CNNI: It’s the Pictures

CNN International, the five regional feeds that CNN provides outside of the United States, was the subject of a bold and risky redesign earlier this month. The new design was created with several considerations in mind:

  • Easier navigation. The new design greatly minimizes the clutter of text that has become the norm on other channels. They have pared away all but the most essential information.
  • Slower. An irony of the new design is that it seems to transmit information slower than a screen filled with information. This is in stark contrast with CNN’s competitors, but it seems to be a result CNN is taking baby steps toward. Last year’s Headline News redesign stripped away all but a fraction of the on-screen data. CNNI goes even further, by removing the ticker that has been a staple of American cable news since September 11th, 2001.
  • Edgier. A major goal of the CNNI redesign was to allow the video to “breathe.” They accomplish this by letting the text out of its box, so to speak. The text is now white on a black background that tightly borders it – it looks a lot like closed captioning. The new look frees up space behind the text to allow the video to show through.

I haven’t been able to see what the the design looks like in motion, but if it’s as good as it looks in stills, I think it’ll be a major improvement. I do feel that the “flipper” still takes up too much screen space, but I think many people appreciate that second channel of information, so it’s probably not going to go away. Also, the CNN logo is kind of distracting in its new home. I personally would like to see it when the “navigation box” is not on-screen, but to speak of removing continuous branding in today’s competitive world is sacrilage, so I don’t expect that to happen either.

All in all, it’s a significant improvement, but I wouldn’t call it perfect yet.