public service
  • Other (for entries that do not fit one of the above)

*For non-planned, quick-response coverage of natural disasters, accidents, mass violence, war, terrorism or issues of public order.

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

Product design

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. Can be a single URL but the entry fee for this category is priced a at the multiple-URL level.

  • Best home page or landing page
  • Best mobile app
  • Best newsletter design
  • Best new or redesigned product, site, page or app
  • Best storytelling, multimedia or interactive tools for readers or journalists

Experimental design

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. Can be a single URL but the entry fee for this category is priced a at the multiple-URL level.

Portfolio (multiple URLs)

Submit a portfolio of work for four to six 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.Think broadly about what could be included, but please do NOT submit a ‘Portfolio’ entry that could be entered in the ‘Line of Coverage’ categories.

  • Story Page Design (Individual)
  • Story Page Design (Staff or team)
  • Information Graphics (Individual)
  • Information Graphics (Staff or team)
  • Art direction (Individual)
  • Art Direction (Staff or team)
  • Combination, including any of the above or product (Individual)
  • Combination, including any of the above or product (Staff or team)
  • Breaking news
  • Social media
  • Student

World’s Best Digital 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.

Previously we encouraged individuals, teams, and organizations to nominate themselves or any worthy websites, apps, experiences and organizations, with an explanation of how the work has influenced digital design over the last year.

This year, entries from the portfolio categories will be eligible for consideration. Entries will be evaluated on overall excellence in design, including visual storytelling, use of resources, execution, photography, news judgment, headlines and voice. The winner should challenge the industry, stretching the notion of creativity visually and technically, and make a statement to the design community.


FAQ

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 translate the entry, if possible, 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?

To be determined, as the new entry portal is still being set up and tested.

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 us at [email protected]!


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
  • Mary Freda, The Times of Northwest Indiana Reporter
  • Jeremy Gilbert, Knight Chair in Digital Media Strategy at Medill
  • Brian Gross, Washington Post Deputy Design Director
  • Stephanie Hays, Seattle Times Designer
  • Yue Qiu, Bloomberg Graphics Team Leader
  • Sisi Wei, OpenNews Director of Programs