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New home page for BBC blogs

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Jessica Shiel Jessica Shiel | 07:22 UK time, Thursday, 13 January 2011

Today we're launching the Beta of our newly designed blogs homepage and we've added a popup survey to capture your feedback (NB you will need to click through to the blogs homepage to see the relevent survey).

Please take a look and let me know what you think.

Once we're happy that this page is stable and fit for purpose we will begin linking to it from other BBC blogs.

Why we did this

There are nearly 300 BBC blogs on a wide variety of different subjects. We wanted to create a page which showcased the very best BBC blogs but also made it easier for you to discover new content which you might not know about.

The design

There are two use cases for this homepage: the top half of the page showcases what is being talked about in blogs at the moment; this section is dynamic and constantly changing as new content is published. This is for those of you who are looking for some interesting content but without a particular subject in mind.

The lower half of the page is more static to help those looking for something more specific. Blogs are organised by topic and title which can be navigated using tabs or scoped search.

The styling of the new Homepage uses the BBC's Global Experience Language, which brings it in line with the rest of the BBC website.

What's new?

We have added several new sections to this page. Towards the top, there is a featured section which consists of interesting, dramatic or intriguing quotes from editorially chosen blogs to wet your appetite and encourage you to click through and read more.

BBC Blogs home page pull quote

The most recent post appears on the left with its quote displayed as a default. If you roll your mouse over any of the other blog images you will see quotes from the other posts.

'Latest on blogs' highlights up to three of the most recently published posts and includes the first few words from these to give you an idea of what they are about and whether you want to click through to read more. This section will be constantly changing as new posts are published, demonstrating the vast amount of content running through blogs.

'Most read' shows you the details of the blog posts which have had the most audience views and is generated from data captured by Livestats (the same BBC tool which is used to populate the 'Most Popular' section on the BBC News pages).

The idea behind 'my recently viewed' is to be personal to you, to remind you about the blogs you've visited before and may want to visit again. This saves you having to check specific blogs to see if there are any updates; when a new post is published it is reflected here.

The lower half of the page is to aid navigation. We have kept the A-Z and organised the blogs into topics based on the results of a card sorting exercise.

The navigational section of the blogs homepage showing quickfind results

'Quick Find' uses the AutoSuggest widget from the BBC JavaScript library, Glow. It allows you to search for a specific blog's name or author, suggesting results after a minimum of five characters have been entered in the box. Clicking on any of the results will take you to that blog.

We want to hear from you

Please have a look at the newly designed homepage. When you access this page you'll be asked to answer some questions about it. We'd like to gather as much feedback as possible so that we can ensure this page is useful to you.

If you do not see the popup survey, refreshing your browser several times should trigger it. If you have answered a similar survey on a different BBC web page in the last six weeks you will need to delete your browser cookies first.

Jessica Shiel is Product Manager for Blogs, User Services, Programmes and On-Demand, BBC Future Media & Technology


  • Comment number 1.

    I think the 'My Recently Viewed' section will be useful. I like the new BBC Blogs homepage.

  • Comment number 2.

    Not sure if this is the forum for bug reports, but here goes.

    In the "All Blogs" section at the bottom, if you roll your mouse over bloggers' names, it pops up a short description of the blog. Some of these (for example, American Frei) are error messages rather than descriptions.

  • Comment number 3.

    It's not offering me a survey, so here's another comment.

    In the "All Blogs" section, some of the main headings have sub-headings (e.g. Radio), while others don't (e.g. TV). The colour scheme makes the sub-headings quite "toned down", to the point where people may not notice them.

  • Comment number 4.

    The "quick search" is all very nice but what about a more generic search (e.g. if I want to look for blog entries that refer to "iplayer")?


  • Comment number 5.

    Hope it goes better than the BBC changes to messageboards, iPlayer Desktop, and the glitchy changes you have already made to blogs.

    Will the Search feature be implemented on blogs, and include user content ?

    Will 'My Display' work on blogs.

  • Comment number 6.

    Badly designed survey popup

    Today we're launching the Beta of our newly designed blogs homepage and we've added a popup survey to capture your feedback.

    I got a survey popup and completed the survey.

    IIRC the survey was entitled 'BBC Internet Blog'. No doubt someone can confirm that or state what the correct title is. (without me resorting to clearing cookies to get it back)

    Such surveys may be expected to relate therefore to the BBC Internet blogs in general. Surely if such a survey is intended to relate to Beta of our newly designed blogs homepage it should have been headed as as such. (or did I miss-read it; if so I may not be the only one)
  • Comment number 7.

    Dunstan - The survey appears for every fourth page view so you may need to refresh your browser several times. If this doesn't work it probably means that you have answered a survey on another BBC page within the last six months. If you delete the 'pulse' cookie from your browser this should solve it.

  • Comment number 8.

    _ My Discussions _

    Anyone who has made more than a couple of comments will probably be aware of the feature to track ones own, or indeed another posters comments.

    Have you deliberately excluded a my discussions / My Comments option.

    We can still access that through old style messageboards for a while but that facility will be removed shortly.

  • Comment number 9.

    John99 - You need to be on the Homepage itself to fill out the survey. I'll edit my post to make this a bit clearer. The survey on the Internet blog is about the Internet blog.
    Unfortunately you will need to clear the cookie to see the survey on the Blogs Homepage.

  • Comment number 10.

    What I would find useful would be OPML files (collections of RSS feed links) by topic - for all the nature related blogs, for instance.

  • Comment number 11.

    Jessica - thanks for the clarification,


    How long is the survey form going to be on the Homepage for ?
    It probably makes sense to use the new homepage a bit before completing any Survey relating to it.

      Card Sort

    We have kept the A-Z and organised the blogs into topics based on the results of a card sorting exercise.

    Not too sure yet how the Wiki link you provide relates to this. You have already done the card sort exercise and fixed the categories presumably.
    Or is the category list going to grow much like on the previous blogs with presumably blog Authors adding tags.

      External Search Engine - Users comments

    If we have no my discussions, and no BBC search facility on users comments, are we at least going to be able to use external search engines on these, or are the BBC continuing to blocking that.
  • Comment number 12.

    It's an amazing improvement on the old /blogs page which was almost unusable. People are much more likely to use this page and as a result visit a wider range of BBC blogs. Now you just need to get a blogs widget on www.bbc.co.uk.

    Well done to everyone who worked on it.

  • Comment number 13.

    I like it. It does what it says on the tin. The new 'recently viewed' feature turns the page into a faster route*.

    Where the number of 'recently viewed' becomes more than 4, can we pleeeeze have a scrolling thingy in that panel? (In time order, dropping the bottom off according to your setting of 'recent'.)

    Btw, what is your duration setting for 'recent'?


    * that doesn't detract from the need to have a better version of a 'My discussions' page as part of the revamped Profile section of course, but that matter presumably will be regarded as offtopic here

  • Comment number 14.

    The Most Read list needs to be longer.

    The "Latest blog posts" should contain more posts and just list the linkable post titles.

    I don't think the page is dynamic enough. You don't get a sense of continuing conversations, and which blogs are enthusiastically being added to. A simple list of links to blogs that relates to the last blog commented on could act as an indicator of this:

    Bale and Rafael square up again
    Bale and Rafael square up again
    Bale and Rafael square up again
    Obama finds fitting words for Arizona tragedy
    Obama finds fitting words for Arizona tragedy
    Obama finds fitting words for Arizona tragedy
    Obama finds fitting words for Arizona tragedy
    Bale and Rafael square up again
    Obama finds fitting words for Arizona tragedy
    Northern Ireland's big freeze and bigger thaw
    Northern Ireland's big freeze and bigger thaw
    Northern Ireland's big freeze and bigger thaw
    Northern Ireland's big freeze and bigger thaw
    Bale and Rafael square up again
    Obama finds fitting words for Arizona tragedy
    Obama finds fitting words for Arizona tragedy
    England test World Cup credentials
    England test World Cup credentials
    Obama finds fitting words for Arizona tragedy
    Obama finds fitting words for Arizona tragedy

    or better still, the top ten ranked total for the last 500 comments posted:

    1) Bale and Rafael square up again
    2) Obama finds fitting words for Arizona tragedy
    3) Northern Ireland's big freeze and bigger thaw
    4) England test World Cup credentials
    5) Next year's Olympics
    6) F1 teams battle over cost-cutting
    7) Sport Relief Weekend 2010
    8) Putting Quality First
    9) 40 years of The Goodies
    10) Electric car challenge

    perhaps updated every 15 minutes.

  • Comment number 15.

    bug in the Most Read section:

    Currently, one post is being duplicated in positions 1 and 2:


    How Ed Miliband is dealing with the past

    On Nick Robinson's Newslog

    How Ed Miliband is dealing with the past

    On Nick Robinson's Newslog

    Bale and Rafael square up again

    On Football Tactics

    For Sarah Palin, best defence is attack

    On Mark Mardell's America

    Special 1 TV: King Kenny Exclusive

    On The Special 1's blog

  • Comment number 16.

    Hi Jessica,

    Thanks for writing about the background behind this redesign, and asking for feedback on this initial beta version. This blog post itself is a great example of how the BBC Blog Network encourages a discussion between you and the audience, so its great to see the veteran Blog Network homepage get a much needed fresh coat of paint!

    However, I'm incredibly disappointed with this redesign, particularly with regards to the use of GEL which you mentioned in your post, for this site seems to make a mere token gesture to those guidelines without understanding how they can be used to the fullest.

    GEL does more than just provide a visual aesthetic; it also provides a number of design patterns too, in which detailed interactions and behaviours have been thought about in detail and designs provided. Yet it appears this redesign has taken GEL to simply mean ’big text set in Arial’.

    This site completely ignores the best practices set out in the design pattern for auto suggest components, the implementation of which is woefully incomplete here. There is no indication that the live results are being fetched (no spinner graphic for example), you can't navigate the results list by keyboard, and there's no indication of which result has been highlighted. You can see the design pattern I'm referring to here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/guidelines/gel/downloads/GEL_Autosuggest.pdf

    That said, the searchable directory is far more useful than the list used in the previous design, although I'm not sure tooltips are the best means of presenting additional information about each blog, as they quickly get irritating and at times get 'stuck' and obscure other links.

    The underlying UX appears sound, if a little unimaginative, yet there is little visual flair; indeed, the site appears to be little more than a coloured in wireframe. It fails to engage me in the discussions being had, and the three modules (Latest/Most read/Recently Viewed) make no attempt to display discussions in a way appropriate to the content being presented; the latest blog posts are heavily truncated for example.

    You compare the ‘Most read’ module with a similar module used on the BBC News homepage, but this only serves to acutely highlight the attention to detail absent from this site. Further examples of this can be seen in how the heading for ‘Most recently viewed’ wraps on to two lines with ‘viewed’ obscured from view, and the footer using a design from the older GVL2 guidelines.

    I understand the site is in beta, so I provide my feedback with that in mind, hopeful that the issues I've raised prove useful to you and your team as you refine the site over the coming months.

  • Comment number 17.

    Personally i didn't like it and found it difficult as a new user to find what i was looking for. There is a lot of good content within the BBC blogs but its such a shame its nor optimised properly for people to find it online through search engines.

  • Comment number 18.

    Yesterday, in the list of latest blog posts, the blogs home page listed an entry to a blog called the 'audio, music and social media blog' (blogs/amsocmed/) and today there is an entry for the 'webwise beginners blog' (blogs/webwise/). Neither of these is listed in the blog list, and both give me an error 403 (access denied).



  • Comment number 19.

    There seems to be some confusion about what is going on here. I am utterly dazed, slow down and take a breath.


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