Monday, June 25, 2007
CNN.com is going to update their website this coming weekend. I stumbled upon their beta site yesterday and was planning to write a design commentary today, but the beta is over and the page now redirects to their web design blog. Oh well.
Apparently it's been up since the beginning of June, and a number of sites have already reviewed it. At the time I am writing this, there is still a guided tour available, too.
I really like the new design. The overall look has been simplified and streamlined, and there is a more consistent use of color across the site. Gone are the gradients galore in menus and buttons. Distinct sections of the pages are more clearly defined as well. From a technology standpoint, the site makes heavy use of Ajax and cleanly integrates video into the site, a step up from their old pop-up solution, which was just awful. Video will also be entirely free now (though ad-crippled).
Users will be able to customize their pages somewhat, but only in regards to localization... at first. The compartmentalization of the various page components hints that they might be moving toward a more Yahoo-like portal environment.
CNN's approach to the creation of the new site is also encouraging. The beta was plastered with feedback links, and the blog actively sought comments from users. Though not exactly collaborative design, for such a high-profile site like CNN.com to actively solicit user feedback is a good sign of things to come.
[Update 6/30]: It went live today. The front page was so intuitive, I didn't even realize it had been refreshed for a minute!