Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Web Design: An Unlikely case study -- Comparing the leaked template vs the actual events


Web design has certainly come a long way since 2001. There are more options, and those who are providing content know how to use formatting to not only visually make things stand out, but to cluster information in useful ways.

This note compares the CNN leaked version available on Smoking gun in 2001 to the actual websites in re Reagan in 2004.


While reviewing the great website, I stumbled across his comment at the bottom about the mistaken release of CNN-Dick Cheney-obit.

Reagan: I wondered, how did the leaked version compare to the actual.


1. Quote remained the same "When the lord calls me home..."

2. Altzheimer's announcement moved from "Features" to "Biography".

3. Features "Style all his own" retained in "Reagan's' Style."

4. "First Lady First Friend" retained.

5. "Interactive" column 3 in original was narrowed into the military funeral.

6. Speech archive retained in column 2.

7. Elements from "Interactive" column 3 was split into two sections: Column 2

8. Interactive element "photogallery" was split from Column 3 into both Column 1 and Column 3.

9. Roman Numerals I-V from column 1 were compressed into Biography, allowing more information, including comments about the events, and images to break up the events: Library tour and trivia.


Column 3 for the funeral; original did not have any reference to the national events. Indicates that despite the planning Nancy Reagan did on the event, that CNN design team had not anticipated how extraordinary all the details would be. For example, the objective of the timing of the events was to ensure Reagan was finally put to rest as the sun set in California.

Column 4 added additional technology: The 2001 version was more text-image based; while by 2004 there was moving images, audio-video that was outside the range of the original design. Plus, the final version Column 3 has an interactive version of military funeral not part of the original design.

Premium content added: Video.


- No chat in the final version [as of today], but has tributes and "user's responses."

- Removed the formal outline Roman Numerals and simply used words in column 1.


1. What do the changes say about CNN's web team?

Focuses on readability by incorporating details: Color changes, moving from structured elements of roman numerals to simply listing the content.

Structured the information for larger information, access, visual-readability, and contrast.

2. How do the changes reflect new technology between 2001 when the original was released and the final was released on the actual event?

Audio, images, colored text, highlighting, and interactive technology.

3. What significance do the various events have on actual web content, vice the hypothetical event?

CNN incorporated the national reaction into the events, capturing not just the event but the national scope of the event.

4. What other changes can you find that have not been mentioned, and what do they tell you?

Your turn.