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Brief Lives - Episode 3

The new Radio 4 web site

Tuesday 31 March 2009, 11:44

Mark Damazer Mark Damazer

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The Radio 4 website was in need of an overhaul and today - after a lot of work and audience research - comes a new one. The disappearing site was rather cluttered and things were often difficult to find. Under the surface the edifice was kept together by increasingly frayed technology. So I hope you find the new one easier to use, that you use it more often and that you can find what you want more quickly.

There's one new feature in particular which I hope you will find rewarding - the topical subjects area on our new homepage. You can choose one of the individual subjects/topics listed - then click and you will be linked to current R4 material on that subject (Try Barack Obama or Recession). Similar links will appear on many of our new programme pages. At the moment we can't do that with as many subjects as we'd like - but we intend to build on what we have and add many more . Doubtless there will be some problems - but we will iron them out. But for the time being - enjoy it and I know that R4's interactive team would welcome constructive feedback.

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    Comment number 41.

    It wasn't in need of an update - change for change's sake.

    Still whilst the rest of us are suffering I suppose it keeps you in work.

    As for me - well from visiting almost daily - sometimes for just a minute at a time - I'll probably stop using.

    Any website that has a 'tour' to show you how to navigate it surely has missed the point.

    BBC bigwigs understand this - evolution yes, revolution no - this is (after all) radio 4.

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    Comment number 42.

    Looks good, but can't find anything. Too much scrolling, not clear which shows have current podcasts, apparently no listen live button.
    Can't find quizzes.
    Much better when everything was on one page and I could choose what I wanted to listen to, rather than track things down.
    It's so difficult, I have actually registered to use the blog to complain!

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    Comment number 43.

    I am quite sad that the new site appears to be just another example of the dumbing down that is taking place in the BBC in general, but Radio 4 in particular. The old site was VERY easy to use, contained news headlines that were easy to access. It was informative. The new site contains no news headlines on its opening pages, but lots of links to 'celebrity' opinion blogs, where Radio 4 'celebrities' and their fans can air their opinions. Information this is not. If I want an opinion I can go to the bar. The irony of using your 'blog' to give you this information is not lost

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    Comment number 44.

    Some other things are missing. Where is the 'Listen Again' button? Do you still have a 'Listen Again' schedule?
    I agree with a lot of the comments already in that something that doesn't need changing should not be changed. The site looks rather 'Hello'-ish, and the mouse-typing is simply silly.

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    Comment number 45.

    What a dog's breakfast you've made of the drama section of the R4 website. The old website was easy to follow with the current week's plays listed with transmission dates and last weeks plays still available to listen again. The new website is much less informative and not easy to use. Why couldn't you leave well alone???

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    Comment number 46.

    This must be seriously bad - I have never been tempted to actually follow through with signing up to any blog/comment site on any issue until now, so upset am I!
    Oh dear, where do we start?
    Where is everything? I am not anti-progress, but I have been trying to find out what programme is actually playing now (without listening live through my computer) - used to be very clear on old site - but no chance!
    I see by previous comments that I'm not alone, much of what I was going to say is already there.
    Do you really have so little idea what kind of people listen to Radio 4? I am amazed at your ignorance!
    I wonder how much it all cost to set up? Let me tell something - you wasted your money!

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    Comment number 47.

    Yes a listen live button would be brilliant.

    Also, you used to have 'now and next', now all you have is 'now playing'. I'd really like to know what is on next too!

    The big picture on the home page is too big for so little information.

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    Comment number 48.

    No wait! I've found the listen live button, hurrah! Jolly good.

    Getting used to the site now too.

    Looks quite pretty :)

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    Comment number 49.

    @37: If you're lucky your comedy's right there - if not, it's the A-Z, or you can always try the four subcategories. Now, you can't decide whether it's satire, sitcom, etc - worst case scenario, 5 clicks. With lots of scrolling around because the programs are not in an alphabetical order.
    The old site - one click on comedy and hey presto, everything that's on right now is there in a simple alphabetic list.
    Just as well I'd subscribed to many podcasts before so can keep getting those without hassle, but the beneficial laughter I was getting from my weekly dose of comedy will now be to some extent offset by the annoyance generated looking for it.

    I expect I'll get used to it - where I come from we say that one can get used to anything, even to the gallows.
    Now, can someone tell me where the Archers omnibus is buried, please?

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    Comment number 50.

    Like another blogger I don't usually sign on to comment but felt strongly about this one....I may be slow to pick up changes but I can only see the programme that's on at this particular moment, for today's programmes. If I want to find out the rest of today's programmes I need to click 'schedule' which produces a long, same-colour list. In fact I agree with nearly all the criticisms voiced so far, sadly - you have to scroll down or use buttons or redirect yourself to "genre' sections.....the former home page was actually more user friendly in that you could see at a glance what was on that day and then timetable your day around what you wanted to listen to!
    Good that you can easily see Listen again programmes.
    I 'd also like to add that I have many friends and relations who have been brought up since babyhood on Radio 4, and are addicts too, and don't want change.........it was designed to be the more intellectual station, so why try and change things when it seems it's for change's sake, or dumb it down - the BBC has created many 'genre' radio stations for other tastes.....
    Please keep (and even develop?) our "intelli" radio ! What is there to be ashamed of ! We should be deeply grateful we CAN have Radio 4 - try other worldwide radio stations !

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    I've noticed a lot of people seem to have trouble finding the listen live button. I dismissed these people at first for not looking properly but it's since occured to me that the layout perhaps breaks the "new visual language" and thus is why it might be confusing,

    On every other site in the Barlesque design it has a BBC masthead, then the site banner.

    Radio 4 has the listen live bar in between these.

    Perhaps it would be better - and more obvious - if it was underneath the logo like on the other radio sites. This might be why people seem to be missing the thing.

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    Comment number 52.

    Nope - don't like it - nothing to do with change for change's sake.

    Far too much scrolling, a dumbed down visual version with L A R G E "Can you read it??" type.

    - Same with the schedule.

    I don't require flashy visuals


    - Please, please, just tell me what's on, what I may have missed and is choice, and common links. This is too, too much IN MY FACE and I do NOT appreciate it!! - and Yes, I AM shouting in type.

    It ain't broke - so don't fix it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    This new Website is really awful.

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    Comment number 54.

    Initial reaction, don't like it , too much visual stuff, and I couldn't find the Archers messageboard right away as of old, so big demerit there!

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    Comment number 55.

    i had a play around with it for a couple of days now...and i still dont like it.

    i agree with previous comments about large fonts and wasted space at the top of the page, and too much scrolling neccessary.

    the old site worked. this one is too different.

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    Comment number 56.

    Oh, how I agree with most of the criticisms voiced so far. We want quickly accessible info. on what is available and when. Not pictures!!!! or hoops to jump through. Give us a list of programmes with quick links to info about them.
    Lets have less chat and pictures about what the creators of the new website have done, and give us a site that was as user-friendly as the old one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    For all those poor souls who hate the new site - ignore the picture that dominates the first page - look at the tool bar above it.

    Click on "schedule" and you get the day's programmes.

    Click on "programmes" and you get a list which is revealed alphabetically. Click on "A" and you get all the programmes beginning with "A" etc. The list is long but efficient considering the length of the total list of programmes.

    Otherwise, if you can decide the genre of your programme you might get to what you want, faster.

    I think if the pictures and razzmataz had been less evident we would have all found the new web site easier to use and less upsetting.

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    Comment number 58.

    The new layout is fine by me, the only thing I miss is the *Today's Weather* pic and info (configured for London) which was the first thing I always looked at after logging on in the morning. Rather a weird habit I'm afraid, seeing that I'm more than 9,000 km away in São Paulo.

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    Comment number 59.

    Liked old website. Don't like new website. Have to scroll new website too much to see the content. You say old website was cluttered - well I didn't have a problem with it, but if one of the aims of the new one was to be un-cluttered - well you failed that one completely.

    And yes I really did want to press the back button during the blog registration process - it's a standard way of going back to the previous page. Most websites can cope with it - why can't yours?

    Unhappy of Norwich...

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    Comment number 60.

    ...and I neglected to say, I signed up with the blog especially to say I don't like the new website.

    Can we have the old one back please?
    If not, I don't think I'll bother coming back much...


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