Editorial Content On The New Homepage
Hello, I look after the editorial side of things on the bbc.co.uk homepage.
Firstly, many people have suggested that the main image is too big and that there isn't enough other content visible on the screen without scrolling down. Some suggested that this "main promo" should be removable, or at least movable.
Secondly, there seems to be a common perception that this area is simply an ad for BBC content.
Your feedback is already having a direct effect on how the page will look when it launches. The design is being tweaked to slim it down to get more of the stuff you want - especially news and sport headlines and the weather forecast - higher up the page ("above the fold", to use the jargon) and the main promo area in particular will get quite a bit smaller.
I can understand the reaction of those who want to make the main image removable (like the widgets on the page).
But I disagree, for the following reasons:
- It adds visual interest to the page and acts as an "anchor" for the design. Without this the page would look dull. Just as a magazine needs a strong image on the front cover, so does the BBC.
- The ability of users to customise the new homepage opens up tremendous possibilities, but the BBC should have at least one place to display what we reckon is important, interesting or entertaining. Our mission isn't simply to air stories and programmes we know you wanted... but also the ones you didn't know you wanted. The promo is our chance to inject a dose of serendipity. And if you don't like the first feature, there are others you can select instead.
- The content within this section is set to get more exciting. Reflecting what's happening across the internet generally, we don't intend to stick to text and images alone. By this spring, we will have rolled out video and audio clips - and be serving you up picture galleries (similar to this one) and a weekly news quiz.
This brings me to the aversion many of you have to "ads". I've given up trying to stop people calling this section the "promo area", but the intention is that it shouldn't be just about promoting headline BBC programmes. It's a "feature area" - a window onto topical content, suited to the online medium. To misquote Robbie Williams, it's where we say: "Let us (inform, educate and) entertain you."
On the current homepage, we are already producing topical features. These highlight relevant content across the whole BBC website to give greater context or depth to the issues of the day. For example, the mortgage calculator may not be popular most days, but it was highlighted on the homepage to good effect on the morning that interest rates last went up.
When we get video on the homepage, we won't use it simply to run TV trails. We may bring you short segments from upcoming TV shows... but we hope that these will appeal as individual pieces in and of themselves, much like the best clips on YouTube.
Sound bites have got a bad name for themselves, but I've lost count of the number of amazing moments I've encountered on BBC radio and TV that could be extracted and used to good effect on the web. It's no longer just about saying there's a programme "on at 7pm on BBC One". It's about extracting that moment - and serving it up right there on the homepage.
Our editorial mission in the coming months is to persuade people to see this area as something like a magazine section... and to start enjoying the new range of content which we feature daily.
James Price is the editor of the BBC homepage.