In June of this year we released a beta version of the new Radio and Music product. Since then we have received thousands of emails from users via our Feedback page, and even more people have taken the time to fill in surveys to tell us what they like and dislike about the site.
It's been fascinating seeing people's reactions to the new station homepages over these 4 months, watching as a number of trends became apparent. This post is a current summary of that feedback and a brief look at what we've done as a result.
The Radio 4 beta homepage
"Please cut out the pretty graphics and present the info at a glance."
The key thing users have told us they would like to see improved is navigation to core pages that they are used to accessing on the existing homepages. For example, some users found it hard to get to the station schedule, the programme A-Z list, categories or on-demand programmes they wanted to listen to.
For some Radio 4 users in particular, there was confusion when the initial view of Radio 4 was the "Highlights" section, as opposed to the "On Air Now" space, meaning they found it hard to find the "Listen Live" button. Others found it hard at first to find the podcasts they were looking for.
"I like the new look, but took me a minute or two to find the listen live button."
Interestingly, research found that the most frequent users of the existing Radio 4 site found the new pages least easy to use, whilst those who were less frequent users tended to be more positive about the new designs. This was not surprising, as generally the more familiar a user is with a website, the longer it takes to get used to changes to that site.
"Got to say the beta website looks great. It is a massive improvement on the current website."
On the design front, many people liked the new layout, describing it as "modern", whilst others felt that the overall impression was of being too dark.
"Generally, I like the difference and I particularly like the boldness and vitality added by the use of the large, simple photos and graphics."
Another key theme was that users frequently wanted to visit a programme page for relevant information, but not actually listen to the programme.
"By clicking, I just started listening to the latest episode, when what I wanted to do was to just discover more about it."
Tablet users, iPads mainly, have told us that they want to listen to live radio streams, and people who visit the sites on their smart phones have said they want to listen to stations including local radio.
We have read through all the emails and survey results, and have already introduced some changes in response. These include:
- Making the main navigation links more visible, and renaming one of these from "Programme Finder" to "Programmes" with a more clearly labelled programme A-Z underneath it.
- Changing the way links to programme work so instead of immediately playing a programme when a user clicks on a link we take you through to the episode page for that programme.
- In the case of Radio 4, we have experimented with defaulting the site to both the Highlights and the On Air Now section, and measured the impact of both. The results (and our statistics) suggest that a significant number of users are looking for the Listen Live button, so we have improved the signposting to that end more clearly.
Signpost to 'listen to what's on air now'
- For national stations such as Radio 2, 3 and 4 we have now enabled live listening on iPad, and have also now fixed the problem we had with playing back on-demand programmes on the same device. We are working hard to do the same for the Nations stations such as Radio Scotland, and English local radio stations, although we don't yet have a date when this will be resolved.
We are grateful to all of you who have taken the time to share your thoughts. We continue to incorporate your feedback directly into the product, and look forward to your continued support and involvement on our journey to creating a great online radio experience.
Chris Kimber is Executive Product Manager for the Radio and Music product