Bringing Together BBC's Corporate Websites

Managing Editor, BBC Online

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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 Some of these worked well and were well maintained, others had become out of date.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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