The new Radio 1 homepage
Man, what a New Year! Things are normally pretty quiet here over Christmas and we are all happily plucking the turkey because we know that loads of people are doing the same. This year we offered listeners lots of pre-Christmas gifts - some of our best music sessions to take away. Over 12 days we saw around 600,000 downloads. There's one to fight the Christmas stats slump!
Once the excitement of Christmas was over and the world was driving to their next destination for New Year's Eve, a hardcore group of us were working away to prepare for two major projects: - new homepages for Radio 1 & 1Xtra - the Visualising Radio Trial on Chris Moyles' show and on Switch with Annie & Nick
Radio 1's new homepage went live on Sunday. It's already been in beta for a week and it's been a brilliant week! The internal dial in my guts, which seems to automatically weigh up the negative and positive responses to a project, has settled on a thumbs up, gold star, good work.
That's not to say everyone loves it - of course they don't - but before I get into that I should say what we set out to achieve with this revamp:
We want to ensure our homepage is young. It should appeal to a range of people but primarily, it's for young people. It has to be a bit cool and a bit populist but ultimately for someone who is between 15 and 24.
The site needs to be modular and feed driven. We've worked hard to pull together the appropriate feeds - the newest of which is the video feed. The video instinctively feels like it should be further up the page, but we are waiting to see how this pans out: Is it technically sound? Is the content flowing fast enough?
Modularity is important for the future. We need to be able to carve up our pages when we personalise Radio 1, and to change elements without having to spend resources on redesigning the lot. I guess this comes at a cost, as some people have noticed the new grid pattern and said they miss the curves and corners.
We also wanted to make the site simpler and there will be more navigational changes to come. We removed the 'Experimental' module from the homepage, as this content isn't a genre of its own and often falls into one of our other categories. We removed the 'Daytime' module because we use the main promotional window to show much of our daytime entertainment content. Frankly if it's daytime content that we weren't willing to put in the main promo window, then why would we highlight it?
Feedback from the audience hasn't led us to make major immediate changes, but we've got lots to think about and work on such as: - simpler navigation - toning it down (although most love the bright colour - it feels contemporary and young) - we are also going to consider a drop down menu for DJs and Shows navigation.
Whatever your views, I think we're in a better place than ever before in terms of being able to respond to them. We can make regular small and simple changes, so do let us know what you think by leaving your comments below.
Big thanks go to my colleagues in Radio 1/1Xtra Interactive and in Future Media &Technology for working so hard to deliver the new sites.
The other major opener for the New Year is the Visualising Radio Trial. My internal gut dial is still spinning on this one. Not least because you just never know how 'live' things are going to go. Yasser at Radio Labs blog and Duncan at Whomwah have more details.
I've staked quite a lot on the concept of Visualising Radio over the years. This is a concept that may not become 'normal' for many years but the ability for us to deliver glanceable content is going to be an important part of keeping radio relevant as broadcasting and IP march forward.
Early in my career at the BBC, I wrote the text for RDS and DAB. Few people at the time saw the value in LiveText on radio... they wouldn't dream of turning it off now. The exciting step here though, is in the real-time reflection of our audiences inbound texts, the automation of artist information, images and 'now playing' data, the editorial fun that we can have running filters over our SMS comments... and of course being able to watch Moyles live from 6.30 am till 10 am... for just one week.
Lets see how it goes and I look forward to reading your comments.
Ben Chapman is Interactive Editor, Audio and Music Interactive.