BBC TV on the web redefined
Today is a big day for BBC television on the web with the launch of brand new websites for BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Four as well as an updated BBC Three site (building on February's relaunch) and a new TV homepage.
It also heralds the switch on of live streaming (simulcast) for BBC Four, CBBC and CBeebies, joining BBC Three, BBC News and BBC Parliament, which are already available to watch live online, with BBC One and BBC Two due to follow later this year [see recent press release and previous multicast trial].
Last but by no means least, today also marks the passage of /programmes from beta to fully
fledged live service, boasting a permanent, findable web presence for every TV and radio programme that the BBC broadcasts.
A lot of things to launch all on one day? Unquestionably, but it's indicative of the increasingly interconnected nature of the BBC's online offer, where the channel websites are no longer discrete content areas, but are fully integrated with the wider programmes offer and beyond.
So, how did we set about redesigning (and hopefully improving) some of the most visited pages on bbc.co.uk? Well, we started with your feedback on the previous sites, collected via the bbc.co.uk Pulse survey, which told us that the basic tasks of finding out what's on television and quickly locating information on specific programmes were most important and could be made easier.
With this in mind, we placed a schedule carousel along the top of the new channel homepages and a snapshot of what's on now and next across every BBC TV channel at the heart of the new TV homepage. We also added a Programmes A-Z module to the top right of all of these pages to provide quick access to the wealth of programme information housed within the newly minted /programmes.
A significant development since the channel websites were last refreshed (in July 2007) is the availability of catch-up programming via BBC iPlayer, which we've reflected via a dedicated module on each of the homepages, showcasing the most popular programmes on demand with a link through to the full iPlayer offer. iPlayer availability is also reflected in the schedule carousel with a Watch Now button appearing for programmes which can be viewed on demand and Watch Live buttons for those being simulcast.
The eagle-eyed among you might notice that the channel homepages have a discreet temporal metaphor to them, with past programming on the left of the page, the present reflected in the centre, and future highlights to the right, reflecting the expanding life of programmes beyond a single moment of transmission (for more on this topic, check out ex-BBC staffer Dan Hill's blog post on "The Social Life of a Broadcast").
Lower down on the homepages, you'll find links to top video clips, photo galleries and "Be on a Show" information, as well as channel-specific elements such as BBC Four's Newsletter and Have Your Say comments forums.
Of course, it's not all about the homepages. Behind the schedule links are full TV listings for each of the channels (including regional variations), which are fully integrated with /programmes, meaning they will they will be permanently accessible, unlike the What's On What's On listings (which these will replace) which became inaccessible after just two days.
Each channel site also has an area for channel trailers (known in the industry as "idents"), compiling the stings that appear between programmes on BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three and BBC Four.
Far too many people have contributed to the above projects to list them individually; suffice to say it's been a truly pan-BBC effort with colleagues from Vision, Audio & Music and Future Media & Technology all collaborating to raise the bar for the BBC's programme and channel support online.
We're really keen to hear your feedback on the new sites, so please leave a comment below.
Dan Taylor is Senior Portfolio Executive, Internet for BBC Vision.