CNN has rolled out a major redesign for CNN.com earlier last week, on Monday, 26th of October. The redesign is a strategical step on CNN’s part to improve their famous online portal (which is one of the most trafficked websites on the web) to match the latest Web trends and deliver news in better and more efficient way.
We, here at thoughtpick, decided to go over the new design and provide you with what we think CNN did well, and where it went wrong; it’s simply my opinion as a Web interface specialist:
1. Pro: Focus on Video news rather than text news
In the new design CNN focuses on video news more than text news, which is understandable considering that they have always been mainly a TV news channel. The new design of the website does this smartly by having a video frame of a decent size (416px x 234 px) at the center of their home page to catch the attention of the site visitors the minute they arrive.
In addition to that, under the main video they show some thumbnails of their most recent video highlights which provides easy and fast access to their recent videos.
2. Con: Big header taking a lot of space
The header of the new website is a little bit larger than it should be. While it looks clean, very presentable and gives their logo its right, I think that there is a lot of wasted space that could have been utilized in a different way (maybe they can move their polls into this section?). In terms of a website in general and a home page in particular, that is considered very precious space!
3. Pro: Excellent handle for advertisements
They handle the advertisements of the website in a smart way. They have a decent size block of advertisement at the right side of their main video. It is always there as a part of the website itself, it does look neat without feeling intrusive. They point out that this section is for advertisement with a small word under the block. They also add some advertisement videos among their editor’s choice videos in a respectful way without forcing it,in anyway, on their site visitors.
4. Con: Headlines need more spacing
The left side section is dedicated for latest news, the main current news is highlighted with an image and some brief description and the remaining news headlines are listed with their headers only in a bullet list. While the location and order of the latest news section are good, the spacing between the headlines is not. They feel dense and not easy to read. I would recommend fewer headlines to be shown with some more decent spacing between the headlines, and maybe a different font or a slightly larger one.
5. Con: Subsections could be accessed directly from the menu
The different subsections of CNN.com are now highlighted in elegant boxes right below the Editor’s choice videos; they show headlines of the most recent news stories. They look good, but they are not visible when you first enter the site; you have to scroll down in order to see that they exist! It is kind of annoying to keep scrolling up/down the homepage to figure out all what they have to offer.
I would recommend they leave the sections as they are, but also to provide the same highlights with the top navigation menu. It can simply be applied by having drop menu items upon hovering on the main menu items. This way, the entire sections of CNN can be accessed from one window and without the need to scroll. Like the latest news section, headlines should also have better spacing and maybe a different or larger font to be more readable.
6. Con: NewsPulse’s layout can be improved
CNN.com introduces News Pulse which is a smart way to build a community around their website and engage people in the news. You have to sign in and register an account in order to comment and engage in discussions. It is not clear how they measure the popularity of their News Pulse, as the voting for stories is not allowed when you are not signed in. I tried to create an account to myself, the process sounded fast and simple, but didn’t work! There seems to be a problem with their submit button! Maybe they haven’t activate it yet?
It is a good idea that they show today’s most popular stories of the News Pulse at the right side of their home page, but I don’t like the visualization of the popular news. They use red bars that reflect the amount of buzz around a story, the larger number of bars, the more popular a story is. I think that it could have been done in a better way by using numbers instead of bars so that people can know exactly how many other people recommended a story, with the bars, you just get an idea.
When you go to the News Pulse section, you find the news stories listed in a tabular format and sorted top down from the most popular to the least. There are different columns: “Show me” which shows the category of news for you to pick among, “Popularity” which shows the amount of buzz around a story (red bars), “News” which shows a picture and the header of the news, “Updated” which shows the last time the story has been updates, and “Comments” which shows the number of comments added to a the story.
- I find it weird that the number of comments doesn’t link to the comments section of the specific story! That is a navigational shortage.
- I also find it odd how the stories in the News column expand to show some brief description when you click on the header. It suddenly spans the column into 3, the news picture becomes larger, and a link to the full story appears under the comments column! I would recommend to add the brief description (excerpt) from the beginning, and take the users to the story directly when they click on the headers. That would save users time and trouble.
CNN has been one of the major sources of news for the entire world for ages now; they have always had a decent online presence, and now they have a great new design that we applaud for. I believe that it can even be better with the points mentioned above.
What do you think of the new CNN.com design? Do you have any comments yourself? Do you see it can be better in a way or another? Please let us know your opinion in the comment section.