CNN is close to completing an overhaul of its website after publicly testing the new look.
For several weeks, the new CNN.com design has been published concurrently with the existing site at beta.cnn.com, which is no longer available. Using a blog, the redesign team explained elements of the new design and sought feedback from users.
CNN has made several modifications to the formatting of its videos and the design elements of the new site based on feedback from the beta testers, said Mitch Gelman, vice president and senior executive producer of CNN.com.
‘We tried to be very responsive to the feedback without being overly reactive,’said Gelman.
‘Instead of reacting to the people who loved or hated the design, we tried to respond to the patterns as to why those who love it, love it and why those who dislike it do so – and out of those patterns we tried to be responsive to the audience’s concerns.”
Video features heavily in the redesigned site, which widescreen (575×325 pixel) video clips. CNN has also abandoned Microsoft media format in favour of Flash video, which Gelman says is more assessable across browsers and allows more options for interactive multimedia features.
CNN has added live news video feeds and is abandoning its subscription-based video service, Pipeline, in favour of a free advertising-supported video news archive.
Nick Wrenn, CNN International’s managing editor for Europe, the Middle East and Africa said demand for online video clips had increased, particularly over the last three years.
‘We’ve got some terrific video – it’s what CNN does,’said Wrenn.
‘We want to show off as much of that as possible, and the changes we’re making will allow people to watch more video in a bigger screen,’he added.
CNN describes its new design as ‘story centric”, allowing the user to select whether to access each story using text, video or multimedia slideshow formats from a set of tabs on each story page. In the existing ‘flat’site, users have to open pop-up windows to see videos on text-centric story pages. Each story will also include posts obtained by the Sphere blog search engine.
“We’re encouraging the journalists to think very creatively about how people are – for want of a better word – consuming the story. Do they necessarily need to write 800 words when we’ve got some really compelling video which loads straight into the page and really tells that story? Or is there a really good blog that they can link to?”
The site will allow content localisation based on US postal codes. On the CNN International section of the site, localisation will be at the level of countries or some key cities, said Wrenn.
An automated categorisation system will allow users to find related content about people, places and topics, and will also be used to promote currently-popular topics to the site’s top-level navigation.
The new site is due to be launched on 1 July.