Friday, October 30, 2009

New CNN Site Did Your Web Design Homework, the country’s highest-traffic network news site, went live this week with a redesign that’s worth further study.

Not sure if it’s as “beautiful” and “visually arresting” as the CNN folks claim, but it definitely has a greater emphasis on images, video and easily digestible, modular content. Adweek says there’s a lot more interactive, social functionality, as well.

The redesign reflects an important step in CNN’s transition—from just an online iteration of a TV network, toward a distinct news site that takes advantage of the web’s unique capabilities. But good as the new site is, it isn’t by any stretch revolutionary. CNN’s really just following the lead of non-mainstream news sites such as The Daily Beast and Newser.

The difference? CNN is a big organization backed by an even larger corporate parent, Time Warner. The changes they’ve made are almost certainly driven and justified by thorough research. They’ve looked carefully at what the audience wants: a more custom user experience and greater involvement with the content. These results appear to validate the savvy design and social aspects of those alternative news sites.

That’s why it’s a good idea for all of us to pay attention. The new CNN shows that social functionality, quick-read convenience and interactive communication are now mainstream must-haves on the web.

OK, so your site won’t make Alexa’s top 500 anytime soon, but you can still benefit by deploying some of the best practices of those that do.

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