Accompanying the beta site, they’ve launched a blog, Behind the Scenes at CNN.com, where they are encouraging discussion of the redesign.
It’s a great concept – specifically highlighting what the team is trying to accomplish in the redesign, and going beyond the constraints of carefully chosen focus groups under NDAs for a far more transparent and open forum.
Not all the comments will be terribly valuable, of course; the first comment on the first post says in its entirety: “ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s too white. Not enough color. print is too small. Make it more colorful like USA Today. com or MSNBC.com.”
But when all the comments are taken together, they will undoubtedly get insights and guidance from their most vocal constituents which will help guide their evolution, and which they would only have received too late (or not at all) under the old “design and build under a cloud of secrecy, then reveal only when it is all complete” approach.
They’re also explicitly working on what Dermot Waters characterizes as “being a good web citizen” by pointing to local news sources and blog posts which are outside CNN’s domain.
The idea, which sounds almost self-evident but isn’t always well understood by online media sites, is that:
. . . by being a good web citizen, we fulfill our core mission by doing whatever it takes to help you get the full story Ã¢â‚¬â€ even if it takes you away from CNN.com. If we do that well, we believe youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll keep coming back.
It will be interesting to watch the site (and the discussion about its goals and their fulfillment) evolve.
(In the interest of full disclosure, Turner Broadcasting is an Optaros client – but that doesn’t influence what I’ve said above except that I’ve had a chance to meet some of the folks behind the effort and know that they get it and mean what they say.)