CNN has made a slight shift in th elayout of its US homepage. By moving the navigation to a horizontal type, they have made more room for their video offerings.
Unfortunately they have run out of room and had to relegate some of the sections to a drop-down listing. I’m sure they could have put RSS, CNNtoGo et al to a ‘utility’ bar and allowed those 5 sidelined sections to have presence in the main bar.
I think the resolution thing is less of an issue, strangely enough. 1024 is becoming a more defacto standard and as with other sites moving to this they have put the less important content on that side of the screen, so as those browsing with smaller viewports still get the page’s message.
However I do think that CNN should have maybe looked at a browser-width-dependent layout.
CNN’s web team probably have a terrible time juggling stakeholders, but if a site is unusable or difficult to navigate then everyone is going to lose out.
Why shouldn’t big sites have good IA and design? The BBC site always gets cited as a pillar of the web community by developers and the public. Sure it is difficult to do well, but the CNN nav bar now just feels thrown together, and I think is harder to read than their vertical version.