CNN Travel (formerly CNNGo) is CNN’s travel and lifestyle site, providing news and destination guides for adventurous travellers and locals alike, run by a small team in Hong Kong.
As Product Manager I was responsible for the design and delivery of both the desktop and mobile versions of the product in conjunction with editorial, technical, marketing and sales teams across the world.
- Transitioning brand from CNNGo to CNN Travel
- Redesign of information architecture and site navigation
- New section templates for sponsored content features
- Development of REST based content syndication API
- Partner integration with Expedia and TripAdvisor
- Standardised image upload and conversion workflow
- Backend editorial interface efficiency improvements
- Major CMS upgrade from Drupal 6 to 7
Unused Concept Homepage
- Designed and developed mobile apps for iPhone, Android, and Nokia platforms
- Multilingual content delivered in English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean
- Integrated with CNN iReport to enable users to share their own stories and photos
- Mobile web designed using responsive layout in order to scale beyond smartphones
- Responsible for 1500% increase in weekly mobile traffic
CNNGo iPhone App
CNN Travel’s core product is content created by writers around the world so the primary function of the app was to be a newsreader with the ability to submit your own stories. Since it is focused on travel, the secondary function was to be a destination guide which a user could dip into before, during, and after their trip (where to visit, eat, sleep etc).
After fleshing out the basic requirements I started sketched ideas on paper, rapidly refining them until they were at a point where I was happy with the general flow. I then moved into OmniGraffle and began to experiment with how it might look.
Since CNN Travel deals with travel & lifestyle stories, rather than breaking news, I tried to make the design a little more visual overall to showcase the gorgeous photography and give each article more of a glossy magazine feel.
The basic principle behind the navigation was to provide carousels of story tiles in filterable sections which could be swiped through to select and view a particular article or gallery.
During user testing I observed that people would first try swiping left/right on the main image at the top and then up/down on the story tiles below. This of course didn’t work and, while they would soon figure out the correct way, I wasn’t happy with the initial frustration it caused. I designed a revised ‘content grid’ layout with 4 main images in a carousel at the top and list of stories below.
The launch of the app was handled by the marketing team who lined up online, print and tv ad campaigns along with a competition to encourage people to download.
The initial version was launched at the end of 2011 after around 6 months of planning and development. You can read about the lessons I learnt from this project here.
CNN Travel Mobile Web Site
The mobile website was designed to provide a superior experience for users on smartphones visiting CNN Travel via search engines and social networks like Facebook and Twitter.