BBC iPlayer Radio: your feedback

Friday 14 February 2014, 15:49

Daniel Bean Daniel Bean Senior Product Manager

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I’m the senior product manager for BBC iPlayer Radio.

We’ve been making some changes recently to both BBC iPlayer Radio and BBC iPlayer and I thought it would be useful to summarise these below and talk about how we’re addressing some of the issues you’ve raised.

On the 23rd of January we launched a new homepage for BBC iPlayer Radio, improving on the range of features that were available before and matching the most used elements of BBC iPlayer. We carefully tested this new page with users of both BBC iPlayer and BBC iPlayer Radio before releasing it and found that it was easily understood and liked by both groups. You can find more information about the changes we made in one of my previous blog posts.

On Monday of this week, in line with our strategy announced some time ago, we closed a number of the radio pages in BBC iPlayer and redirected you to equivalent pages in BBC iPlayer Radio such as our new homepage, network homepages (e.g. http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4extra) and category pages (e.g. http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/programmes/genres/drama/player). A lot of these pages were being duplicated in BBC iPlayer.

stations view of homepage.jpg A view of the Radio stations in the BBC iPlayer radio homepage

Since Monday’s change a number of you have got in touch to tell us about various issues. I’ll go through some of the most common ones below and explain what we’re doing about them.

Favourites

I mentioned in my blog post on 10th February, that if you had added radio programmes to your favourites in BBC iPlayer you wouldn’t be able to access that list in BBC iPlayer Radio. We appreciate that this is inconvenient and we looked really carefully at whether there was a way of transferring those favourites across, but unfortunately we couldn’t find a simple way to do it. BBC iPlayer favourites is built on technology which is now fairly old and fragile and the advice of our technical experts was that it would be too difficult to retrieve an accurate list and migrate this from cookie based favourites (BBC iPlayer) to signed-in favourites (BBC iPlayer Radio).

The list of radio programmes you favourited in BBC iPlayer is stored in an old programme information database. A request to retrieve your favourites from this database would not give a complete list, it would only return those programmes which are currently available to listen to. To get the full list we would then have to ask a different database directly, however that database doesn’t differentiate between TV and radio programmes.

Additionally, some users have different favourites on different browsers (on the same PC) and devices as they are stored separately for each browser and device, meaning we wouldn’t know which set of favourites to transfer across – the ones from your phone, tablet or PC.

If you need a reminder of your current BBC iPlayer favourites so you can add them in BBC iPlayer Radio they will be visible for a period on this page.

You can add favourites in BBC iPlayer Radio as long as you’re signed in to the BBC, via BBC iD, and this has significant advantages. Firstly, it will help to make sure this problem with transferring favourites doesn’t happen again. Secondly, it means you can now access your favourites via BBC iPlayer Radio across any device on any browser when you sign in, making it easier for you to keep track of your favourite programmes. We will shortly be releasing a new version of the BBC iPlayer Radio smartphone application  which includes favourites, meaning you can add programmes from a computer and quickly access them from your mobile device.

Some of you have had trouble with adding series to your favourites. It’s worth noting that if you add an individual episode as a favourite then the series that it’s part of will automatically be added to your BBC iPlayer Radio favourites . You can see your favourite series here if you’re logged in with your BBC iD.

Another problem you’ve raised is that the favourites page in BBC iPlayer Radio should have clearer information and be easier to use. We take your feedback on board and are in the process of updating it to better display the series and episodes you’ve added. For more on the changes to favourites please see this FAQ.

Pausing and resuming an episode

A number of you have noticed that the feature in BBC iPlayer which allows you to pause and resume an episode wasn’t working in BBC iPlayer Radio. We’re glad to say that we have now fixed this so you can now pause and resume when you’re listening on episode pages in BBC iPlayer Radio too.

Listening to Radio 1 and 1Xtra using Google’s Chrome browser

In the last week or so it wasn’t possible to listen to BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 1Xtra using the latest version of Chrome (version 32). We’re pleased to say that this issue has now been resolved.

What’s on

Two related issues you’ve raised have been not being able to make a side by side comparison of radio station schedules and not being able to move backwards and forwards in time across schedules. In fact, it is still possible to see what’s currently on air across all the national and nations stations on one page if you click on ‘Stations’ here. You can also see the full schedules for individual stations if you click on one of the station logos on that page and then click on the ‘Schedules’ link near the top of that station’s homepage. At the top of a radio station’s schedule page (for example: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/programmes/schedules/fm) you can click on the dates to move forwards and backwards in time. We’re also planning to investigate the best way to show the schedules for lots of stations side by side on one page. I’ll keep you posted on our progress. Some of you may have seen that we have done something like this in the BBC iPlayer Radio mobile app so we will look at how we can bring that to these pages.

We’re monitoring how people are accessing the schedules and will continue to refine these in response to your feedback and how people are using them.

Categories

Some of you have pointed out that the category pages we link to contain episodes or series that aren’t actually available to listen to. We’re planning to change these links within the next few weeks to link to programmes currently available and ordered by A-Z. In the meantime, there are a few different ways to look at which programmes are in a category. For example, if you want the comedy programmes on Radio 4 Extra that are available now for listening and you want to order them so that the newest episodes are at the top of the list, then this page will do that for you. Down the left hand side of that page are a number of links which you can click on to change the list.

Too many clicks

Finally, some of you have found it harder to get to the items you want. We’re monitoring how people use BBC iPlayer Radio and looking at how to reduce the number of clicks for the most common user journeys. We’ll be working to incorporate those amongst the other improvements we’ll be making to BBC iPlayer Radio over the coming months.

As I hope this blog post shows, we are listening to your feedback and trying to address the issues you’ve raised where that’s possible. Some of these issues can be fixed relatively quickly whereas others may take more time and thought before we come up with the solutions that best suit the full range of ways that you want to use BBC iPlayer Radio. In the meantime comments on my previous blog post have been closed but I’d welcome further feedback here or via the Feedback page.

Daniel Bean is Senior Product Manager, BBC Radio iPlayer, BBC Future Media

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Comments

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  • rate this
    +41

    Comment number 1.

    I am simply amazed that the catalogue of problems you discuss above were not anticipated before this new version of iPlayer was launched. You tell us that 'weeks' and 'months' will be needed to cobble together solutions for this pig's ear of a site - these should have been sorted out before it was launched. Users weren't concerned that there were problems with too many pages, we had a site that worked and worked well which you have taken from us without popular demand or warning. Very very disappointed that you can't see this new version has a design fault at its centre and that tweaking it will not change its fundamental problems.

  • rate this
    +26

    Comment number 2.

    Any clarification on what you meant by 'a lot' of positive feedback and then saying 'generally people don't give positive feedback'?

  • rate this
    +43

    Comment number 3.

    So many unanswered questions still:

    1) Any plans to bring back a list of 'expiring' and 'new' favourites?

    2) Any plans to allow us to view our favourites while listening to a programme so we can work out what to listen to next?

    3) Can the A-Z ignore 'The' and 'A' at the beginning of programme titles?

    4) Can we have a time of expiry? 1 day left is useless, you don't know whether it's an hour left or 24 hours.

    5) How do we search for new series? I have found a new workaround, which involves searching for '1/' in the schedules, but this very time consuming compared to the old way of doing it.

    6) Any plans to change they layout of big pictures and little text back to small pictures and more detailed text? It's like using a site designed for a smartphone on a desktop.

    7) Can we have the black background back? The new whiteness isn't the most suitable for radio listening?

    8) Why does the 'last update' date reflect the first broadcast date rather then the last broadcast date?

    These are some of the main specific points I can think of, but the general navigation is still the main cause for concern, it's just so incoherent, we seem to have gone from an integrated service where it was intuitive to find stuff to a random mess of programmes held together by a very lacklustre front end.

  • rate this
    +34

    Comment number 4.

    Nowhere near to good old i-player I had grown to love. Bring it back.

  • rate this
    +20

    Comment number 5.

    As mentioned by many people in the previous blog, the new site is cluttered and boring to use.
    One of the biggest annoyances for many is the favourites list. Surely it is simple to sort them, say by category or in alphabetical order. And the "last updated". What a useless piece of information to put as the only information on the favourites list, as this has no relation to when it was on the radio.
    And when will the much missed expiring/new list come back?

    As for the useful page, mentioned above, with my favourites list - to use as a reminder - it has one programme on it. Where are the other forty or so?

    Pausing and resuming an episode does appear to work now. One down, so many to go.

 

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