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5 Web Design Tips from the CNN.com Redesign


Aug. 26, 2013 8:00 am

Image courtesy of Fast Company
Want to know what a $15 million website redesign looks like?  CNN.com is planning to unveil their brand-new website in November, and they've tweaked the homepage, the mobile experience and the back-end of their website all in an effort to redefine readers' experience.

There are a number of tips from their major website overhaul that translate to any website--no matter the budget.

Be Responsive


More people are accessing the web via a mobile device everyday.  With faster phones and data streaming speeds, looking something up on the web is becoming a natural part of daily life.  Whether it's checking in on Facebook or researching area restaurants, mobile customers are a huge source of web traffic.

"Desktop [traffic] is flat. It's aging," KC Estenson, general manager of CNN.com said. "Mobile growth [is] off the chart."
Currently, CNN.com garners about 39% of their total traffic from mobile devices--a figure they expect will only increase.

Takeaway


Check your website stats.  What percent of total traffic is from a mobile device (phones and tablets)?  You may be surprised.  Now, check out your website on a few mobile devices.  What is the experience like?

Update Your Color Scheme


CNN.com is known for using the color red in their logo as making red a major player in their color palette.  The new design will maintain the red logo, but the color scheme will be darker and more dramatic.  Then, as news stories are more pressing and urgent, the colors change to become more urgent--a brighter background with a red headline.

Takeaway


Seriously revisit the colors used on your website.  How long have you been using them?  Is it time to introduce a new feeling or theme using color?  However, be sure to keep the brand consistent (aka - don't mess the logo unless you're looking to update it across the board).


Streamline the Back End


CNN.com is looking to make the process of adding a news story to their website easier and quicker for their contributors.  In addition, the process of publishing a story to the web and mobile devices will be streamlined.  Finally, readers can tag stories and recieve updates and view articles of a similar nature.

Takeaway


What current website features have become cumbersome or unenjoyable?  Is it due to a process that is too clunky or time consuming?  An update to the back end of a website is more costly, but the time, effort and tears saved may make the project entirely worthwhile.  


Big Photos


The new CNN.com will feature more photos.  And, the more pressing the news story, the larger the photos.

Takeaway


Web viewers are becoming more visual with websites like Pinterest capturing much of their time.  Is there an area of your website that could benefit from larger photos?  If your shutter skills are rusty or you rely on your smartphone for website imagery, it may be time to up your game.  Consider hiring a professional or honing your photography skills.  Either way, remember that a picture is worth 1,000 words.


Personalization

The ability to tag news stories is going to be huge.  If visitors to CNN.com tag a human interest story, the website will then suggest other, similar stories in an effort to make the website as personalized as possible.

Takeaway


Are there similar ways you can present a personal experience for your web visitors?  It can be as simple as an email suggesting similar products when a customer completes a purchase or as sophisticated as delivering content based on their viewing preferences.  Another way to personalize your brand is to respond to commenters on social media and blogs.

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No matter the budget, there are a number of lessons appropriate for any website in the $15 million redesign of CNN.com.  What are your thoughts?  We'd love for you to pop over to our Facebook page and fill us in!

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To read more about the CNN.com redesign, check out the following news stories:

Fast Company
Mashable
BrandChannel

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