This morning, Steve pointed to me to the new beta version of the website, which is now available for public testing. You can view it here and take a guided tour of the new site here. Following are a few things that jumped out at me:

Things I Like

(1) The site is pretty Ajaxy, meaning users can access content without reloading pages, thus minimizing page views. This is significant, as it makes CNN one of the first large media properties to embrace new technology and take a baby step away from the page view advertising model.

(2) They’ve launched a new video section that is a huge improvement. On the current site, all videos are presented in slow loading pop up windows. They are now embedding the video in a normal page and using Flash, which creates a much better user experience. I hated the pop ups so much I literally would not click on any video links. In addition, they’ve come up with a clever way to integrate videos with accompanying stories through tabbing.

There are a couple of major problems with the videos though: the way it is set up there is no way to embed a CNN video into your blog and, more importantly, there is no easy way to link directly to an individual video. No good.

(3) Sort of like Amazon and Netflix, the new site has a recommendation engine that refers you to relevant stories based on your browsing history. An example is below.

Things I Don’t LIke

(1) The email and save options on the story pages still work using pop up windows and not Ajax. They should really fix this. Did I mention that I hate pop up windows?

(2) The site doesn’t have any social tools. There is no way to comment on what you are reading or to establish a profile on the site, like USA Today and the Washington Post have done recently.

Overall, I think this is an improvement. I would have liked to see more social features but improving the way the video works on the site is a huge thing for me.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

Update: I’ll post links to other reviews as I see them.

About the Author
Todd Zeigler
Todd Zeigler serves as the Brick Factory’s chief strategist and oversees the operations of the firm. In his sixteen year career in digital, he has planned and implemented campaigns for clients including the Pickens Plan, International Youth Foundation, Panthera, Edison Electric Institute, and the American Chemistry Council. Todd develops ambitious online advocacy programs, manages crises, implements online marketing strategies, and develops custom applications and software. He is bad at golf though.