Sites were nominated by members and nonmembers through the Best of Digital Design entry site, self-nominated via the same site, and from the digital judging teams.
CNN.com’s redesign helped defined online journalism last year, experimenting with new and creative approaches to storytelling. The site makes excellent use of space – both above the scroll and below – with clear, effective columns using good hierarchy. It does a beautiful job of combining both important news and political coverage with our desire for the geeky and the playful and, of course, gossip. The site is one of the few with an outstanding mix of video, text and photos used in a way that doesn’t feel out of touch.
The CNN iPad app takes a cue from CNN.com, where a simple, grid-based structure drives its architecture and provides the user a simple, yet in-depth experience. But the iPad app takes it one step further. CNN didn’t rework a website as much as they considered the tablet as a new form. Gone are multiple menus and widgets. Under the hood, the developers worked hard at creating a rich experience for the typical Web 2.0 user with a broad use of multimedia, an easy capacity to share stories and multiple ways of viewing content.
iii. The Globe and Mail
This site’s design extends from the sophisticated, color-coded navigation users interact with to the strong, simple information architecture that underlies the entire site. The visual brand is always evident, even though each content sections’ front page manages to feel unique. The home page and section fronts are deliberate but not rigid, adapting well to the news of the day. The overall presentation feels modern, and it emphasizes the use of excellent typographic hierarchy. The attention to detail is so good that even the site map is useful.
The Guardian’s iPhone app utilizes its space effectively yet beautifully. Its stylized, color-coded sections are simple, but effective. The navigation makes perfect sense in this mobile form where space is at a premium. The Guardian iPhone app also showcases multimedia and galleries, giving these mediums space and relevancy in a way that other phone-based apps don’t even bother to approach.
This iPad app does more than just share National Public Radio’s news content, it transforms the experience of listening to news. Now users can program their own newscast, picking from NPR programs, and not restricted to a single day. This is much more than time-shifting —— it’s medium bending. NPR (and BottleRocket) worked with Apple’s user interface guidelines creating an app that is fairly intuitive and has advanced features. There are few visual ornamentations or typographical flourishes, but the app is still attractive and fun to use.
GOLD & BEST IN SHOW
The New York Times, Haiti Earthquake Coverage
The technical sophistication, range of disciplines and timeliness evident in the pieces makes this body of work the best of the competition. The Times created a steady stream of “>excellent interactive presentations of amazing photos, data and reporting. Even though these pieces were created on breaking news deadlines, quality was not sacrificed and creativity abounded. The presentation of photography was creative, innovative and perfectly executed. The sum total of this work was deeply touching and deeply immersive. It is the height of the use of technology in presenting journalism.
- Assessing the Damage in Haiti
- The Destruction in Port-au-Prince
- Scenes From A Ruined Boulevard
- A Closer Look at the Destruction
- All Coverage
JUDGES’ SPECIAL RECOGNITION
i. The New York Times, for its explanatory motion graphics
A consistent seamless blending of media to set a standard for explanatory visual journalism. The works demonstrate imperceptible transitions between and marriages of video, graphics, data visualization and expert analysis. This is across all subjects. In sports it ranged from a breakdown of Mariano Rivera’s cut fastball to an analysis of Lindsey Vonn’s Olympic gold-winning downhill run. In news, it was explanations of failure and escape from the Deepwater Horizon disaster. These pieces provide a rich, beautiful experience.
ii. NPR, for experimentation and eager embrace of new platforms
They have been smart in their mobile strategy while maintaining standards and identity. Their family of iPhone and iPad apps were designed with the user in mind, providing a rich relationship with every atom of NPR content. With an apparent self-awareness and an embrace of what they are good at — incredible audio story-telling — they established a way to serve their stories and shows on demand, wherever, whenever and however a user decides.
iii. Pictory, for its artful embrace of community-driven photo stories
Every note is pitch-perfect, starting from the request for submissions to the finished showcases. The editing is smart and the design is particularly thoughtful. Pictory has elevated the often-derided idea of “user-generated content” into an art form of collaboration.
iv. ProPublica, for defining the design language of data-driven news apps
From tracking states’ unemployment insurance and Wall Street’s credit default swaps to investigating pharmaceutical payouts and dialysis facilities, ProPublica has established a consistent set of expectations for a new breed of storytelling. Granular, permalinkable data, clear hierarchies, simple but effective visualization and transparent engagement with its readers and partner organizations underlie all these projects.
Jonathon Berlin, Chicago Tribune
Chris Clonts, St. Paul Pioneer Press
Tyson Evans, The New York Times
Danny Gawlowski, The Seattle Times
Jeremy Gilbert, Northwestern University
Jennifer Imes, The Indianapolis Star
Jason Luebke, Brandwidth
Ryan Mark, Chicago Tribune
Miranda Mulligan, BostonGlobe.com and Boston.com
Jennifer George-Palilonis, Ball State University
Yuri Victor, San Diego Union-Tribune
BEST OF DIGITAL DESIGN DIRECTORS
Jeremy Gilbert, Northwestern University
Ryan Sparrow, Ball State University
Judging was held in February 2011 at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.