CNN.com, one of the top 25 websites in the US, just announced a radical redesign of its service at a press event in New York City. The new CNN.com homepage will be split up into three parts. On the left, CNN will now highlight breaking news stories, the middle section will feature older stories and a 'highlights' section, and the right sidebar will be customizable with personalized weather and sports scores. Right beneath the fold, the new CNN will feature a list of 'editor's choice' stories - similar to the NYTimes's 'Inside NYTimes.com' section. The new site will go live next Monday.
According to CNN's General Manager of CNN.com Kenneth Estenson, CNN.com currently gets about 1.7 billion page views and 100 million video views every month. In total the CNN homepage has been called up over 120 billion times since its first iteration in 1996.
CNN clearly put a lot of thought into this redesign. As William Hsu, CNN's VP for News Advertising Sales for Asia Pacific told Exchange4media.com earlier this week, the CNN team "did a lot of research, biometric research, in Europe" (update: a CNN spokesperson just told us that this study was done independent of the site redesign). According to Hsu, these studies showed that very few users ever went beyond the current homepage. Because of this, the new homepage will show far more content but will also make it easier for readers to navigate the site.
More Emphasis on Video - Including Videos from TED
At today's press event, CNN also stressed that the new site will integrate more of its TV product. Instead of keeping video and text separate, the new CNN.com will bring the two together. 50% of CNN's users already watch both the video and read the story, so bringing the two closer together is a smart move for CNN. CNN also announced a partnership with TED, which will bring TED videos to a completely new audience.
The new homepage will also have a new feature called 'NewsPulse.' This will allow users to reorganize news stories by correspondent, subject, or keyword. Today's press event was low on specifics, but this looks like a good way to personalize CNN's homepage and to find interesting content on the site.
Similarity to CNN Go
CNN also recently launched CNN Go, which focuses on news for the Asian market and also has a more magazine-like layout.
What About the Competition?
We have also heard that MSNBC will soon launch a redesign of its own. While we aren't aware of any specifics yet, the new MSNBC will focus on adding value to news wire stories by bringing together more material from NBC's affiliates and a larger focus on interactive elements designed specifically for MSNBC.