New BBC homepage launches
Following two months in public beta, yesterday we launched a new version of the BBC homepage.
In my last blog post in March I talked about the reasons for launching the new version of the BBC homepage and pointed out that most of the work for this update has been to move the site to a new technical architecture. Back in May 2008 the BBC announced plans to build a new service-oriented architecture to accommodate the increasing number of visitors to BBC websites and to enable new features to be delivered more quickly. The BBC homepage is one of the first sites to be moved to the new infrastructure.
During the homepage beta we introduced a new navigation bar across the top of the page to facilitate easier and faster access to the most popular sites across the BBC. If the site you're looking for isn't listed simply choose from the 'More' drop down menu or type what you're looking for in the Search box.
The new navigation bar is slowly being rolled out across the entire BBC website - it was included in the recent re-launch of the Dr Who website. While these changes are not actually part of the new global visual language (GVL) that was announced in February, they are certainly stepping stones in that direction. As the GVL evolves we'll be looking to incorporate an increasing number of elements on the BBC homepage over time.
To fit the most popular links onto the navigation bar and allow for consistency across all BBC web sites, we kept the overall size down and as a result we removed the clock from the BBC Homepage header. However, during the public beta the feedback from many users was that the clock was sadly missed. So we've built a new and improved clock module which takes its time from the clock on your PC. The new module also shows you the time-zone that your clock is set to, and it can be collapsed to a slim-line clock. The new clock module makes use of upcoming HTML standards, which you can read more about at our BBC Web Developer blog.
The clock module is on the right hand side of the BBC homepage just below the Media Zone. If you prefer, you can remove it from your homepage by clicking the 'x' at the top right corner of the module.
During the homepage beta, we also introduced a new module called Topic Tracker. We learnt a lot from the feedback of users who tried out Topic Tracker during the homepage beta, and we think there are a few improvements we still need to make before we launch Topic Tracker on the main homepage for all users. However, if you are interested in trying it for yourself, Topic Tracker is available in the 'Customise Panel'.
To add the Topic Tracker module to your BBC homepage go to 'Customise this page' panel at the bottom of the homepage, tick the checkbox for Topic Tracker, and hit 'Save'. The module will appear in the top left hand corner of the homepage, and you can move the module on the page by simply grabbing the top of the module and dragging to another location.
We've made lots of other changes and improvements to the homepage, and the new platform will allow us to continue to deliver new features and improvements more quickly and easily. To learn more about the new BBC homepage, check out the Frequently Asked Questions.
Jo Wickremasinghe is Head of Homepage and Syndication Services.