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Update: News and Sport low graphics switch-off

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Anthony Sullivan | 11:25 UK time, Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Thank you to everyone for your comments about the closure of the low graphics service.

I appreciate that the mobile version does not offer the same full range of content but that is something we will be working on in the coming months.

I referred to a new suite of tools which we hope to make available in the summer. These should allow you to easily select a simplified version of the News site - much like low graphics - whatever we have on the full web version should also be available there too.

In my first post I referred to the changes we are making to the News site. This includes a new design but also significant technical changes that amongst other things will produce fully compliant HTML and CSS.  For those of you who use a text browser, you will get a much better experience than you have had in the past.

The changes will also support enhancements to our mobile output. Whereas now we offer a service that has to work across the range of mobile devices, in future we will be providing a richer array of services that better suite the varying capabilities of device. That will include the volume of news content.

Given these other changes that are making, we made the decision to close low graphics because we felt these other improvements would meet the same needs of our audience. Ideally we would have had these in place first but unfortunately that was not possible as we were reengineering the system that provided that version.

Anthony Sullivan is Executive product manager, BBC news website.


  • Comment number 1.

    I am sure that these changes will NOT give me access to stories that are delivered wholly or in major part in video. For very few stories video provides information better than that text + stills could deliver

    Maybe you could discuss this with the BBC College of Journalism.

  • Comment number 2.

    Please advise if the series Start up Stories is available in text format and if not how the content can be viewed by my daughter in Canada

  • 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.

    I greatly miss the low graphics version. Previously the news front page would always load instantly, now it sometimes sits there spinning with a noticeable delay before anything appears. More importantly though, I enjoyed seeing all the articles at the SAME LEVEL, even on a regular computer and not a small mobile device. I used to read a lot of the lower priority articles which were often very interesting but are now buried and easily missed as a link in some sidebar.

  • Comment number 6.

    Oh dear ,more wasted funds on words like "Richer" "Enhanced" "Sorry"
    I customised the BBC News Site ,used it all day long , and found it very easy to use . Why on earth have thousands of pounds of license payers money been given over to produce a very difficult site to read ?
    As your "Customers" wanted a badly designed website with more advertising and all their quick references moved,I'm sure you will be able to produce the survey results showing this ? ..... I think NOT .

    I cannot get iPlayer in France ,that would have committed me totally to the BBC site ,but now ....Au revoir .

  • Comment number 7.

    What an ugly redesign. The previous design was near perfect, easy to read and subtly attractive. The new one looks as though it has been thrown together in the dark, the text placement, columns, captions and button graphics are amateur at best, its a total disappointment.

    I previously visited the BBC news website as it was the best and most easy to view news site, I will now probably not bother as its layout annoys me too much to bother finding the stories I find relevant.

    total waste of time, money and effort.

  • Comment number 8.

    This new page is completely unacceptable and not fit for purpose. At least give us a link to view it in the old style.

  • Comment number 9.

    You're starting to look like CNN now. When something works, I don't understand why you spend more money hiring web designers to revamp something that works well. Guess it justifies some people's jobs. Now everybody has to undergo yet another period of figuring out the new site (or not bother and get news elsewhere as the quality of bbc news is going down anyway). The site is not that intuitive to navigate. This probably won't get published either...

  • Comment number 10.

    Could you please make the following tweaks to the new BBC News page layout:
    1. Under the 'World' tab in the menu at the top of the page, could you please group the regions by geographical location rather than alphabetical order? It is jarring to find that 'US and Canada' is not next to 'Latin America', and that Europe is between 'Asia-Pacific' and the 'Middle East'.

    2. Could you please remove the links to every language and every 'country profile' at the bottom of all stories? They are not necessary, as links to 'country profiles' or 'change language' would suffice. This would remove clutter on the site and speed up load times.

    3. Could you please move the 'links about this story' box back to the right-hand side? Your stated policy is to increase outbound traffic to other news sources, yet by placing links at the bottom of the story they take longer to find as the reader has to manually scroll down to the end of the story.

    4. It makes more sense to remove the 'Most Popular Stories' box from the right-hand side of each page and replace it with the contextual content related to the specific story (e.g. 'Analysis'; 'in-depth'; previous stories on the topic). This is because most readers do not care what other readers are reading, as they have their own individual tastes. It is preferable to put all content related the the instant story where it is most easily visible, rather than forcing the reader to have to scroll down to the bottom of each page.

    Finally, here's a daring thought - why not allow all users to customise the BBC News site layout by making the boxes containing each type of content draggable? Thus, some readers who prefer it could have the menu down the left-hand side and contextual stories or links down the right; while others can keep the new look.

  • Comment number 11.

    What is wrong with you people at the BBC? Do you not realise that we the taxpayer are funding you? How much have you spent redesiging this website that frankly looks worse. Is the online department trying to justify jobs for its staff by constant redesigning?

    The new design is not user friendly, I don't know who in your organisation thought it was.

  • Comment number 12.

    Please direct any comments about the BBC News website redesign to this post.

  • Comment number 13.

    So, according to the statement above, you made a decision you knew would result in a diminution in the level of service to disabled people using the text only version. I would be interested to see your discussion of this change in service level with your disabled user community -- you know, the one you are legally required to conduct under your Disability Equality Duty, as mandated by the Disability Discrimination Act, 2005

  • Comment number 14.

    The ceasing of the news.bbc.co.uk URL is a real pain. It was one of the few URLs that our company's firewall didn't block, and was great to look at over lunchtime and during breaks. All www.bbc.co.uk URLs are blocked and will stay blocked, so 120,000 staff at one of the country's biggest banks now cannot access the BBC news website. Thanks a lot BBC for consulting your users before implementing this decision.

  • Comment number 15.

    Has the BBC never heard the saying "If it works don't fix it". Especially when it costs money to "fix it". Sorry, I mean ruin it.

    The new web site design is dreadful. It is far more difficult to navigate and looks as if the redesign was a cost cutting exercise.
    The site was an award winning gold standard of web page design, now it looks as bad as the other web news services.

    What's next in this move down market? A charge to access each page or maybe annoying pop-up commercials.

  • Comment number 16.

    The new news page is a disappointment.

    Don't get me wrong, I think the BBC Homepage is brilliant, but this appears to use a different technology and is no where near as well conceived.

    Rule 1 of UI development is that you don't give the UI developers bigger screens than the typical users.

    The old news page was compact and navigable as a window (i.e. not full screen) on a 15" laptop. The new one requires considerable scrolling even on a 17" monitor and probably on a 19".

    The whole point of HTML is the the hyperlink and navigation. There is too much here and I can't filter it.

    Graphics and features are pointless if they can't be found.

  • Comment number 17.

    Really hate the new front page...It takes too many clicks to get to see what I want....
    I found this new lay out more confusing than the last one....
    Normally, I use to love changes when they improve "my life"....
    Front BBC page out of my favourite ones..
    Bye Bye BBC...

  • Comment number 18.

    The new look is a big usability regression. Arguably this is more than a subjective comment. What about concrete metrics?
    Information density has fallen. What is the ratio of content to white space? The story pages are larger than before, more whitespace, more padding. That is a density loss.
    Information has been lost. The old main page had headlines and short summaries. Now the new main page has some stories with only headlines. There is no space for summaries because of the density reduction and layout changes.
    Readers come to the home page and want to know what is happening. The headlines give the one-liners. The summaries give the overview detail. Now some of the summaries are missing. Headlines are not enough. Often they are jokey or catchy one liners that do not tell the story. They are to catch attention. Please bring back the summary under the headlines.
    The 4 column news story format is terrible. This is not a newspaper. It is much harder to read a story when it has only 2-3 words per line. Unlike print, the wrapping does not use hyphenation. That means more white space is added to pad the lines. This is further waste of space and loss of density.
    As I read the front page now I can see only 4 stories on the screen (hires) that have more than a headline. What kind of news site is this now. You are condeming your readers to scolling and click through when before they could just see it.
    I read that a new technology has been used to generate and render the site. I am not against improvements in your backend publishing systems. However, the re-skinning and re-design has lost what was a well crafted and evolved presentation of the news. There is less infomation and it is spread out over more space.
    Where is low graphics? What about text browsers and a decent mobile browsing experience?
    Millions of people read the BBC news. Why not use them to help you design the site? Run the new site in parallel with the old with easy switching. Have a big feedback button. Ask the crowd for ideas on the format. I can assure you in a million people there will be good ideas. As it stands this failed redesign has been imposed on the world. The "HIPO" problem.
    Please change your processes.
    Run new layouts live as a beta site and go live when users show they prefer it.

  • Comment number 19.

    why not open up the datafeeds as standard web APIs then 3rd parties can mash up the content themselves?

  • Comment number 20.

    The "most popular" box has a massive font and area now. Who designed the new sizes and layout? Have they got eyesight difficulties. All the padding, lines, numbers and borders. It is a total waste of space. Why not a compact list of 10 items?

    The technology changed. Sadly the great compact web design got left behind. Please bring back the original designers. You need them.

  • Comment number 21.

    What to do with all the whitespace down the side? What to do with the gaps in the banner?

    Add a feedback button!
    Add a like/dislike poll.

    Have the courage to ask your audiance what they think of the new site. If these blogs are the only option then your feedback is the tip of the iceberg. User feedback is a valuable resource not an annoyance in the way of backend changes.

    Please change your processes and ask your users...

  • Comment number 22.

    peterH - your comments are off topic on this post. I suggest you leave comments here or here.

  • Comment number 23.

    I am very disappointed to learn that the low bandwidth option has been withdrawn. Not only was it useful when travelling - even in expensive European hotels having a lot of people on line limits bandwidth terribly - it was great for my netbook using a 3G data service, saving scads of unnecessary Gbytes.

    I also found it very good for people with limited vision, who could use the low bandwidth version very easily in the Opera browser, using the magnifcation facility.

  • Comment number 24.

    I am a UK licence payer who also lives in France, when I attempt to log onto the BBC iPlayer in France I am informed that I am out of the area and cannot get service. I do not understand why I cannot use my licence number to use the iPlayer outside UK. It appears that our rights as consumers in the EU are are being withheld. The EU Commission is investigating the anti-competitive behaviour of businesses creating barriers to cross-border products and services.

  • Comment number 25.

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


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