Today sees the launch of a refreshed version of our corporate websites, About the BBC, of which this blog is part. I have been leading the team who made the changes and I'd like to explain some of the thinking behind them.

The BBC has long had websites aimed at helping audiences and licence fee payers understand various aspects of what it does as an organisation. Some of these worked well and were well maintained, others had become out of date. In all, there were around fifty of them. The connections between them were very limited. There was nowhere to go to gain a broad understanding of how the BBC works or what it does. The sites varied enormously in look and feel.

The old homepages for the About the BBC and BBC Press Office websites.

Earlier this year, we outlined the BBC's plans to reshape and rationalise BBC Online to create one cohesive service.

The task we set ourselves here was to improve the quality and coherence of the BBC's corporate online presence, and at the same time to make it much more cost effective.

Our solution: the new About the BBC Homepage, and Inside the BBC site

When we analysed the sites we found they fitted within five broad categories. The new About the BBC, therefore, has five sections. They share a single design and navigation pattern:

Inside the BBC - for licence fee payers and anyone interested in the BBC, covering our history, programmes and services, how we are structured and the principles to which we work.

Media Centre - the latest announcements, programme information, media packs and statements from the BBC's press office.

Partners and Suppliers - providing information for people and companies who want to work with the BBC, become a supplier, or have a programme commissioned.

Careers - for people who want to get a job or work experience with the BBC, or find out about the training we offer.

Help and Feedback - bringing together advice on how to access and use our services, or how to give feedback on them.

In addition to bringing a number of sites into this framework, we have moved them into a single content management system, using common templates. This will radically reduce the editorial and technical costs of maintaining them.

We have also tried to make the site more compelling, accessible and understandable. Here, the main changes are:

  • A new homepage, linking the five sections, featuring the latest BBC news and directing visitors to areas of current interest

  • New unified navigation, with a roll over feature in the page header providing links to the full range of corporate sites
  • A focus on simplicity and clarity, with short explanations of the different sites and the use of images to aid navigation

  • Multimedia embedded across the site to bring variety and interest

  • Social media integration to enable our visitors to engage in conversation with and about the BBC should they choose to, links to some of our blogs and embedded Twitter feeds such as @bbcpress and @aboutthebbc

Creating a new corporate presence for the BBC is a gradual process. We are working with colleagues to migrate their sites into the new framework as they become due for a refresh. Many have moved today but this is not a "big bang". Others, like BBC Shows and Tours and BBC Supplying will move into the new look and feel over the coming months.

We hope you that the new corporate face of the BBC will help you find the information you need more easily, and provide a better account of how a complex organisation works and what it does. We would very much value your feedback, either here on this blog, or on Twitter to @aboutthebbc.

Ian Hunter is the Managing Editor, BBC Online

Related Links:

Erik Huggers: Reshaping BBC Online

Ralph Rivera: Connected storytelling - one service, ten products, four screens

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  • Comment number 55. Posted by Russ

    on 14 Dec 2011 12:42

    The 'About Us' link on this page's navbar is a 404.

    Russ

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  • Comment number 54. Posted by Russ

    on 14 Dec 2011 11:17

    Why has the Updating the BBC Complaints blog been closed?

    Russ

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  • Comment number 53. Posted by Athena2

    on 12 Dec 2011 19:57

    #50
    Thank you Heather, but I was responding directly to comments made by Ian Hunter in Post #38
    :)

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  • Comment number 52. Posted by Piet Boon

    on 12 Dec 2011 18:52

    The blog of James is closed

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  • Comment number 51. Posted by Piet Boon

    on 12 Dec 2011 18:18

    This comment was removed because it broke the house rules. Explain

  • Comment number 50. Posted by Heather Taylor

    on 12 Dec 2011 11:17

    Thank you everyone for your comments but as a reminder, discussion around the BBC Homepage is off-topic on this blog. This post relates to the relaunch of the BBC's corporate websites, About the BBC.

    If you want to provide feedback on the design please go to the BBC Internet Blog

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2011/12/bbc_homepage_your_feedback_2.html

    @PietBoon The link you mentioned in #12 is correct - it links to the "How can I send a complaint to the BBC?" page, advising how to contact the BBC depending on the nature of your complaint.

  • Comment number 49. Posted by Russ

    on 11 Dec 2011 11:58

    I note the BBC has ceased attempting to defend the use of a carousel as an efficient or ergonomic navigation device.

    Russ

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  • Comment number 48. Posted by Piet Boon

    on 11 Dec 2011 11:40

    See my comment #12, this is still not corrected. Wrong link in new site.

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  • Comment number 47. Posted by Sue_Aitch

    on 9 Dec 2011 08:11

    One plea, made in open posts and elsewhere in my messageboard and blog posting history: please would the BBC Online editors ensure BBC Online, BBC Ceefax pages 695, 697 and 698 and BBC Digital Text Red Button Services' Page 9990 and The Phone Book all have the right postal address information for viewers who like to use something with a Postage Stamp to get in touch. Royal Mail's Postal Address Finder and Postcode Finder services are very user friendly.

    Ceefax page 695 still has the wrong telephone and/or textphone numbers in it for some services andit is a shame to see the original Steampunk British Wide Web so out of date.

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  • Comment number 46. Posted by Irish_Tom

    on 9 Dec 2011 00:02

    "Our job now is to look at the widest range of evidence about how it is being used, by whom, and respond accordingly. I think we have to acknowledge, too, that people's reactions to change alter over time. For that reason I am reluctant to rush to judgement, even if to some that sounds complacent, or even arrogant."

    How is a severe drop-off of users going to aid you in determining how the new site is being used and by whom?

    People's REactions might not change over time but their actions will. Simply put, they will stop using the BBC website all together. This has already been recorded countless times on the other blogs about the new homepage.

    How long are you going to wait before you pass judgement? When 5% of 9 million users a week stop visiting the BBC website? When 10% drop off? When will you concede that this new homepage launch is a total and utter failure?

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