The Design for America Winners


The Design for America contest led to the most compelling, interesting visualizations of any of our contests. With about 72 entries, the design community stepped up and showed amazing ways for us to view government and imagine new ways for government to serve citizens.

The category most illustrative of how government could work is probably the best Redesign of a .Gov Website. We had a lot of great entries in the category– including this wonderful redesign of the Social Security Administration, and a great upgrade of, but the one that really took the cake was a redesign of This design was great not only because it was strikingly beautiful, but because it used imagination. It didn’t seem bound by what was currently on, but rather showed the viewer what the IRS could do. Amazing work.

howlawsmadeWIRTH2.jpg (2450×1207)The transformation of complex process into great imagery was also something we hoped for here at Sunlight. The “How A Bill Becomes a Law” category didn’t disappoint. Every entry in this category was amazing. The one that won in the end was the one that combined beauty with complexity. It’s beautiful, and too big to embed on this blog. But check out the whole thing. It’s amazing.

I have to say, the best illustration of the Senate Rules was my idea. I think it isn’t right that the rules are complex enough that it takes a person a lifetime to learn to really master. Ellen Miller, my boss, thought it was a terrible idea. The category got one entry, but that entry is really good. And even has a mobile version. It’s a great visualization of how the Senate actually works. So we’re fortunate that the only entry was a great one.

While it won nothing, a special honorable mention has to go to Regina Holliday. She took to the streets and painted great art with the Community health data. A real, actual, wonderful painting. While the judges didn’t select it, it deserves special mention. It’s beautiful and inspiring.

What did win the Health data challenge was County Sin Rankings which allows you to calculate how sinful your particular county is based on data from our nation’s health indicators. It’s by our old friends and multi-contest winner Forum One.

The Best Design of Sunlight Data ended up in a tie. The Cool Kids at the White House was a spectacular animated beautiful app, and Who Paid Them uses Java to allow people to investigate how money is influencing our Representatives.

An even tie also happened with data about US Spending. Is Washington Bankrupting America got a split vote from the judges, vs Pitch Interactive’s visualization of government contracts vs. media coverage in individual agencies.

Nicholas Felton picked Making A Full Recovery as the best visualization for Recovery data. The artwork gives people new views into the data from And Kevin Hale selected the US Passport Form redesign for the best redesign of a government form.

All in all, our winners were wonderful– each entry is a different vision of how government could be. Each entry either shows us how government could look or how government does work.

Thanks so much to Adobe for sponsoring our contest, along with our other sponsors, Google, Palantir, Techweb and O’Reilly. Working with them has been fantastic, and we really appreciate their longstanding support.