Introducing the new mobile homepage beta
Just under two years ago I joined the BBC.
As one of my first projects at the BBC I led the development of the BBC's homepage leading the industry and our audience into a new personalized future. The page has proved enormously successful driving higher usage and deep engagement (over 30% of the audience personalise the page still to this day a year later).
The mobile team has taken the initiative to take this thinking to the mobile homepage, which makes a ton of sense to me. Mobile devices (including phones) are very very personal, (more than 90% of our mobile phones have personal A/V content (photos, videos, etc) on them. We carry them everywhere. To me this project is the beginning of a personalised, audience centred roadmap for the BBC, and a great step forward for the mobile service and team.
Ulyssa MacMillan, who leads the BBC Mobile Browser team, has written the blog below which I'd like to share with you today, I am immensely proud of her and the team with their hard work to get this service live!
Richard Titus is Future Media Controller, Audio and Music & Mobile, BBC Future Media & Technology
The Mobile browser team has developed a customisable mobile homepage and we're sharing it with you today so you can try it out and give us your feedback. It is currently in beta form linked from the main homepage. Over the next few weeks we will be adding new features, fixing issues and building in changes based on feedback until we are ready to remove the beta status and replace the current homepage at the end of March.
For best results, view full screen.
This is significant for everyone involved in developing mobile services for the BBC - the homepage is dynamic and it is served from Forge (the BBC's new dynamic web serving infrastructure), and it is the first milestone in an ambitious roadmap for the development of our service to be contextual, social, personal, immediate, device and location aware. Whilst complimenting bbc.co.uk, it will take into consideration the unique properties of Mobile and of the audience needs when they are on the go. We will build on the learning and experience of this project to reinvent BBC Mobile.
- Customisation helps users surface their favourite areas from the site and access them directly from the homepage, Music, entertainment, News, Sport...
- It gives the ability to create a localised content set - News, Weather and TV schedules where you live.
- The homepage has a more live and up to date feel - with the latest schedule and iPlayer featured content (see end of mail for supported device details) as well as News, Sport and Entertainment top headlines.
- It takes advantage of a user's handset and network capabilities to give them the best possible experience - e.g. a different experience and image sizes for touch screens and iPlayer/audio and video if supported.
- Reordering topics (news, sport, weather, entertainment, television, radio & music, featured sites)
- Removing and/or adding topics to the homepage
- Setting and changing location
- Adding extra news and sport sections
- Changing the television/radio stations and schedules
- Saving the page (via cookies - if supported by your carrier)
iPhone, iPod Touch and Google Android; handsets running the Opera browser; all Nokia N Series and high-end Nokias; Sony Ericsson and Samsung running the Net Front 3.3+ browser; some Blackberry's 4.2+.
If you are unsure about whether your handset is supported, just give it a try. If you try to access the homepage on an unsupported handset you will be redirected back to the current homepage.
Accessing the homepage
Put the url www.bbc.co.uk/mobile/betahome/ into your phone or text BETAHOME to 88822. You will be charged 10p to 12p to send the text and it will not come from your text bundle. You may receive two different messages to ensure you have the best format for your handset but there will be no extra cost.
This is only the first phase of our plans for the BBC mobile homepage.
While it's a vast improvement on the current offering, we'll continue to review the content, functionality and design, and we'll continue to listen to users about what they want to be able to do with their homepage.
We will give users the ability to customise the mobile homepage from a desktop PC, and in the future to share preferences across mobile and the fixed line where appropriate to do so. We will also introduce an element of implicit recommendation - telling users about more content they might be interested in that they may not be aware of - and bring a whole new audience to the content available.
We'll also widen the range of handsets and browsers supported, and build on our new dynamic device-intelligent architecture to offer the best possible experience, whether you are on a low end device or high end touch screen.
We are exploring ways of allowing users to add more content whilst being mindful of page weight - we will tie this into device detection too, so that handset capabilities are taken into consideration for the best experience possible. Adding favourite football teams and following the latest sports news and results direct from the homepage would be a really popular example of additional content, and we'll look at adding this option in the very near future.
If our users spend time and effort telling us about their favourite subjects and UK location, it makes sense for this to shape their experience across the whole BBC mobile site so we'll be looking to offer a more customised experience across other areas of the site too.
We'll also be looking at how to better surface the vast range of content on the site - mobile search, using dynamic navigation and links, and looking at how we can use location-based technology.
Users of our international site will also see their homepage change later this year - making it more customisable using the functionality we've developed for the new beta homepage.
We'd appreciate any feedback you have about the new homepage. We'd especially like to find out what you think of the functionality, user experience, design and the speed at which it loads on your phone. It's a little heavier than the current live homepage as it has more content in it. And if you have any other comments about the features you'd like to see on the homepage, we'd love to hear those too.
Ulyssa MacMillan is Executive Producer, BBC Mobile.