The new CNN.com

Brittany Storoz

CNN launched its new site on Saturday, Oct. 24, which features advanced personalization, a new design and ‘Newspulse’, a tool that allows users to keep up with popular news in select categories. Redesigning a site as expansive and heavily trafficked as CNN.com is no easy task, so it’s expected there will be some technical difficulties as well as user complaints about the change.

Even slight changes to a site that is so comfortably broken in can disrupt a user’s routine. Expecting to disprove of many changes, I was surprised when I easily found news I was interested in, and was able to utilize Newspulse with no problems.  For the first several days I hadn’t noticed any technical difficulties, until accessing the site on different computers.  The top half occasionally showed up blank, but it was nothing that a refresh or two wouldn’t solve.

While the CNN web team faced the typical challenges of creating something visually pleasing, user-friendly and easily accessible, its biggest challenge was to accomplish all of these feats without sacrificing the site’s journalistic facets.

My one complaint, which seems to be standard for many CNN.com users, came in this exact area.  Where is the big news?  The front page greets users with a large, centered feature video which is clearly not the most important. The headline news is off to the left, in a column about half the size of the video and highlights feature.  While this is a huge design error for a news site, it also comes with an easy fix.  Keeping the headline on the left-hand side will maintain user’s previous orientation of looking to the left for the important news (as seen in the previous version of CNN.com).  Increasing the width and header size of the latest news column, and decreasing the width from the center video and highlights column will bring the important, current news to the user’s eye first.

As of now, there is too much emphasis on video, which hardly ever contains the most important news that users are looking for.  This is also obvious in the top navigation.  Video is made a separate link, along with ‘Home’ and ‘Newspulse’ that are segmented from the general news categories.  Probably not vital to have it here.  It’s understandable that video doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the news categories, but to make it seem more important than the news is slightly misleading.

The main content fits nicely above the scroll, and content beyond the scroll acts as a useful supplement for the top navigation.  The news departments linked on the top navigation are all laid out below the scroll on the main page, with the latest news in each department. The right sidebar is also utilized effectively, alternating advertisements with additional CNN content that is not vital for users to take advantage of.

The transition has been relatively smooth so far, and CNN has been collecting feedback from users on a company blog as well as a feedback form linked on each page. Site redesigned are typically met with quite a bit of criticism, but this is nothing CNN hasn’t seen before, having undergone several redesigns since its beginning.

So how has CNN changed over the years?  Here’s a look:

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