Get Ready for CNN/Next
By Tara Smith
CNN.com is already one of the world's leading digital news brands, and it's about to get even more compelling.
Yesterday, in a preview event at the Time Warner Medialab in New York, CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker announced CNN's plans to roll out CNN/Next, over the next few months. It's a comprehensive overhaul that will integrate programming across the network's digital platforms - its most sweeping changes in over a decade.
One of the most noticeable changes will be a live video news feed on CNN.com. Zucker shared that CNN will be the first and only network to have its domestic news coverage streaming live to the homepage. The feed will be available daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET, with the option to authenticate and watch in a larger browser with audio.
CNN/Next will not only feature a redesigned front-end aesthetic for the 70 million unique visitors per month who go to CNN.com and 38 million people who have downloaded the app to date (it also has the largest following of any news organization on Twitter and Facebook), but a complete reworking of the site's infrastructure.
"The front end is redesigned. The backend is completely overhauled. It is a total rebuild of the technology and platform on which we publish and distribute content," said KC Estenson, SVP, CNN Digital.
With responsive design, dynamic content will render across a multitude of devices ranging from desktop and mobile to apps and tablets. In other words, no matter what screen you're viewing, the content will adjust to display in the format of that device (see examples below).
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In addition, a new tagging system will improve search functionality and make it easier to share content across social networks. Users will also be able to personalize their CNN experience by "following" topics, trends, bylines and more.
Other visible changes will be the use of full-bleed photos and videos that display across the entire screen, as well as a new approach where webpage color schemes will change throughout the day based on news coverage. For example, urgent or breaking news will display with red tones, whereas human interest stories may have softer colors such as blue or gray.
New style features of the redesign also include new icons and typography that bring the aesthetic of television to the digital screen. In addition, site navigation will be reorganized to better serve the nearly 40% of digital traffic the site receives, especially the growing segment of mobile users.
"I fervently believe mobile is a huge part of our future," said Zucker. "Whatever screen you want to connect with us on, we'll be there."
The CNN/Next beta is currently in its early stages of development. The public beta site will open in September, and the revamped site will go live worldwide in November.