A new homepage for BBC Archive
As well as deciding which gems from the BBC Archive we're going to make available, we also need to continually review ways of making our existing content easier to find. With so many interesting things turning up with every collection - the Alanbrooke Diaries and the tributes to Churchill being recent examples - it's often too easy for us to focus on the collections we are about to launch and forget to update the architecture as we go.
A recent revamp of the BBC Archive homepage includes a few new features that will hopefully make finding content that little bit easier.
Now that the Archive site has more than 40 collections, we realised visitors to the site might appreciate different ways of browsing the content. The Collections page originally listed collections in reverse order of release, but we felt that the release order had more meaning to us than our users, so the page has been reordered with collections grouped into themes. We've also added an RSS feed to the Collections page so you can see when new content is added to the site.
We've added new pages to allow you to search for specific programme titles and people, accessed from the new, brighter navigation bar. The People pages collate programmes, documents and images specific to an individual contributor and, where the contributor appears in a gallery, you can click on thumbnails of the image to leap straight to that specific image. Have a look at our David Attenborough page for an example.
The latest tweets on our Twitter feed are now available via our homepage. We know Twitter has a marmite quality for some, but we've been really pleased with how our feed has been received by Twitterers who like to forward our comments to their own followers. There are still some discussions on the best way to display this, so if you're on Twitter, let us know what you think (or you can drop us a line via the feedback link at the bottom of our Help page).
The new 'Today's Choice' box allows us the opportunity to make the page feel more topical. Of course, handling material that's often more than 50 years old might not feel topical to some, but as the activity around our Bank Holidays collection showed, if you're stuck indoors looking at the rain tricking down the window on your day off, you might gain some comfort to discover that for British Bank Holidays it was always thus.
We've added more links to other areas on the BBC that contain archive material, such as the 'In Our Time' archive and recommended links to elsewhere on the web, like the Imperial War Museum. This is an area we'll be keeping an eye on because there are so many great places to link to and only a finite number of slots for us to use. Hopefully the links will be useful for those visitors to the site who wish to find out what other archive resources exist out there.
We're continuing to tinker under the bonnet for more features in the future. We're hoping to be able to improve our Programmes page to allow multiple editions from the same series to be grouped together, so that fans of, say, 'Tomorrow's World', will be able to keep track of additional editions that appear within other collections. We'll be continuing to look into the BBC's war archive of course, to commemorate various anniversaries in the near future too, and next week, as part of the BBC's Year of Science, we'll be launching a collection that should be of interest to anyone who's ever wondered how elastic bands tell us a staggering amount about the universe around us. Stay tuned for more.
Jim Sangster is an Assistant Content Producer, BBC Archive.