a leading force, while in March USA Today announced a re-design. Also we covered Martha Stewart 2.0 in April. Now it's CNN's turn. One of the leading mainstream news operations in the world, CNN is this weekend re-launching its website as an enhanced multimedia site - packed with web 2.0 features such as recommendations and user generated content.Over the past year or so we've seen many mainstream publications 'web 2.0-ize' their web presence. BBC has been
The new site officially launches on Sunday, July 1 - although the whsiper is that it might go-live sometime Saturday. Read/WriteWeb was given a sneak peak of the new site and we came away very impressed.
The new CNN.com features a big increase in multimedia, including live video content that was previously only available via the subscription-only CNN Pipeline. It is also now in Flash, rather than Windows Media format. That video content has been integrated into the main site and is available for free. CNN has beefed up its content with that web 2.0 favorite, "user-generated content". Also there is a recommendation feature called "We Recommend" - which is based on past browsing.
The new CNN.com also makes great use of Ajax, which as the Bivings Report noted, reduces page loading and so is "a baby step away from the page view advertising model."
In summary, the new features are:
- "Integrated multimedia storytelling" - i.e. text, videos, photos, maps, charts and more on one page. The multimedia is put into tabbed sections, so that users can easily access each part;
- CNN claims it offers "the Web’s largest news video offering – both live and on-demand"; I am not sure how to verify this, but in any case this video is free of charge and streams (rather than downloads);
- CNN is launching a new on-demand video player, offering "a Flash-based, play-in-page experience complete with larger and higher quality video and tools to create play lists and provide feedback.";
- A live player provides access to up to four live video streams, one of them featuring CNN.com-exclusive news anchors – which CNN says is "the only offering of its kind on the Web";
- “Hot Topics” section for in-depth multi-media content;
- “All About” pages - thousands of pages giving users access to every story CNN.com has ever published on almost any topic;
- Locally relevant content, allowing users to personalize CNN.com to offer enhanced weather forecasts. This content comes from various sources and content-sharing relationships;
- “We Recommend” feature, recommending stories and videos from CNN.com and other content partners based on the user’s past browsing history;
- Highlights at the top of every article and fact boxes throughout the page "to enable users to scan and digest story details quickly.";
- More ways for users to engage in news through feedback, content submissions with I-Report and article and blog commentaries;
- “From the Blogs” feature, which aggregates comments from blogs around the Web discussing either a specific story or topics related to one published on CNN.com;
- More TV promotion on the site "to improve the complementarity of CNN’s TV and online services".
Did someone say 'web 2.0'? We got blogs, podcasts, ...
CNN.com currently gets an average of more than 24 million unique users each month. The site was launched in 1995, and this re-design represents a big step forward for the 12-year old site. A CNN representative told us that CNN.com has been completely redeveloped - both graphically and technically. Its goal was to present integrated storytelling, using multimedia (especially video) and the web 2.0 aspects that R/WW readers are familiar with - user generated content, recommendations, related content, blogs, etc.
A CNN blog has been covering the re-design and also there was a beta version of the new CNN.com running for a while - but it was taken offline on Tuesday June 26, so that CNN could make the final changes. In a blog post entitled How it all works, CNN staff explained that "from a technology standpoint, the biggest shift in the new CNN.com is the inclusion of more dynamic services", such as personalization and the "We Recommend" feature described above.
We took a look at the beta while it was up and came away impressed with the changes. The new CNN.com ties video in a lot better - no more annoying popups. The main articles now have video and image tabs on top, so that you can easily view related media. Also the video is now in Flash format, unlike the Windows Media format on the current CNN. We thought the beta was definitely an improvement design wise - it is a lot easier on the eyes. Add that to the new 'web 2.0' functionality - such as story recommendation based on past browsing (kind of like Amazon for news!). Overall we think this is a big improvement on the old site.
The new CNN.com will go live either Saturday or Sunday, so check it out and let us know your thoughts.
New site, due to go-live 1 July 2007