Welcome to Best of Digital Design 2016

UPDATE: Because we have so many entries that come during the last day or two, we have decided to extend the deadline for this contest/entries. 

The new deadline is Friday, January 27, 2017 11:59 EST.

Wow. 2016. You pushed us hard. 

Welcome to the Society for News Design’s 16th annual Best of Digital Design Competition, highlighting some of the best digital stories and products of the busy, busy year of 2016.

Digital design is more than a publication’s use of typography, illustrations and graphics. This competition has pushed our judges to think about design in a different way – from a site’s speed to its usability to its use of multimedia in stories.

It’s also a moving target. When I took over the role of director of this competition, Flash graphics were all the rage and multimedia simply meant video. But today? Today a Flash graphic in an entry would almost certainly get it tossed and the term ‘multimedia’ is so generic that it has lost its meaning! The incredible work we saw last year is now almost just the baseline standard expectation of an entry for this year’s competition, which is the way that innovation and progress is supposed to work.

But don’t take our word on it, go look through the last few year’s work yourself. You can find that archive here. Bookmark it. Share it. Study it and learn from it.

We’ve taken a long, hard look at our categories and revised them. What made sense when we last changed the categories were starting to look a bit out-of-date.

New categories:
  • Motion graphics and social media graphics – We’ve had people asking about these two in past years but didn’t feel the time was right to make them their own categories. 2016 changed that. Publications from across the news spectrum have really been doing some incredible visual storytelling with their motion graphics this year. 2016 was also the year that designers seemingly got a seat at the social media desk.
  • Social media strategy – And speaking of social media, we’ve added a new category in the portfolio group – Social media strategy. We’re looking at how your publication has created a visual style or specific way you are using the various social media platforms.
  • Products and experimental design – There have been a variety of entries from year’s past that didn’t feel like there was really a category for it – whether that was spotlighting a publication’s internal tools, a particularly innovative user interface design or something embracing new technologies like wearables or bots. These two new categories hopefully fixes that.

And because there will surely be many entries for them, we’ve got specific categories for the Refugee Crisis, the Summer Olympic Games and the U.S. Elections. You can check out all of the new, revised and still-standing categories for this year’s competition here.

As always, keeping up with all of the variables that come along with the different entries is sometimes hard. Even knowing what should be in your entry can be difficult. How do you show judges in February what your entry that embraced using live data looked like to readers in November? We understand these problems. Please do your best to give us as much as you can so that we can experience each entry as a reader might have.

If you have any questions about this or any other aspect of the competition, please feel free to email us at snd.digital.comp@gmail.com.

Some dates to keep in mind.

Entries are due by Wednesday, January 25 at 11:59 EST. The new deadline is Friday, January 27, 11:59 PM EST. Judging will take place during the weekend of February 24-26. We’ll be using the hashtag SNDDigital so follow along as we tweet the results throughout the weekend.

And as always, good luck!

Ryan Sparrow and Jeremy Gilbert
Co-coordinators, Best of Digital Design Competition
Society for News Design