Preview of the New CNN.com

cnndotcomlogo10-23.jpgAfter six months in development, the new CNN.com will arrive on Monday and it was “unveiled” to the press last evening at an event in Manhattan.

This latest iteration of the site is not too different from its predecessors, except that it will do a better job of highlighting previously buried content and video. The homepage will feature three columns: one for breaking news, one for features and video, and one for customizable weather, sports, and news content. There will also be topic boxes, which better organize stories from many categories across the site.

There are some new additions. Adapting what was learned building CNNPolitics, the new site will feature CNNOpinions and CNNEntertainment, which will deliver content from a partnership with EW and People.

The new site will feature an area of “first person storytelling,” which includes web series like “Americans in Afghanistan” about NGOs and “Freshman Year,” about freshmen congressmen.

Describing the current site as “a machine that spits out breaking news,” Kenneth “KC” Estenson, the dynamic SVP and GM of CNN.com, told the crowd, “We’re gonna be there in Iraq. We’re gonna be there in Afghanistan. We’re gonna be there for the seminal moments of time. But, it’s this type of content that shows the distinctive breadth and reach that we think is unique to CNN.”

We sat down with Estenson after the unveiling, and he told us that CNN decided to hold back updates over the six-month development to release them in a big way like this. “I think at a news organization, it’s usually breaking news that drives innovation,” he said. “We’re trying to detach those things and put out products off the news cycle that we just think are great consumer experiences and get them ready so when we have breaking news…you’re going to see that on the homepage.”

Photo and more after the jump.


Getting video integrated dynamically was a major focus for this redesign. He told us, “You want to see these events, and you just couldn’t do it in the old design. That was the first thing we set out to solve. And we saw this trajectory with video consumption and we said ‘OK. We need to make that much easier.'”

In addition to the customizable homepage modules, he tells us that profile pages will also be launched allowing you to more closely follow a subject: “That’s something that’s in the iPhone app that I think people really like. Now we’ve got this consistency of experience between the phone and the site.”

While most news sites are deciding how and where to aggregate content from other places, CNN has a bit of an advantage in that area. “I think we want to play off the content that we love and it turns out a lot of that’s in Time Warner: Money, Fortune, these are great magazines with great journalists, so People and EW was a natural.”

A product called “NewsPulse” will be launching in beta with the new site, which will allow readers to view the popularity of stories “like an iTunes for news,” as well as better integration of iReport, “which is about bringing together, extending news-gathering power.” The new site will also feature content from TED, the organization that delivers the often fascinating “TED Talks.”

On November 9, CNN will be partnering with Oprah for a special live streaming of her book club.

While all of this looks nice, we have yet to determine if it’s as easy and dynamic to use as it’s laid out to be. Of course, we still had one question that needed to be answered regarding the site.

“You can definitely still get a t-shirt. That will be one thing that’s tougher to find.”

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