CNN is planning to relaunch its main news site in July with a major redesign and a number of Web 2.0 features, extending the site’s choice of video and user-generated content.
Its new site (currently in beta) allows users to see multiple aspects of big news stories on a single page, which is what the company calls ‘integrated storytelling’.
So, alongside a big news story, users can read the text article, watch related video and access photos, maps and charts by navigating between tabs. Related blog posts and user comments are also displayed on the same page.
CNN has also increased the amount of video content on offer, with videos embedded into relevant news items. In addition, on-demand and live CNN videos are available. According to CNN, this is the largest line-up of news video on the web.
The video player has been improved, with videos playing on the page in a larger size player, rather than a pop-up window:
It is also removing its Pipeline subscription video platform, so all video content will be free on the site, though CNN will run ads with the videos.
User-generated content is given more emphasis in the redesign – CNN will allow user comments on news stories, as well as encouraging user submissions of news and video through its I-Report section.
One interesting thing is the ‘We Recommend’ feature, which provides suggested articles and videos from CNN and its content partners based on each users browsing history.
CNN.com currently has more than 29m unique users a month though, with the use of Ajax throughout the site, CNN’s pageview figures may well suffer, as users can change content without loading a new page.
A number of news sites have been embracing UGC recently – while the New York Times allows comments only on third party sites, others have been bolder.
In the UK, The Guardian, Sun, and Daily Mail all allow user comments – some just in separate blog sections, others directly on homepage stories, which makes much more sense.
The use of UGC makes sense for a number of reasons – increased reader loyalty, pageviews, session times, and gives users more reasons to return to the site, as they become involved in debates with other users.
All in all, CNN has made a good job of the site redesign, the addition of UGC makes sense, while the presentation of video and improved navigation makes for a much improved user experience on the site.