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CNN Web site revamp focuses on enhancing mobile experience

CNN announced that this fall it will be rolling out a Web redesign, CNN/Next, that will target the company?s growth in mobile.

According to the media company, mobile Web traffic is up 46 percent from last summer and up 70 percent on CNN applications. Mobile currently accounts for 39 percent of CNN?s total traffic, with a majority coming from smartphones.

?From outside the organization, CNN/Next will be simplified as a sleek and innovative Web site redesign,? said KC Estenson, senior vice president and general manager of, Atlanta, GA. ?But it?s much greater than that.

?This project will tie our platforms together in ways that were before impossible and truly integrate our programming and talent into CNN?s digital presence,? he said.

Enhanced mobile experience
According to Mr. Estenson, CNN does not currently offer a great experience for mobile viewers, which the CNN/Next redesign is aimed at fixing.

The new Web site will feature a responsive design that will adjust to screen size on the more than 20 different platforms that feature CNN content. Ads will appear in the same format across devices.

For smaller screens, the site will show stories in a single column, with a lead story at the top and boxes featuring other stories below.

In terms of the aesthetics of the site, everything will be darker and more streamlined. The site will display one big story at the top of the page and then other stories below the fold in a Pinterest-like format of boxes.

The site will also update its colors, using darker shades for less urgent stories and bolder colors for more pressing articles.

According to Mr. Estenson, CNN has seen 38 million downloads of its app and has more Twitter followers and Facebook fans than any other news organization. The upcoming revamps are geared to maintain the company?s dominance in mobile and digital.

Streamlined news breaking
Another change that CNN will be making is in terms of the way it actually breaks news.

Currently, a breaking story is posted onto the Web site?s homepage, and then it is placed on mobile and social feeds, often with new headlines. After the revamp, stories will be simultaneously posted across platforms.

The new CNN site will be in private beta until September 30. The company expects to reveal a complete site in November.

?I think CNN recognizes that more and more of their readers are using multiple screens to get their news,? said Tony Vlismas, senior director of marketing and sales development at Polar, Toronto. ?And while mobile usage is at a record high, often someone might start a story on their desktop but finish it on their tablet while watching TV or on their smartphone while riding the bus home.

Mr. Vlismas is not associated with CNN. He commented based on his expertise on he subject.

?A consistent user experience across all screens is more imperative now than ever,? he said. ?I would also say that with the increase in news competition and aggregated news out there from social networks and friends using apps like Flipbook, CNN recognizes the need to distinguish themselves not only by content, but also design and user interface.

?For a company as large as CNN to keep their reader base engaged and coming back to their properties, they need mobile sites that look and feel like proper mobile sites. In the end readers will decide who wins based on not on only content, but ease of use and user experience.?

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York