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BBC User Experience and Design working with D&AD

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Adam Powers | 14:25 UK time, Thursday, 16 July 2009

As one of the BBC's four 'Heads of UX&D', I am often asked to explain my job title and describe what I actually do.

'UX&D' is an acronym for User Experience and Design, and I lead a team of 30 out of the 100 or more UX&D staff within the BBC Future Media and Technology division.

UX&D is comprised of Information Architects, Interaction Designers, Visual Designers and Usability experts.

Our discipline group is essential to the success of the BBC's digital offerings because it defines the visual manifestation, the behaviour and the interconnectedness of BBC content and it's relationship with the rest of the web.

The authorship of the label 'User Experience Design' is widely accredited to Don Norman during his tenure at Apple Computer in 1993 when he led their Advanced Technology Group.

In simplest terms, BBC UX&D teams design the look and feel, user interface and domain structures of the BBC's web and mobile sites, as well as the applications that inhabit them. Our approach is one that follows the principles of User Centred Design or UCD.

This is all really just a foreword to another piece of news that I have wanted to share.

This year, BBC UX&D has sponsored a brief in the D&AD Student awards.

The D&AD awards are widely regarded as the most prestigious of creative accolades for both professionals and students, often described as the 'Design Oscars', with the prizes being yellow pencils rather than golden statuettes.

We have wanted to get involved with D&AD for a while, recognising their charitable work in education for creative, design and advertising communities. Since 1962, D&AD has set industry standards, educated and inspired the next generation and, more recently, has demonstrated the impact of creativity and innovation on enhancing business performance.

Each year D&AD invests around £2 million running 18 different education programmes providing support for universities and colleges and their students and graduates, as well as working on behalf of the international creative community to bridge the gap between education and the workplace.

As part of the sponsorship deal, we set a creative brief for students to develop digital widgets that would make the most of BBC's content and present it in a compelling and engaging way. This was the first time that an 'interactive design' brief has been set in these awards, reflecting the importance of the web and digital platforms to the design world.

We see this as a unique way for the BBC to contribute to the outreach work that D&AD does in design education. Also, as sponsors we have the opportunity to engage with the D&AD academic network and release our staff to run workshops and portfolio surgeries for students.

Steve Gibbons, Head of Visual Design, and I led the judging panel at Olympia earlier this month with the help of some creative peers. We selected a shortlist to make it 'in book', as well as picking the very best entries to be awarded pencils. The prize winning four did not discover exactly where they had come until the awards ceremony on July 2, when I was delighted to join them on stage to award their yellow pencils.

All the prize winners and runners up in the interactive design brief can now be seen at on the D&AD site.

The first price was awarded to Christian Söderholm and Dennis Rosenqvistfor their innovative proposal for a tool that would enable audiences to tag video content and add layers of detail and links to these tags - and then share them. Their pacy and compelling video describes their concept, titled TAGPlayer, brilliantly.

Even though there are some questions about the technological feasibility, the energy and completeness of their vision led all the judges to select their entry as the overall winner.

Congratulations to all of those design students that have made it onto the D&AD website. There presence marks them out as the top 2% of the thousands who entered.

As a footnote to this, I have just been involved in short listing interaction designer trainee applications for the BBC Design trainee scheme and this year has seen a five fold increase in numbers.

It's a terrific initiative that enables designers of various disciplines including makeup, costume, digital etc to take up paid employ with the BBC for a year. This includes opportunities to move around the corporation experiencing life in it's various manifestations and divisions.

Adam Powers is the Head of User Experience & Design, BBC Audio & Music interactive and Mobile.


  • Comment number 1.

    Hi Adam

    On a slight tangent from the topic of this post (but I couldn't find any other way to get in touch with you/your dept, and I'd say it falls under the UX remit), the styling of your text links is *very* hard to distinguish from the rest of the text. I don't have any visual impairment, and I'm not browsing with colours turned off or any browser preferences changed, but I really have trouble picking out the links. Perhaps underline? Make them bold? Change the colour?

    As I said, sorry for the slightly off-topic comment, but just wanted to mention it.

  • Comment number 2.

    HeyHudson - Paul is looking into this. And using bold a bit more.

    But you're off topic.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 6.

    Hi, Really love the open communications on your redesigns. I've been following your last few redesigns with great interest and think it adds so much to the UX IXD space to have someone as large as the BBC showing their processes and considerations. Is there a way to find out any specific information from you guys, for example you moved the 'customise and reset this page' functionality to the bottom of the page, I worked on a similar project and the argument was it should be at the top 'like the BBC' but i wanted it down the bottom (mainly because repeat customisation wasn't a goal of the user) we had limited ways of testing the implementation but I would love to know why you moved it. There are other elements of the design id love to have more insight on is there any way of getting this insight?
    Again, great work, and thank you.
    PS if gaining the insight means I have to go work in your UX dept then so be it, ill pack my bags :)

  • Comment number 7.

    I just noticed i posted on the wrong page, sincerest apologies.

  • Comment number 8.

    #6 and #7
    Hi Richard, I'm always keen to hear more from the UXD team on the blog too. Thanks for the positive comment which I'm sure will encourage them to open up the doors,

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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