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Reimagining the BBC's TV channels in a four screen world

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Dan Taylor Dan Taylor | 14:05 UK time, Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Hand holds the BBC Three homepage on a mobile phone, in front of a tablet and a laptop showing the same.

BBC Three homepage across three platforms

It's 3 years 8 months since the BBC last refreshed the websites of BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three & BBC Four and, to misquote Harold Wilson, 3 years 8 months is a long time in online.

On the 16th September 2008, there was no Apple iPad, Google Android was still in beta and BBC iPlayer had yet to celebrate its first birthday.

Today's launch reflects just how transformational the past few years have been. Rather than a static website designed for a single screen size (the PC), the new channel sites are responsively designed to work across multiple screen sizes and orientations. This chimes with the 'four screens' ambition of the BBC Online strategy and is the BBC's first attempt to design responsively across PC, tablet and mobile. Whilst there's still some polishing to do (e.g. support for swiping on touch screen devices), it feels like an important step in the right direction. Look out for a blog post from my Future Media colleague, Dave Killeen, on the technical challenges of building these pages responsively.

The new designs also reflect the increasingly mainstream nature of on demand viewing. The previous designs had space to showcase just two programmes to watch in BBC iPlayer; the new designs enable the display of up to 35, thanks to the introduction of a carousel (part of the BBC's Global Experience Language).

What's being broadcast live on the channels has also been given greater prominence and made more responsive to the time of day. Anchored in the first panel of the carousel, the live panel automatically increases in size during peak time and reducing again during off-peak hours. Online viewing of the channel simulcasts has been steadily increasing since 2008 and now accounts for 15% of BBC iPlayer TV viewing requests.

It's now easier to flip between BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three & BBC Four, with quick links in the navigation bar, alongside a link to the full TV Guide, which showcases all BBC TV channels and those of the BBC's interlinking partners, all with 'backwards EPG' functionality, providing quick links to on demand assets where available.

The TV Guide has addressable views for the UK's various nations and regions, which can therefore be bookmarked (here's Wales) and there are more regionalisation features in the pipeline.

Despite using a single set of templates, the new designs also aim to reflect the unique personalities of each of the four channels, not just visually but in terms of their content offers. For example, the BBC Four carousel includes thematic collections of classic archive programmes (e.g. Army,All American, Talk), whilst BBC Three (which we relaunched last week) reflects activity on its social media presences and offers a 'Feed My Funny' filter of snackable comedy, made exclusively for the web.

We'll be continuing to enrich these pages over the coming months, but I'd love to hear what you think of where we've got to so far.

Dan Taylor is Executive Editor, TV & iPlayer


  • Comment number 1.

    Oh BBC.

    I like the idea of what you've done but......It's just not very good. How often was it tested beforehand?

    I wanted to watch something on BBC Four earlier. Using "Watch Live" as I always used to, is made harder now that I have to wait for each tile to appear. I'm on a laptop, so a lot of the touchscreen functionality doesn't really have much point.

    I love the BBC. I stand up for the licence fee every time an argument starts. But.....then you do this!

  • Comment number 2.

    Wow - it's so modern and easy to use, and there's so much more to watch than before. I think these new sites are amazing, and I've got an iPad and they look super on it! The new sites seem really fresh and I'm finding good programmes that I didn't even know about - I'm even starting to watch BBC Four!

  • Comment number 3.

    Does this mean you can watch bbc channels on iPad natively?? What a out red butto?

  • Comment number 4.

    Are there any plans on producing an iPlayer app for the Windows Phone?

  • Comment number 5.

    Thanks for your comments. A few responses:

    @Liam - Sorry to hear you're finding it harder to watch live. We will be working to improve page load times over the coming weeks, so you shouldn't have to wait so long for the tiles to appear. We did carry out user testing during the development process and will continue to listen to feedback and iterate the pages accordingly. Please do leave another comment if you have other ideas on how you think we could improve the experience.

    @Emma - Thanks for the positive feedback. Delighted to hear you're finding programmes you wouldn't otherwise have known about and are discovering the joys of BBC Four :)

    @Bhayat2 - Yes, you can watch BBC channels live on iPad. Just click the LIVE panel (top left on each of the homepages). The digital TV Red Button experience isn't currently replicated online although this is an area we're exploring.

    @Henry - I see my colleague Dave Killeen has responded to your question on his post. Sorry we're not able to comment on future plans.

    Dan Taylor
    Executive Editor, TV & iPlayer

  • Comment number 6.

    Does it work out of the UK?

  • Comment number 7.

    i love the new styling, I hope it get's rolled across not only most of the desktop pages but also mobile pages

  • Comment number 8.

    Why are regional features 'in the pipeline'? If you can't have the pages cater to everybody in the UK wait to release them until you can, it isn;t only people in London that pay licence fees you know.

    The your location function does not work on the TV homepage, it only works on the full TV guide page. Much like every single new page design in the last 6 months it now takes jumping through hoops, over long scrolling and endless clicking to new oages to find anything that might interest anybody outside one part of this country,

  • Comment number 9.

    The redesign on the desktop looks amazing and this continues from that. Really good to see something updated so well. The colours would change to compliment the main photograph, like so. I had bbc.co.uk as my homepage ever since I started using the internet, but earlier this year I changed it to the main BBC News webpage. The possibility to access my favorite website from any place with my mobile is really great!
    Alice [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 10.

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


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