Tuesday, June 5, 2007

CNN.com Redesign Cares About Your Current and Future News Experience

Tucked away in the "Latest News" section on CNN's home page is a link to preview their upcoming redesign. I've recently blogged about how AOL.com has done something similar and how ABCNews.com didn't. CNN has invested a lot in this, and is really going out of their way to make sure

Here are some of the things they've done to properly set the users expectations for the upcoming change:

The message from the General Manager is very similar to that of the ABCNews message. Words and phrases such as "easy to use," "simple" and "clean." Let's see if CNN's definition of simple is in line with what customers define as simple. They are really going out of their way though to get feedback. Check out this large banner on the BETA site:

They seem to have a good feedback mechanism implemented via OpinionLab.

You can submit a comment by type (error, suggestion, complaint, compliment, etc.), rate any page on the BETA site and specifically rate the home page. This looks like they will be easily manage good quantitative feedback, while also providing a place for more free form commentary.

One bad thing about the redesign. On the surface, it doesn’t look like CNN is providing better winnowing tools for the home page. In fact, when I did a count of the links on the BETA site, there are 72 less links than the current home page (185 on BETA vs. 257 on current). While ABCNews.com visually shrunk the size of the page, CNN.com has done the same thing to a much lesser degree. There was a lot of negative feedback on the ABCNews.com redesign that pointed out how online news website customers really liked to quickly scan around the page to find something to read. Although this may tend to make the page look "busy" customers defined the ease of use here as making it feel "simple" to work with. Feedback on how customers like to winnow is posted on comments section of the CNN BETA blog:

Your "more news" section has deleted some topics (e.g. "science") that are now on the bottom of the first page. I scan the bottom of the first page regularly for news stories and would not like to have its scope diminished.
An interesting new component is the "We Recommend" section which "follows your interests by checking out what We Recommend for you based on the type of stories you've been reading and viewing."

Throughout the BETA site there are a lot of nice AJAX-y components that has "folded up" content that doesn't require a page refresh to display. There also seems to be a lot more "scent" scattered around the page for other stories I might want to read about.

I'm interested in seeing how this evolves, but I like how they are taking there time with deploying the new design and trying hard to set people's expectations. The letter from David Payne, SVP and General Manager states that "new initiatives will be launched over the next year." Stay tuned.

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