SSND DAY #2 : Digital Categories


SSND officers with digital judges, Mike Swartz (left 3): Partner, Upstatement, Seth Hamblin(left 4): Deputy Global Visual Editor and The Wall Street Journal, Juan Velasco(left 5): Co-founder and creative director of 5W Infographics and former Art Director at National Geographic magazine

We just finished up the final judging rounds of the 2015 SSND Competition with the remaining six digital categories! With a new panel of judges and computers and Ipads galore lining the outskirts of the room, the judges carefully analyzed every entry. We saw a range of work, all which were impressive to the judges and stirred some great discussion.

We started off the morning with:

Overall News Website B1


The first entry was the Fairfield Mirror Vision which the judges found engaging, easy to navigate and scrolled in nice way. They commented on liking the social media built into the interface.

They noticed that this lay-out was a ‘pretty off-the-shelf theme’ similar to wordpress with not a ton of customization.


Next, was the Vanderbilt Hustler. They noticed the large banner at the top of the page right away and commented that that was a ‘tough thing to hold to. The commended producing the site seamlessly but would like to see more standardization especially across aspect ratios and more control over the user experience.


The  SCAD Connector was viewed next.


They commented on the more of a stream approach and more modern way of doing things with the continuous scroll— they really liked that.

The judged also commended this publication for doing some different stuff with color and trending modules being the same as the theme. “They chose a theme and kind of combined it with some unique stuff”

Next,  they viewed the Statesman and immediately called it  “interesting”

The commented on headlines get lost, but commended the building of their own theme and the design choices around it. ‘This site is authentic to the process’ commented one of the judges.

One critique that kept coming up was that this site is not responsive which is important and good next step for this publication.


Fnewsmagazine was the last entry.

They loved the use of illustrations with a lot with photos but the art direction felt visually all over the place at times. They would’ve liked to see a better use of whitespace as well.

not a good use of whitespace— nice illustrations.


Overall the judges loved the original design choices, and among the borrowed themes, there were a few that used it well!

1st — Fairfield Statesman

3rd — Scad Connector

Honorable Mention –F NewsMagazine


Mini-site/special section of a news website B2


There was a lot of discussion among the judges what this category really means based on the variety of entries.

They judges commented on all of the great photo content and awesome video and gallery content as well. They found that a few of the entries struggled with a design and visual hierarchy. In contrast, they commented on how many of these entries were very well art directed!

1st — Vox, Ciera Velarde

2nd— Syracuse, MacKenzie Dunsmoor

Honorable Mention — Vox, Atiya Abbas

Interactive or Animated Infographic B3

This was our most competitive category with the widest variety of entries. The biggest comment that the judges expressed often was the importance of good graphics paired with a good story. They say a lot of amazing designs but that connection with the story was very important in the final considerations.


1st– UNC- Chapel Hill

2nd– Northwestern

Honorable Mention– Saint Joseph’s University

Video or Multimedia Project B4


This category also had quite a bit of variety with more long-form package entries and stand alone videos. The divide was clear between the bigger projects and the smalelr projects with depth of story telling but the judges found the art direction exceptional in some of the smaller entries.

1st –




News Products Appearing on Other Digital Platforms ( ipad, android, iphone) B5

Many of these entries felt very static to the judges who were looking for responsiveness and interactivity in these designs. There is an importance to catering to the platform and not just putting what you print on the web in the same design. There were many issues with poor typography and general visual design that the judges emphasized. Interactivity and attention to detail is important and was the reason that the following entries advanced to the award level.

1– Syracuse, Bellwethr

2– Michigan St University, Glyph

Honorable Mention —University of Missouri,  Vox,


Redesigning of a News Website B6

Stony Brook University, The Statesman

The judges really commend the process of this winning entry and the job well done on this to redesign. “The old site was really bad, but they did some amazing work with this redesign. They did a good thing building in themselves. Now they just have to make it responsive, said one of the judges.


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