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Josh Miller

How you redesigned CNET's mobile site without even knowing it

We're serving our site to you the way you want it.

Nearly 3 months ago we launched a new desktop homepage, which kicked off a total redesign of CNET as a whole. And today we're launching an overhauled mobile homepage as well!

The shiny exterior disguises just how much work we pour into our site to make it your favorite destination. As the taskmaster/tyrant (i.e., product manager) of the homepage redesign, I'd like to share a bit of our process with you. I particularly wanted to share this story because it demonstrates our guiding principle at CNET -- that you, our reader, are our No. 1 priority.

To ensure that we're giving you an awesome reading experience, we test. And we test a ton. Imagine building a house, but repainting the interior five times before moving in -- crazy, right?!? Well that's essentially what we did for this project; we spent more time testing and tweaking the design than we did building it!


On the left is CNET's old mobile web homepage, the right is the new version.


Why? Because we pride ourselves on being able to magically predict everything you'll love. But the truth is, only by watching readers actually use CNET do we truly learn. In this project alone, you taught us some pretty cool lessons, such as:

  • You really enjoy our pretty galleries. (So we added a section of them.)
  • Less isn't always more. Sometimes, it's just less. (So we added more stuff for you to read on mobile.)
  • Reading on your phone means you want to read different stuff than desktop readers.
  • If content doesn't load fast, you're gonna give us up.

In addition to data we gathered from the site, we also asked for your feedback via in-person interviews, on-site surveys and in our forums.

Then, finally, after weeks of testing, we were ready for launch. The stats around both readership and revenue were solid. We could push the big red button anytime we wanted. But we on the product team knew there was more to be done. We wanted it faster; we wanted to see people finding the content they wanted, and more of it. So we got back to work, made more performance improvements, and we are very pleased with the results.

So, welcome to the new mobile CNET. Faster, prettier, better organized, all in all a better experience. But we're still at it! Don't ever hesitate to give us your feedback; it's what makes our community truly special and helps us build the best possible reading experience. We love your feedback and support, and couldn't have done this without you.

P.S.: You may have noticed that while we've been tinkering with mobile, CNET's desktop homepage has gotten some really cool upgrades too, such as an expanded Latest Stories section and better support for smaller displays -- changes we made based on feedback from you. :D Thanks again!