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Editorial Content On The New Homepage

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James Price | 10:37 UK time, Monday, 14 January 2008

Hello, I look after the editorial side of things on the bbc.co.uk homepage.

Thanks to all who have given us feedback on the beta homepage. We've now received over 3,000 responses and among a host of useful suggestions, a couple of things stand out.

Firstly, many people have suggested that the main image is too big and that there isn't enough other content visible on the screen without scrolling down. Some suggested that this "main promo" should be removable, or at least movable.

homepage_editorial.gif

Secondly, there seems to be a common perception that this area is simply an ad for BBC content.

Your feedback is already having a direct effect on how the page will look when it launches. The design is being tweaked to slim it down to get more of the stuff you want - especially news and sport headlines and the weather forecast - higher up the page ("above the fold", to use the jargon) and the main promo area in particular will get quite a bit smaller.

And for those of you who wanted more widgets, we have a dozen new ones in the pipeline, covering topics such as: food, business/money, music and gardening.

I can understand the reaction of those who want to make the main image removable (like the widgets on the page).

But I disagree, for the following reasons:

  • It adds visual interest to the page and acts as an "anchor" for the design. Without this the page would look dull. Just as a magazine needs a strong image on the front cover, so does the BBC.
  • The ability of users to customise the new homepage opens up tremendous possibilities, but the BBC should have at least one place to display what we reckon is important, interesting or entertaining. Our mission isn't simply to air stories and programmes we know you wanted... but also the ones you didn't know you wanted. The promo is our chance to inject a dose of serendipity. And if you don't like the first feature, there are others you can select instead.
  • The content within this section is set to get more exciting. Reflecting what's happening across the internet generally, we don't intend to stick to text and images alone. By this spring, we will have rolled out video and audio clips - and be serving you up picture galleries (similar to this one) and a weekly news quiz.

This brings me to the aversion many of you have to "ads". I've given up trying to stop people calling this section the "promo area", but the intention is that it shouldn't be just about promoting headline BBC programmes. It's a "feature area" - a window onto topical content, suited to the online medium. To misquote Robbie Williams, it's where we say: "Let us (inform, educate and) entertain you."

On the current homepage, we are already producing topical features. These highlight relevant content across the whole BBC website to give greater context or depth to the issues of the day. For example, the mortgage calculator may not be popular most days, but it was highlighted on the homepage to good effect on the morning that interest rates last went up.

mortgage_calculator.gif

When we get video on the homepage, we won't use it simply to run TV trails. We may bring you short segments from upcoming TV shows... but we hope that these will appeal as individual pieces in and of themselves, much like the best clips on YouTube.

Sound bites have got a bad name for themselves, but I've lost count of the number of amazing moments I've encountered on BBC radio and TV that could be extracted and used to good effect on the web. It's no longer just about saying there's a programme "on at 7pm on BBC One". It's about extracting that moment - and serving it up right there on the homepage.

Our editorial mission in the coming months is to persuade people to see this area as something like a magazine section... and to start enjoying the new range of content which we feature daily.

James Price is the editor of the BBC homepage.

Comments

  1. At 05:12 PM on 14 Jan 2008, Andrew Livingston wrote:

    First, thanks so much for fixing the preferences not saving on Safari for iPhone.

    Now, is there any chance of some way of being able to move the sections around? Given the iPhone browser has no mouse, it's impossible to shift them into different positions. This means, for example, that Entertainment appears on top of News by default, with no way to change it. As does iPlayer. And the first column ends up nearly twice as long as the third one, meaning unneccessary scrolling.

    Would it be possible at least to have slightly more intelligent defaults? Maybe with News defaulting to the top of column 1, and the other columns shifting round to the best fit by default?

    Ta muchly.

  2. At 05:30 PM on 14 Jan 2008, David M wrote:

    So, what, I have to give up a very large proportion of my screen real estate because you think you know better than me what I want?

    With the website greatly improved and looking good, why not let users decide for themselves? Make it the first thing people see, sure. But make the box removable or allow users to minimise it. As you've already mentioned, there are many more elements to come 'on stream'. That being the case, why not just see what the existing users of the beta site?

    Maybe allow the box to be removed/hidden for a period of 2 to 3 weeks and see what people think? The site has the potential to be very useful, informative and accessible; if any more features are added to the page as it stand then it will either get too cluttered or become cumbersome to use. Something probably has to give, why not listen to the response from the users and see where it goes.

    Regardless of what comes out of this, I am left a little puzzled by the approach to the ad box; the BBC isn't a commercial organisation and doesn't/shouldn't ostensibly have a 'front' to push - the site should be the perfect candidate for a fully customisable site that sets the standard. Perhaps I'm losing a sense of perspective on this, but as a frequent user of the new site - much more so than the old - I would like to see it fulfil its potential.

  3. At 06:45 PM on 14 Jan 2008, Allan wrote:

    Really like the new page, would it be possible to give the individual scottish regions news on the "local news" feed as it does on the news page?

  4. At 07:14 PM on 14 Jan 2008, Scott Newton wrote:

    Nice to see you're going to be adressing the size of the feature. I think its got every right to be there, its just a little large at the moment.

    I thought the box was used well when it switched to carry the breaking news of Bhutto's assasination, regardless of whether a person had selected the 'news' box or not. I think this facility is a big reason why the features box should stay.

  5. At 09:45 PM on 14 Jan 2008, LES FERGUSON wrote:

    Personally I'm really quite impressed by the new Home Page.
    I agree that the main image is a bit on the large side and could do with slimming down a little, but I also agree that you need some kind of "hook" on which to hang the Beeb's collective hat.
    All in all; a nice start.

  6. At 10:00 PM on 14 Jan 2008, Xbehave wrote:

    have i missed my chance for feedback, sorry i was still getting used to it.

    One thing to consider is uneven collums, im not 100% sure on this but its worth considering. most web sites use a couple of side collum for links while displaying content in the central section. Facebook has a nice mechanism where the same block in the big area is a more informative but in the side it is more concise (love or hate facebook it has seen alot of success). So like i said im not 100% sure but it is effective and people are used to it, however it is normally used with content so it may not be appropriate.

    More content? I have to admit that i never really went to the old homepage and thinking about it this is why, there's no point as you always have to go somewhere else to see anything useful. It might be worth adding abit more content to the home page ( at least on clicking the title), perhaps not whole blogs but abstracts or opening paragraphs? Again might not work for everyone but this time i am sure id like it!

    One thing Im starting to get worried about (no offense but your background doesn't inspire me here) is that most changes are to do with image, while the background isn't being changed much. A common log in for most bbc services would be nice.

    p.s being able to reorder the lists is nice but the feature isnt documented so i nearly missed it.

  7. At 07:00 AM on 16 Jan 2008, Malcolm Chester wrote:

    Many thank for the new homepage. I think it is a vast improvement on the other one and I like the ability to customise it. I agree with those who complain about the size of the 'promo' area although personally would not wish it to be removed. Maybe it could be able to be customised in terms of size and position.

    One real bugbear for me is the lack of access to the BBC Web search. It seems you can search the BBC but not the web from this new homepage. Any chance that a web search feature will be included?

  8. At 11:05 AM on 16 Jan 2008, Josh Smith wrote:

    +1 for web search; I'm increasingly unwilling to fork out personal information to behemoths like Google...

  9. At 01:14 PM on 16 Jan 2008, Andrew Livingston wrote:

    Oh, one more thing - could we have some pretty icons for saving the bookmarks to the iPhone please? They just need dumping in the directory of the home page...

  10. At 01:20 PM on 18 Jan 2008, Xbehave wrote:

    For those wanting bbc search:

    unfortunately its only supported by mozilla products (firefox, etc), atm but it could work with ie7. Alternatively now would be a good time to upgrade your browser, to something that displays websites how their meant to be.
    alternatively firefox can be modified to search bbc for any web address it cant find.

    If you still use IE6 you will probably find that searching from the browser instead of from a site will take a bit to get used to but will get you where your going faster. For those of us not interested in privacy simply typing the name of a website will take you to the site 90% of the time in firefox3

  11. At 10:44 PM on 19 Jan 2008, Betty Evans wrote:

    Reluctant to hear News set to be a
    main feature on page, if this is to be the case could we have a break from tradition and have some "Good
    Newa" features, please!
    Like being able to arrange the layout
    of "my" and your homepage.

  12. At 04:15 PM on 21 Jan 2008, John Alford wrote:

    NEW FRONT PAGE. Please realise that the BBC providing a Web Search engine is one of the main reasons for always going via your Front Page when going on the web. BBC news and other information is also looked at many times per day. If you take away web access this would be very bad news, as BBC Search Engine gives excellent and safe results from a search. Please be sure to include it in your New Front Page.

  13. At 04:52 PM on 30 Jan 2008, Andy Tedd wrote:

    Hi James,

    Reading between the lines - if the bosses dont want the main promo box moveable/closable but the users do, the simple answer is to make the box moveable/closeable but don't tell the bosses. They will never notice it, users will do what they want with it, and this way everyone is happy.

    Gateway (BBC Intranet for non-beeboids) was like that for 3 or 4 years and they (the bosses) didn't notice.

    Going through a user consultation exercise, then telling the users you don't agree with their feedback is not a great position for the beeb to take.

    Cheers
    A

  14. At 01:52 PM on 03 Feb 2008, Mike Adamson wrote:

    Hi, Can you please stop the homepage and all main category pages below it from jumping upwards after the page has stopped loading - there is a 2" gap at the top when the page loads, which disappears and makes the page jump when it finishes loading..

    IE7 and Firefox 2

  15. At 04:05 PM on 27 Feb 2008, Martin Barnsdall wrote:

    I think I like the new front page - it's going to take a bit of getting used to!

    However, please can we 'search the web' from the front page? Why?, I work in a school where we filter the internet content to block the main search engines such as Google, Yahoo - mainly because their search results are too varied.

    The Beeb front page was used as our search engine - please can we have the little button back?

  16. At 04:45 PM on 27 Feb 2008, Will wrote:

    Agree that the 'promo box' is far too big and inconveniently located. At least 95% of the time I spend on the site is for news and sport, and with my resolution I can now only see one of these two boxes without scrolling - not a big deal in the grand scheme of things but worse than before.

    I agree that occasionally it is interesting to look at a story or feature that I otherwise wouldn't go looking for, but you already have these on the News Frontpage. Are you really saying that these interesting asides deserve to be by far the most prominent feature of the homepage?

    The reason that people see it as an 'advert box' is because we are so used to the BBC using this tactic (anyone who has watched BBC Breakfast during Celebrity Come Dancing season or similar will know what I'm talking about). Despite the extraordinary amount of time and license-payers money that the BBC spends on formulating multi-platform user-centric multimedia solutions etc etc you still fail to bite the bullet and actually let the people who pay for all this make up their own mind about what they want.

    I'm obviously not going to lose any sleep over this but I am always amazed by the "we know best" attitude of apparently every editor in the organisation. Just as a matter of interest, please could you point me to an example of an editor's blog where they have been asked to explain a particular course of action and subsequently held their hands up and admitted that they made a mistake or might have to have a rethink? Or give me a guarantee that this space on the homepage will never be used to 'promo' Celebrity Come Dancing?

  17. At 06:56 PM on 27 Feb 2008, Andrew White wrote: I say remove the feature box in the middle. On small screens it stops us seeing the things we want straight away. Please see to it that there is a method for deleting it.
  18. At 07:25 PM on 27 Feb 2008, Trevor wrote:

    I have just experienced the new BBC website homepage for the first time. I must admit I am incredibly disappointed. It has been my home page - greeting me every time I go online - for the last few years. I have decided to change my default homepage. Two reasons:
    1) That feature box! Get rid of it. I don’t want to be told about things you think I may be interested in. The whole point of a personable homepage is that you can personalise it.
    2) You should use some sort of localised properties file – periodically I purge my cookies, etc, for performance and virus reasons. This is good practice, but it means I’d have to constantly reset my homepage preferences, which means I may as well not bother and therefore I’m forced to view a default homepage of no interest to me.

    I will set news, business and sport as separate URLs in my favourites.

  19. At 08:23 PM on 27 Feb 2008, Trevor wrote:

    I have just experienced the new BBC website homepage for the first time. I must admit I am incredibly disappointed. It has been my home page - greeting me every time I go online - for the last few years. I have decided to change my default homepage. Two reasons:
    1) That feature box! Get rid of it. I don’t want to be told about things you think I may be interested in. The whole point of a personable homepage is that you can personalise it.
    2) You should use some sort of localised properties file – periodically I purge my cookies, etc, for performance and virus reasons. This is good practice, but it means I’d have to constantly reset my homepage preferences, which means I may as well not bother and therefore I’m forced to view a default homepage of no interest to me.

    I will set news, business and sport as separate URLs in my favourites.

  20. At 10:45 PM on 27 Feb 2008, T wrote:

    Has the promo area been reduced in size since the beta?

    It looks the same size and I hate how big it is.

    The homepage FAQ states: "The new homepage has been carefully designed so that although it is full size on screens of 1024 x 768 pixels, key content can be immediately visible on smaller screens without scrolling."

    This isn't true. My resolution is 1280x800 and I still have to scroll to see the headlines I'm interested in; News and Sport (only 2 topics and I still have to scroll (yes I'm lazy!))

    I understand that the BBC wants the promo area to be seen, but can it not be moveable at least? It'd be pretty sweet if the header was moveable too... !

    Yes, the new design is very stylish but we prefer content over style!

  21. At 08:16 AM on 28 Feb 2008, Liss wrote:

    Like Trevor, I'll be bypassing the homepage and going straight to the news. The size and position of the feature box makes it really difficult to read anything else on the homepage.

  22. At 08:38 AM on 28 Feb 2008, simon knight wrote:

    I couldn't agree more about the inconvenience of the 'Feature box'. Its presence will make me stop using the site. By all means have it as an option, but its compulsory nature is both insulting and makes for a poor user interface. I can no longer have both sport and news directly in front of me, where I want them and as such have to scroll around in order to select a theme when I could previously access these instantly. I think that you have seriously misjudged this.

  23. At 12:41 PM on 28 Feb 2008, Paul Webster wrote:

    1024 x 768 is too much screen real estate for me to give over to a single website. Basically you would force me to maximise my browser every time I go to your site - this would become tedious very quickly. Of course the reason for so much screen space being used up is your web designers probably have nice large wide screen LCD monitors on their desks and therefore become greedy in their target system expectations. Out here in the real world we are not always so lucky; my laptop is only 1024 x 768 and I suspect a lot of other users of the BBC website have much the same.

    The problem is the main feature position is wrong. If you insist on having this, which is fine by me, then either make it moveable or place it flush left. Maybe have a two column option that places it flush left with the other features in two columns below the main feature. That would work.

  24. At 01:17 PM on 28 Feb 2008, Phil Sutton wrote:

    The promotional section IS way too big and if you really wanted to give users freedom and flexibility, then this should extend to the freedom NOT to want 'added interest' on the page OR to desire an 'anchor' at all. If it could be moved around, the BBC would still be able to promote its stuff, but at least it wouldn't be in my face all the time, taking up an area in which I would rather see changing national and local news and sport.

    It's the online equivalent of the relentless plugging of TV programmes on the BBC which is (almost) as bad as ITV these days.

    Shame.

    Phil.

  25. At 03:44 PM on 28 Feb 2008, Nick wrote:

    Well done to the suggestion of changing the bookmark directly to the BBC Sport/News sites. The new homepage is just ridiculous - its meant to be personalised, yet its more intrusive and ugly then ever - and theres nothing you can do about it!

    Have changed my bookmark now to go directly to the BBC Sport section, which is a lot better, but still annoying in the fact that you can't see the days top news and sports headlines in the same place, as you used to be able to.


    In fact, a better way to do this, is to change your settings to "International Version" - its almost perfect!

  26. At 04:07 PM on 28 Feb 2008, Gareth Wilson wrote:

    Gents I understand what your trying to here but please give an option to view the old 'uncustomisable' hoempage. I really dont care about customising my experience, the original homepage was extremely well designed and used screen real estate really well.

    This version is cluttered with options and why are the borders so big on each window?

  27. At 04:16 PM on 28 Feb 2008, Gareth Wilson wrote:

    Gents I understand what your trying to here but please give an option to view the old 'uncustomisable' hoempage. I really dont care about customising my experience, the original homepage was extremely well designed and used screen real estate really well.

    This version is cluttered with options and why are the borders so big on each window?

  28. At 09:58 PM on 28 Feb 2008, Peter Smith wrote:

    The new home page is a disaster. Ugly and full of stuff that I don't want. If I customise it I'll lose the customisation each time I clean up my files, not that the customisation options are up to much. The old page did its job well, easy to use and direct access to the diversity that made the BBC site so good. Direct links to the pages I use most is now my preferred option. Less style, more content please.

  29. At 11:41 AM on 29 Feb 2008, Russ Williams wrote:

    The new homepage is looking great and has even improved since the 1st beta page.

    I look forward to the design being applied site wide.

    I agree that the bbc 'promo' area is a little too big and could maybe have 10-15% shaved off the depth to provide some more above the fold space.

    I disagree with people complaining that it looks ugly and is too big in general.
    News flash people!!! Get a monitor with higher resolution or discover the higher resolution setting in your display preferences!
    The days of 800x600 monitors are long gone! And 1024 x 768 is also looking tired.

    My main suggestions at the moment would be three simple points:

    1) The grey settings bar should have a 'minimise' or off option. Once we've set our preferences we know it exists and may not need it again for some time. This will provide some extra above the fold space.

    2) News is always breaking and i dont personally like to refresh my bbc homepage which i have on most of the day.
    Why not include 'as an option' the ability for auto refreshing content every 5 minutes. A simple addition to the code this one and a handy feature that could be saved in the cookie prefs.

    3) An 'edit' option on Radio panel to reduce or select the stations you want to show. Just its quite a long panel at the moment.

  30. At 12:52 PM on 29 Feb 2008, Russ Williams wrote:

    The new homepage is looking great and has even improved since the 1st beta page.

    I look forward to the design being applied site wide.

    I agree that the bbc 'promo' area is a little too big and could maybe have 10-15% shaved off the depth to provide some more above the fold space.

    I disagree with people complaining that it looks ugly and is too big in general.
    News flash people!!! Get a monitor with higher resolution or discover the higher resolution setting in your display preferences!
    The days of 800x600 monitors are long gone! And 1024 x 768 is also looking tired.

    Also if you use the latest Firefox browser (3 beta) - the whole page can decreased in size which will address your size issues on smaller displays.
    Looks good as well!

    My main suggestions at the moment would be 4 simple points:

    1) The grey settings bar should have a 'minimise' or off option. Once we've set our preferences we know it exists and may not need it again for some time. This will provide some extra above the fold space.

    2) News is always breaking and i dont personally like to refresh my bbc homepage which i have on most of the day.
    Why not include 'as an option' the ability for auto refreshing content every 5 minutes. A simple addition to the code this one and a handy feature that could be saved in the cookie prefs.

    3) An 'edit' option on Radio panel to reduce or select the stations you want to show. Just its quite a long panel at the moment.

    4) The main title bars could be slimmed by 10 pixels easily without looking too skinny. More space above the line generated again.

  31. At 02:57 PM on 29 Feb 2008, Russ Williams wrote:

    Following on from my previous comment:

    The main title bars could be slimmed by 10 pixels easily without looking too skinny. More space above the line generated again.

    Also if you use the latest Firefox browser (3 beta) - the whole page can decreased in size which will address your size issues on smaller displays.
    Looks really good as well!

  32. At 09:33 AM on 01 Mar 2008, A Squire wrote:

    Good morning.
    I was not surprised to read your disagreement with the people who want the promo panel removable, or at least movable. You have put your opinion before that of your customers.
    Unfortunatley this is an attitude too common within the BBC (especially with respect to programme background music). I realise that it is not an "advertisment" in the commercial sense. Nevertheless, it is still intrusive, especially where it is, and not everyone appreciates these fixed banners. They take up screen space that we could use for things that we really do want to see.

    The BBC Web Site is NOT just an internet magazine. It is the portal to the World of the BBC, which contains much serious stuff as well as the "wizzy" magazine type material.
    Therefore, those of us who do not want to have the latest "item of interest" (of interest to you?) should have the option of deleting it, even if it comes back again next time we log on.
    For example, this morning (01/03/08) none of the alternatve tabs are remotely interesting to me and I have to have the CBBCs blandies staring at me.

    This is technically feasible and only requires some humility and customer-focus on the part of the managment. We, your users, would really appreciate it.
    Many thanks.

  33. At 10:00 AM on 01 Mar 2008, Roger Miller wrote:

    The large and fixed promo block is a bit like being bombarded with adverts for other programmes before you get to the one you turned on to watch or listen to. Oh I forgot, you do that as well.

    If you are going to allow people choice in what they can see on the page I don't see why you should nail something in the most useful space on the screen. Unless you always know best what is good for us of course. If the promo block is as essential as you say it is why not test this by letting people decide where they want to put it? What would it take to get you to change your mind on this?

  34. At 06:06 PM on 01 Mar 2008, Steve Rozario wrote:

    Listen to your customers James! I, like many others, don't like the promo area taking up so much space and would prefer it smaller or to be able to relocate it. As for your reasons for retaining it:

    - if I want a dull front page that's my choice. You might find it dull, I would actually find it more useful.

    - you can still meet your second objective and allow it to be resizable / moveable.

    - if you do manage to make the content more exciting, I might then move it back to a mor eprominent location.

    At the moment you're displaying a 1950's 'Auntie' attitude. Please give us more credit for being independent thinkers.

    Hope you appreciate these comments and listen!

  35. At 04:27 AM on 02 Mar 2008, Jon K wrote:

    Love the new homepage... however...

    I came here to comment on the main feature box, and it seems that it annoys a few other people too, and that perhaps you are aware that it is a little too intrusive.

    I like the box and its ability to highlight particular programmes or features, but I feel it makes the rest of the page unusable for me because everything gets pushed so far below the fold, as you say.

    Things I want above the fold:

    News
    TV
    Radio
    iPlayer

    ...at the moment, this isn't possible, thanks to the promo area!

    A great compromise, for me, would be the option to slim the promo bar down, either by collapsing it upwards or reducing it to one column, once it has been viewed. That way the BBC gets its promotion across, and I don't get annoyed ;)

    I would consider making the main BBC page my homepage if the promo box were not so intrusive, but as it is I shall be sticking with BBC News.

  36. At 07:49 AM on 02 Mar 2008, Douglas Clegg wrote:

    I note all the editorial excuses around the BBC adverts which dominate the page. The bottom line for me is this: bbc.co.uk has been my home page for as long as I have had the Internet. If you don't reduce the size of the BBC advert I will simply change to one of the many other excellent home pages, eg the Guardian

  37. At 03:09 PM on 02 Mar 2008, Not Pleased wrote:

    This new scheme is really flawed.

    What's the point of customization if it disappears when we clear our cookies?

    Therefore, what really is the point of the new homepage?

    Maybe it might be solved if the website allowed users to sign up and save their preferences within the BBC.

    The usability of the frontpage is rubbish as well. The colours are too overpowering and take attention away from content. The content is scattered everywhere and no one likes to scroll the page.

    And aside from the frontpage, the rest of the site is still in the old format. That just looks weird and mismatched.

    By the way, more and more people are purchasing laptops and smaller devices - so screen sizes will be getting smaller, not bigger.

    This really is a step backwards.

    Shame on you.

  38. At 06:07 PM on 02 Mar 2008, Rich Coleman wrote:

    Please enable the MAIN FEATURE to be movable. I do not look at it and it just clogs up your web page. The whole point of having a customisable page it just that - Customise - but one cannot. It takes up most of the screen and any windows you select to be displayed like news, weather can only fit on a bit at the bottom or the sire. This is just an add for the BBC which is a shame as the BBC is supposed to be impartial and non profit making and taylored to the publics interests.

  39. At 08:49 AM on 03 Mar 2008, Mark wrote:

    Until the "main feature" option is removable I will not use this page. For sometime now the old pace was my "first stop" on any internet visit but I can't be bothered with a supposedly customisable site that insists on dictating what should take up 20% of my screen space

    Did we learn nothing from all the failed portals of 5 years ago?

  40. At 09:59 AM on 03 Mar 2008, Martin Wace wrote:

    The new 'homepage' design (?) is poor and clumsy. Visually it's very similar to the first attempts of any beginner of web site building. It is unsubtle, too much 'in your face', and as for navigation... don't get me started! The "main feature" is obtrusive. If James Price thinks the design is good perhaps he should find a new job?

    The page is said to be 'customisable' - well... what's the point of this option? Every time you clear out 'junk files' from your computer you are faced with the uncustomised page and have to start all over again. Does the 'team' responsible for the 'design' not understand about good computer management? It would appear not.

    I am not a fan of football, so when I remove the football option from the sport panel and why do I still get football as the main part of the panel? Perhaps Mr Price doesn't understand that not all blokes like football (my passion is motor sport!)

    To sum up the new 'design' (and I use the term loosely!): it is amateurish, shoddy, change for the sake of change, too big, hardly customisable, and pointless.

  41. At 11:18 AM on 03 Mar 2008, Martin Wace wrote:

    Further to my previous comments - why does the 'Explore the BBC' panel at teh bottom of the 'homepage' reopen evertime I return to the homepage. The darn page is supposed to be 'customisable' (yeah right!) - and part of my 'customisation' (or my preference) is to keep that panel closed / minimised until I want to open it again. The 'homepage' is bad enough without having to mess about with it every time I go to it.

    Looking at the feedback you have a lot of work to do on this new 'design'. Or better still, just abandon it and return the far far preferable old style homepage.

  42. At 01:14 PM on 03 Mar 2008, debby wrote:

    i like the new homepage, but would like the option of being able to request web or bbc on the search bar as it was before. it is a bit long winded now. i know it has been updated to keep up with the times? but would still like some of the previous options. well done though..

  43. At 01:54 PM on 03 Mar 2008, A S Owen wrote:

    The fact that any customization disappears when we clear our cookies makes this whole thing futile.

  44. At 04:04 PM on 03 Mar 2008, Martin Wace wrote:

    What IS the point of the new joke of a 'homepage'? It's too big, to brash, too 'in your face', very amateurish and messy. We are told we can 'customise it'. NO we can't customise it! If we COULD customise it, then the options we select (to make the best of a very poor job) would remain as our options. But as soon as you clear your various caches (i.e. cookies) we are taken back to the abomination that the BBC has forced upon us. So you spend time re-customising.. but what's the point? The joke of a 'homepage' has been thrown together with no thought for the end-user. We read of 'consultation' and 'we take note of feedback'. Yeah, just about as much as the BBC takes note of feedback from the licence payers on any other matter.

    Give us back the old homepage - it was fine AND it had decent navigation.

    Martin Wace

  45. At 10:12 PM on 03 Mar 2008, Paul wrote:

    Please bring back the old home page. I can't imagine many people are bothered about customising it. Even if I was, I don't want to see options for customisation everytime I visit. Also, the Web Search button has gone. Also, it seems too big and spread out - not as nice and compact as it was. We'll all be looking for a new homepage in our family if it stays like this.

  46. At 12:15 PM on 04 Mar 2008, Matt wrote:

    I like the way the new homepage looks in internet explorer. I'm a Firefox user though and it looks rubbish. In ie7 I can see all the news headline I want to, all the sports headlines I want to and the weather. In Firefox I have to make a choice as I can only see one of these fully before I have to start scrolling.

  47. At 01:04 PM on 04 Mar 2008, CJ wrote:


    The main image is too big. Way too big. All that hard work gone in to making a ground breaking website only for it to be spoiled by James' refusal to listen to user feedback. Shame.

  48. At 08:52 PM on 04 Mar 2008, Martin Wace wrote:

    Despite all the comments against the joke that is the 'new homepage' we have heard nothing from Mr Arrogant Prig.... sorry (I must stop saying that!) Richard Titus... nor from James Price, regarding the new homepage. What can be so very difficult to comprehend by those people? The users... the licence payers... the people that pay their salaries... seem to be getting ignored. We see no improvements in the abomination (the homepage) that we are confronted with. It seems that Mr Titus, Mr Price, and those of the supposed 'web design team' (forgive me while I stop to laugh!)... [oh and how can I forget Bronwyn (?)], choose to not answer the comments put forward by us, the BBC website users.

    How plainly can we put it? THE HOMEPAGE IS AWFUL. THE HOMEPAGE DOES THE BBC NO GOOD AT ALL. YOU HAVE FOUD A NEW BIT OF WEB TECHNOLOGY BUT YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO APPLY IT.

    I ask again that the old homepage gets reinstated. Further I suggest that if Messrs Titus and Price, as well as as Ms Bronwyn van der Merwe do not resign from their highly questionable posts then they be dismissed on the grounds of wasting licence payers hard earned money.

    Martin Wace

  49. At 09:16 PM on 04 Mar 2008, TD wrote:

    What's all the fuss about ? - it's a new front page not a new site!! lol. All that fir this? The rest of the is the same. The front page has (like most things bbc) been dumbed down! As everyone else has said, that picture panel is way way too big (and not required anyway) and the overall content has been reduced. I would like to get at the news and sport headings from the first page.

    It looks nice enough but is a real example of style over substance.

    And James, why pretend to listen to people and then state that you disagree (ie with everyone who has posted).

  50. At 12:34 AM on 05 Mar 2008, Chris wrote:

    I agree with most of the posts (particularly the constuctive feedback ones aka negative!). It is clumsy though I do like the ability to move around what I want - except the dreaded promo area and James I dont care what you reasons are as to why you disagree with the majority! I would take a stab that the typical BBC user is unlikely to be wowed by the addition of video etc in the future - if nothing else at least allow us to reduce its size. All we crave for is simple navigation and clear and easy on the eye format - in fact if the 'promo area' (as that everyone will know it as like it or not) doesn't get an upgrade I could be off to Sky soon!

    PS must talk to Ashley about it!

  51. At 01:31 PM on 05 Mar 2008, Pete Hyett wrote:

    What web development was used to create to new site

  52. At 04:43 PM on 06 Mar 2008, SteveP wrote:

    Chris,

    Could you please provide me with a point of reference for your suggestion "I dont care what you reasons are as to why you disagree with the majority"

    I am a typical BBC user and I don't have a problem, nor do most the people I speak to who use the site.

  53. At 05:06 PM on 06 Mar 2008, Dowsabel wrote:

    I loathe the feature box. I don't own a television and I am not interested in that aspect of the BBC's output. I realise this makes me unusual and, as I don't pay the licence fee, unimportant but here's my two penn'orth anyway. Offering me a "customisable" home page that I can't customise to remove promotions for television programs is just annoying. I don't want more exciting content in the feature box, I want to be able to switch it off, or at least shunt it to the bottom of the page.

    The BBC's homepage has been my homepage at work and at home for some years. I'm now looking for an alternative.

  54. At 08:20 AM on 07 Mar 2008, Tom H wrote:

    I like the idea of customisation but hate the promo area which takes up about one third of my laptop screen and forces me to scroll down to see things I actually want to see. It does not help that there is so much other blank space at the top. Customisation is a real opportunity to create something which is really valuable, but its implementation is crass. After many years the BBC homepage is no longer mine!

  55. At 12:54 PM on 08 Mar 2008, setcho wrote:

    Are you actually reading or taking any notice of these comments?

    Make the 'feature box' smaller or movable you fools!

    I will not be using the BBC website as my homepage until this happens.

  56. At 05:36 PM on 08 Mar 2008, John Gruffydd wrote:

    Although I've set my homepage location for North East Wales, the TV schedules shown lower down shows the region as North West - useless to me. If I set my location temporarily to Cardiff, it correctly sets the region as Wales. Wales is not just Cardiff and the Valleys, or is the the BBC's (English) view of Wales?

  57. At 07:36 AM on 09 Mar 2008, Andy wrote:

    How can you ignore what the customers want? I can't see the sport without scrolling and I can't see the huge wealth of content the BBC offers unless I scroll to the bottom of the page. All the web site usage guidance I have read says that customers refuse to scroll and tend to click less on items not immediately visible. So now you are educating and informing less.

    What is the process for deciding page design - is it a committee of senior management types or based on customer clicks focus groups and feedback?

  58. At 07:24 PM on 09 Mar 2008, Chris Keeble wrote:

    Your arguments are... oh come on now.

    You can disagree with what people are telling you as much as you like, but there really is a clear message coming through here. And we, the licence payers, are wondering why you're not listening to us.

    To be clear, I think the new homepage is on the verge of being really great - you have all done a great job. Even the promo panel is great... if you want it there that is. (Did I mention that I don't?)

    However, for me at least (and it would appear many many others) I will only be encouraged to use the new BBC homepage regularly if I can use it in the way I want to. And, quite simply, I want to remove (or at least collapse) the 'promo area'.

    Rather than discourage people from using it by saying 'no, you can't remove the promo panel', surely the best answer is to give us the option?

    You said:

    It adds visual interest to the page and acts as an "anchor" for the design.

    ... er? The widgets all work well in any practical arrangement and they look pretty good. They don't need the promo panel to make the page work. Yes, it looks good, but I don't want it.

    You say:

    Without this the page would look dull. Just as a magazine needs a strong image on the front cover, so does the BBC.

    ... Ahhhhhh! So it really IS entirely promotional then. Magazines need a strong image on the front cover to attract attention away from competitors' magazines and encourage a purchase. The web is a different medium - please recognise this, or you will lose people, not attract them.

    You say:

    ..the BBC should have at least one place to display what we reckon is important, interesting or entertaining.

    ... Look, this is MY BBC homepage - that is why you are allowing us to customise it, isn't it? I can make up my own flipping mind as to what is important, interesting or entertaining. And if you gave me the option, I might actually use the BBC Homepage and occasionally have a glance at the promo bits! If it doesn't work the way we want it to, we'll end up going somewhere else and using whatever does work the way we want to (e.g. iGoogle, which can get much of the same content from the BBC, albeit nowhere near as nicely presented.... yet).

    There are so many of us who want to be able to remove the promo area, please stop treating us like children (even if we might rant like children on occasion!) and please, please, please let us remove or collapse the 'promo area'.

    Thanks in anticipation...


    (er...)

    (hello...?)

    (is anybody there...?)

  59. At 07:45 AM on 10 Mar 2008, Stephen Guy wrote:

    Any Firefox users who want to get rid of the annoying feature box, can do so.

    Install the Greasemonkey add-on (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/748), and then install a script (http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/23703)

    The only problem is that it has to load before being removed, but it is still a significant improvement.

    Hope this helps :)

  60. At 06:09 PM on 11 Mar 2008, David wrote:

    Why have you opted for a much smaller immovable object/'feature box' for the INTERNATIONAL VERSION?

    The international version uses screen space more efficiently than the UK version. It can be customised so that I can see the most important things (i.e. News & Sport) without having to scroll down.

    Why not take a leaf out of the international version's book and use the ‘Top News Story’ box as the place for the feature box in the UK version. It will still add 'visual interest' and act as the 'anchor' that you desire, but it will also allow a lot more people to see what they want on the homepage.

    I have switched to the international version. Thanks to Nick (see above) for pointing this out.

  61. At 01:47 PM on 12 Mar 2008, Dowsabel wrote:

    I'd like to thank Chris Keeble for mentioning iGoogle. I've now made it my home page and, instead of grinding my teeth every time I log in and the feature box smacks me right between the eyes with stuff I am not interested in, I have a restful beach scene and useful and relevant content.

    James's article is a textbook example of how not to talk to your customers. One day, they will hold seminars based on it.

  62. At 03:38 AM on 16 Mar 2008, Miranda Fox wrote:

    Your argument that the top of the new homepage is not an "ad" or "promo" area, but an attempt to guide your poor directionless users to new and interesting content is at best pathetic and at worst totally lacking in integrity. I do not need to be directed to heavily sponsored sports ads (how much do you get paid for that?) or several advertisments for Rolex watches (how much do you get paid for that?)

    I have always used the BBC Homepage as my homepage, and have set it up for many family members and friends. No more. The "customising" promise is simply a lie unless you allow people to customise your horrible promo stuff out.

    I do hope that Mr James Price, Homepage Editor, pops an honesty pill in his tea and adresses this problem before thousands more users are turned off.

    MF

  63. At 06:00 PM on 16 Mar 2008, MR HARCOURT wrote:

    The new homepage is good except two major floors.

    (1) The BBC isn't a commercial organisation and I don't want to look at big Rolex adverts everytime I return the page (or any other adverts for that matter)

    (2) Your thinking is floored if you think that people shouldn't be given the chance to remove the featured news item.

    It doesn'r matter what screen or resolution you have, for example on a portable computer, the adverts and the annoying news feature (which I am not interested in) dominates my view of the screen and I must always scroll down.

    Your explanantion and reasoning on your FAQs about the the fixed news item is weak and silly. Give us the choice.

    Adverts YES OR NR
    Featured item YES OR NO

    Else lets go back to the old homepage!!!!

    My only other option is to by pass you homepage and go to the next page I use most frequently.

    :-(


  64. At 08:04 PM on 16 Mar 2008, GR wrote:

    The BBC seem to be ignoring what the licence payers actually want (as usual). The overwhelming feedback regarding the homepage is to allow the BBC advert section to be moved from its prominent position, or removed totally by the user.
    As the BBC seem unable to react to such feedback, I strongly recommend using iGoogle instead. After reading one of the earlier postings, I tried iGoogle and it does exactly what you want. I've now set it up as my homepage, with links to BBC news, sport and local weather. It even saves your settings so that if you login after clearing cookies etc, all your previous settings are restored.

  65. At 12:09 PM on 17 Mar 2008, Matthew Baker wrote:

    Great site, loving the new layout. Once the 'main promo' has been reduced and more widgets introduced it will be fantastic!

    One little cribble though, when reducing the Explore the BBC frame at the bottom of the page would it be possible for the site to remember this? As it looks rather tatty and can be accessed easily when needed.

  66. At 01:55 PM on 26 Mar 2008, Ava wrote:

    I don't want any adverts or promotions for future BBC programmes on the BBC home page. Already radio and TV broadcasts are littered with them.

    I also don't see why the 'main feature' at the top of the BBC personalised website can't be personalised. If you have to have such a picture at the top, surely it would be easy to make it for possible for people who like, say, plays, or comedy, or wildlife, to choose to have pictures which suit their interests?

    I also don't understand why, if, by clicking, I ask for sport info on my personalised webpage to be confined to football, I still get a picture of a cricketer (lord knows who) on my screen? (And no mention of women's football at all.)


    Why not have a listeners' panel to adjudicate on such design capability matters - why just one person?

  67. At 08:44 AM on 11 Apr 2008, Iain L wrote:

    I bet this message doesn't ever appear...

    James Price, I find your arrogance towards the users of the bbc.co.uk homepage unbelievable.

    I do not want the feature box - I am an intelligent adult, I know what I want to display. If I want to make my page look "dull" as you call it, that is my choice. I would at least then use the page, rather than just occasionally having a quick glance to see what has been changed.

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