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Olympic Favourites

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Andrew Pipes Andrew Pipes | 13:14 UK time, Friday, 29 June 2012

Hi I'm Andy Pipes, and I lead the product development for the Sport Olympics website. Today we're launching "Olympic favourites", a way to personalise your experience of the Olympic Games. With one click you can keep up to date with the latest news and stats from any athlete, country or olympic sports you're interested in. This blog post describes how it works.

The BBC Sport website will tell the story of this year's Olympic Games with over 10,000 pages of content about the events, countries and athletes taking part.

How do you keep on top of all the news, schedules and stats about the people and activities that interest you most when the occasion is in full swing?

We hope Favourites allows you to do just that.

When you're browsing the new Olympics web site, you will notice light grey "plus" symbols next to important names: athletes such as Rebecca Adlington, collections of events such as Table Tennis, specific events such as the Women's Pole Vault, and competing countries like Team GB.

These plus symbols are a way into a simple but smart bookmarking system.

Athletics / add to favourites

Roll over the plus symbol, and you'll see the text "Add to Favourites" appear in green. Click on this text, and you're telling us that you'd like that person or thing to be added to your personal list of items to keep track of.

Press the button and you'll notice a pop-up message telling you that you have added the item to your favourites, and a prompt for you to open what we call the 'favourites tray'. Opening the tray reveals a grid of five boxes waiting to be filled with your favourite athletes, countries and events.

The Favourites Tray

You have chosen 3 favourites; 2 spaces left

The tray displays the latest headline for each of up to five favourites, as well as links to their pages on the site. The favourites tray follows you around the BBC Sport site, so that you can check in and see what's new for your favourites whilst you're reading a story, or watching a video.

Your Olympic favourites is full. Replace Jamaica with Men's Laser?

If you've already added five items, and attempt to follow a sixth by pressing the Add to Favourites button, a menu will appear asking you which of your existing favourites you'd like to replace with the new one.

Your Favourites Page

The favourites tray also contains a link to a personalised page. Click on the link saying Favourites Page. Here, you'll receive more news from your favourites, links to share your favourites activity with your social network friends, and a special detail panel that updates throughout the Games.

Each type of item - be it person, place or activity - is displayed in your favourites page alongside the most relevant stats for that subject.


Asafa Powell stories

Before the Olympics has started, if you've selected an athlete for your favourites, you'll see the start date of the first of their events listed in the detail panel, so you will know when they will get out of the blocks. Then, during the Games, the detail panel will list out all of your athletes' results, including medals.


Team GB

If you support a national team, when you select them as a favourite, the detail panel will - up to the start of the Games - display the medal totals for that team in Beijing 2008 as well as surface their top medal sport four years ago. During the Games, the medal counts are replaced by live medal tallies, and top medal sports for London 2012.

Collection of events (e.g. Swimming)


Before the Games, your detail panel will show you a few facts: when that sport starts in July or August, and which country took its top honours in the Beijing Games. During the London Games, this detail panel transforms into a mini-schedule for that sport, displaying its 3 upcoming events. And after all the events in that sport are complete, the detail panel will show which country or countries performed best this year.

Specific event (e.g. Women's 3m Springboard)

Womens 3m Springboard, with related stories from the divers teams

Before the event kicks off, the detail panel shows two items - a countdown clock to the first day of the event, and the athlete or team who won the event in Beijing four years ago.

Then, as the event gets into full swing, the detail panel will tell you exactly which rounds or matches of the event are coming up next. Then, when all the action is over in that event, the favourites page will display the medalists alongside the latest news for the event.

I hope that you explore this new feature in the run-up to the Games, and use it as an integral piece of your Olympics experience on the BBC Sport website.

Please let me know in the comments your thoughts on the service, and how we might improve it in future releases.

Andrew Pipes is Senior Product Manager, Sport & Olympics 2012, BBC Future Media


  • Comment number 1.

    This is a really great feature, but why only 5 favourites? I've filled all those with just the collections of events that I consider unmissable, I can't even find space for Team GB!

  • Comment number 2.

    @Clare We're glad you like the feature and are using it! Re the limit currently of 5 favourites: due to the increased number of API calls this feature makes to our services, we decided that for the first iteration, we would create a maximum that ensured that our systems could handle the load if a significant percentage of our Olympics audience used it. We will be monitoring this over the Games to see whether we have been too cautious, and increase this limit in future versions of the feature if we don't see it being a problem.

  • Comment number 3.

    Fair enough, thanks for actually replying!

  • Comment number 4.

    Is it possible to turn this off on non-Olympic pages? I'm not in the least bit interested in anything Olympic, and find it really intrusive and annoying.

  • Comment number 5.

    Great idea, any chance that you can make the feature actually work.

    Getting asked if you want to favourite the GB athlete Dai Green when you are on a page about ex-Rangers FC is a bit ridiculous.

  • Comment number 6.

    How do I turn this blasted feature off? I already bypass your homepage because of all the additional "improvements" added on your last "upgrade". Do I need to move completely to another site that lets me choose what appears on my screen?

  • Comment number 7.

    Yes, how do you get rid of this rubbish? Did it get misdirected from CBeebies?

  • Comment number 8.

    @6/7 - Select a favourite, have cookies enabled and then close the favourites bar.

  • Comment number 9.

    @TerminalJunkie, @PaulDrew, @mismanager sorry for not responding sooner. As @DBOne says, all you have to do is close the Favourites tray by clicking on "Olympics Favourites" and it won't roll down again on that computer. This feature will only run for the duration of the Games. Hopefully it's not intrusive when you've rolled the tray up into its button form.

  • Comment number 10.

    Andy, I think the favourites is a great feature given the huge amount of content.. I'm using the latest Firefox 14.0.1 though and the rolling over the plus symbol doesn't seem to do anything on my screen - cookies are enabled.. anything else I need to do?

    As a related aside, I came across a satirical [off-topic URL removed by Moderator] post on a South African blog which I thought you might enjoy! Any chance of streaming similar olympics related blog posts on the site?

  • Comment number 11.

    Hi Anna,

    Thanks for your comment. This blog post is not about South African politics, so the link is, though, off-topic.



  • Comment number 12.

    @Anna are you logged into BBC iD and have received the message saying that your favourites have been saved to your profile? If so, then clear your browser's cache & cookies and try to favourite again. We haven't encountered a problem with that specific browser before. Let me know if that fixes things. If not we will try something else!

  • Comment number 13.

    Andy, Thanks very much for the advice on dismissing the "Olympic Favourites" feature - it really was blighting the Cricket page. But it was not obvious from there how one could close it - I assumed if I clicked on that area I would be stuck with it, rather than purge it. So perhaps a dismissal feature could be more obvious next time?

    Sadly, I agree with Mismanager. The BBC was a superb site but, item-by-item, day-by-day, childish things such as this are being introduced which ruin a proper appreciation of the items. The main BBC page is now intolerable and the Sports' pages are now such an awful mess that finding items (and there is much excellent journalism, hidden behind the recent junk interfaces) is increasingly tiresome.

    Change is neither good nor bad per se. But good changes enhance the experience and, I would contend, should provide as transparent barrier between customer and content as possible. Thus, yes by all means have an Olympic Favourites feature if that seems a good idea (I cannot comment: I have no interest in the Olympics) but do not then allow that feature to interfere in your mission to deliver good content.

    I have no idea who or what team is driving these website changes but it has had a devastatingly bad effect for those who appreciate quality content without flummery, rather than pretty pages preventing good communication. It really is all so very sad - these pages used to be excellent.


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