Late Saturday night, web browsers around the world reported sightings of a new website where an old haggard CNN.com used to be. These reports were confirmed by both the blogosphere in general as well by your friends at Elbowruminations. Most people thought it certainly was new — we thought it was new and it was good! Here are the highlights:
The interface is a fresh, de-cluttered look with generous amounts of white space and plenty of room for pictures. The headlines are prominent and bold, complete with story highlights in the form of bullet points to the right.
This gives readers the information they need and want quickly. Underneath the titles, your medium of choice is available in form of a text, video, and photos tab which is great for readers who dread mistakenly clicking on a video link and looking sheepish while clamoring for the volume control. The bulky fearsome side-menu has disappeared completely which makes the overall look-and-feel of the website much more approachable in general, and seemed to eliminate a seldom-used feature leftover from the days of web 1.0.
Fresh news is easily attainable and very visible. When news is breaking, a yellow bar on the top of the page announces it loudly and also gives you the option of closing it. This prevents you from being alarmed by old news headlines you might have already read. The yellow breaking news bar is a an improvement over the previous site’s lasting yellow headline that couldn’t help looking like an awkward messenger with uncertain news items.
Hot topics are listed along the top each page and they appear both relevant and truthfully popular. Each news item in the main headline section is listed with a timestamp if it has been posted under one hour ago. This is another great feature of drawing viewer’s attention to fresh content.
Interactivity, as is the current trend, is favorably featured on this site as well in the form of personalized weather, e-mail, save, and print functions in the top left corner of each page and on the bottom of each story. Recommendations, popular stories, and feedback options are everywhere.
Part way down each page you’ll find an ajaxy feature called “From the Blogs” which introduces other voices from different perspectives and sites. A daring move and a good one in terms of capturing all relevant sources in one place. Readers may reward CNN for doing this and dump other news outlets if they can get everything they want on CNN’s website.
Advertising is done discreetly and subtly. It’s well implemented into the design of the website and doesn’t assault you or confuse itself with the content.
Overall, this site is light on the eyes and heavy on the things that matter. Less means more in this case, as relevant on-demand content has been ratcheted up. Video and photos are found in abundance. Blogs and various other perspectives are easily available. Paired with good organization, news and current events have been happily married with web 2.0 theology.
This update is not only solid from a design perspective — in fact little has changed in terms of colours and layout, apart from the lovely rounded corners — however, CNN has shown great appreciation for the latest in internet technology in this launch, and is well positioned to be a powerful source for news delivery and the latest in online communication.
For more information on this launch and to check out other people’s reactions, drop by the CNN development blog, and a few others: