Responsive Design on BBC Indonesia mobile site

Executive Product Manager

Hello, I'm Phil Buckley, Executive Product Manager for Future Media News World Service, and I lead the technical and delivery teams there.

I'm very proud that today we have released a new mobile site for BBC Indonesia in Responsive Design.

New look BBC Indonesia mobile site

As far as I can find this is the world's first responsive website in an Asian language and one of the very first non-English responsive sites.

The Head of the News Product Chris Russell has blogged in detail about Responsive Design, a technology which tests your screen size and connection speed and then gives you the best possible experience. This has already been adopted on our English language mobile News site and the new BBC Indonesia site is on the same codebase.

This technology is particularly well suited to the World Service sites. More than half the visitors to BBC Indonesia come on a mobile phone and they come using an explosion of different handsets: last week alone there were more than 1,200 different phones using the site.

These ranged from the newest Apple smartphones to some Nokia feature phones with local manufacturers heavily represented including the magnificently-named Hipstreet HS-7DTB6 and the rather more straight-laced Moral N01.

In the olden days every single one of these would have seen our standard mobile view:

Old mobile view

But now each of those 1,200 phones will display the best thing they can manage.

Basic phones on poor connections will get an experience similar to our old mobile site, for example an image like this:

Image displayed on phone with slower connections

This is about 3 Kilobytes (Kb) and is very fast to download but heavily pixelated around the neck and shoulders of the North Korean soldier.

People on a faster connection with a bigger screen will get this image:

Image on faster phone

This is about 10.5Kb, is much better quality and will scale up to the size of your screen. This allows us to deliver a great experience across this huge range of phones.

Coder James Lee tests his work on a Nokia C3 and other phones

Another real advantage of the new site is its speed. I have watched videos of people testing this in Jakarta and it is lightning fast, often at least as fast as sites hosted locally.

My career, such as it is, has been in technical and product development - I have no journalistic experience nor do I speak Indonesian.

However, one of the things which struck me during this project is what a fantastic site BBC Indonesia is. I have been testing this site several times a day for the last month and it has amazed me how often there is something new and how interesting the stories look. The pictures are clear and high quality and the journalism seems well suited to mobile phones with short paragraphs and regular breaks. So I hope that our new site carries this content better than the old and gives it the presentation, speed and usability it deserves.

Do let me know your feedback - I would especially love to hear from Indonesian speakers - and whatever you do, let 'kalau tidak rusak jangan diperbaiki' be your watchword.

Phil Buckley is the Executive Product Manager for FM News World Service.

N.B. This post was amended at 1515 on 6th December 2012. As Phil explains in his comment below responsive design does not explicitly test for correction speed.


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