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BBC News website redesign: telling the story

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Paul Sissons | 12:00 UK time, Thursday, 15 July 2010

As you have no doubt noticed, the BBC News website has had a redesign earlier on this week. My colleague Steve Herrmann has posted about this from an editorial perspective; as creative director of the project, I'm going to explain how and why some of the design decisions were made. (See also this picture gallery explaining the new site).

When the News website was launched in 1997, it was only 600 pixels wide.

1998_example.JPG

It had tiny images, no breaking news, no Magazine and certainly no live streaming video. Yet it far exceeded the expectations an early internet user might have had as to how the BBC should deliver news online. Fast-forward 13 years through four major redesigns and we find ourselves in a very different online landscape, with a very different audience which has grown familiar with our design and format.

In the last couple of years, we've seen great leaps in our habits of consumption of content that are influencing web design now. Broadband and smartphone use have changed the speed and convenience with which we're accessing content. Social media services are also playing a part, changing how we communicate, share and manage our online lives.

Our redesign has taken into consideration many of these changes in behaviour, along with our findings from extensive user research and testing, to provide a better template to suit people's evolving needs. It's also a more flexible template which will allow us to implement features in the near future much more easily than in the past.

Navigation

The first thing you might notice is that the left-hand navigation has gone. A horizontal navigation now gives links to the same sections at the top of every page. This was one of the first - and certainly one of the most carefully considered - decisions made on the project, and one that we wouldn't have made without good reason.

First, there was the issue of how much horizontal space the left-hand navigation took up. Story templates and indexes (the front page, the Magazine index and the specialist indexes like business and politics) were always compromised by having 100 or so pixels taken up by a piece of unrelated navigation. Now we can offer larger images and galleries, videos and interactive graphics across the site.

Second, horizontal navigation has long been the standard method of navigation across the rest of the BBC and is an understood interaction that we were sure people would find easy to use.

To support this fundamental design change, we carried out a round of user testing, pitting the current site against one with identical content but a horizontal navigation. Users reacted positively across the board, some not even noticing the difference until it was pointed out to them. With this decision made, we were able to start the redesign of the whole site with a wider, blanker canvas.

Look and feel

Another major improvement to the site is the overall "look and feel" of all pages. We knew that altering the visual design of the site would be changing something familiar and easily used by many. But, as our use of the internet has changed in the past few years, so have our visual expectations.

Technical developments across the web have opened up new avenues for web designers, allowing design with finely-crafted typography for the first time. We worked with UK design luminary Neville Brody at Research Studios on establishing a new "global visual language" (GVL) to establish consistency in design and interaction across all of the BBC website. A more detailed post on this project, the processes used, its overall goals and how it's going to be rolled out across all sites can be read here.

Fundamental to the new GVL is bold, strong type and crisp, un-cluttered layouts. The gradients and textures of "Web 2.0" are gone, and everything is pared down to the minimum required for delivering news.

Words and imagery now sit confidently on the page, with few other distracting elements. Corners are straight-edged, not rounded. Buttons and other interactive elements are consistent and minimal. Everything sits rigidly to a strict baseline grid. Most of these changes might go un-noticed to the non-designers in our audience: we hope that's because they are comfortably finding stories free of distraction.

News front page and sections

Designing a news site's front page is a huge challenge, with dozens of internal and external stakeholders. It is the "shop front" through which many people start their journey and everyone has an opinion as to what should be in the window displays.

The BBC news website must highlight stories on a wide variety of subjects. The TV news output of a given week ranges from Panorama to Breakfast, and we have to present content of similar range on the site daily. We could have tried to satisfy everyone by giving each section an equal amount of permanent space, but that would make the site look far too much like a patchwork of wildly differing subjects. Instead, we developed a system to control the "volume" of subjects and stories.

In the previous design, the top story always carried the biggest image, with stories two and three taking smaller image sizes. This did not always work well if, for example, there were no strong images associated with the top story but, say, the number three story potentially had a great picture to go with it. We needed to create a template that was flexible enough to allow us to pick the right image size for the story, without being tied completely to its place on the page.

So now each of the top stories can be shown at different "volumes". A featured story can appear larger, with a picture or not, regardless of its place in the list of top stories. This allows a much broader scope for the index editor, who makes the decisions around what's being included on a day-to-day basis. For instance, a Glastonbury story can be shown with a large image, while a more newsworthy Budget story unfolds above it. The Budget remains the most visually prominent, and therefore the most editorially significant by its use of large, bold type.

These new flexible modules also bring more flexibility to section indexes. For example, the entertainment index can use image-based presentation for more of its stories, and the business index can use it for fewer. Images no longer need to be used just for the sake of it. This also frees up time where previously images needed to be sourced and cropped.

volume_examples.JPG

Another insight from user research was about scrolling habits. We'd assumed that nobody likes to scroll much on the web. After all, a rule common to most websites and web designers is to keep key content above the "fold". But we don't believe that's the case any more.

For instance, statistics show that a large amount of users use the "most popular" panel on story pages as their main way of moving around the site. Yet they weren't spending long enough on the pages to be actually reading more than the first few paragraphs. Instead, they were willing to scroll to a piece of navigation they were comfortable with.

With an incentive, users will scroll. If that proves a positive interaction, it's something that could become habitual. So rather than design our indexes and front page with everything at the top of the page, we are encouraging scrolling by putting richer content within stories and towards the bottom. In all our previous index designs, content became increasingly sparse as you scrolled. Large images appeared up top, but none were visible once they'd scrolled out of view. For the redesign, we've developed a consistent visually-rich "digest" that sits at the bottom of indexes.

Now a user can browse the main headlines, then scroll down to see many more from around the site. Rather than appearing as a footnote, they're given the same visual prominence as the main news of the day.

Story pages

Our previous template for articles was much loved, but could be improved. We know from user research that people are happy with the overall structure of a news article page, but analytics show us that the layout could be more effective.

Though the removal of the left-hand navigation gave us more horizontal space, we were apprehensive about using this as an opportunity to widen the story body. The current layout offers a comfortable reading experience with optimum type size and line length.

When we refreshed the site in 2008, some feedback suggested that the site's width should be stretched (flexible layout) and the user's browser size should set the line length for each individual. This has been a debate between web designers for many years. There are benefits and disadvantages to both approaches. Due to the complexity and unpredictability of page layouts, we have opted for a fixed layout so we can be sure everyone is seeing one consistent design

When our journalists create stories, they place images, fact-boxes and video and audio with an understanding of where they will appear to the user. To offer a flexible layout would lose that control, creating unpredictable layouts that wouldn't look great. Users can still view stories at a flexible width using an RSS reader, but for the "hi-web" version, stories need to be presented as well as possible.

The additional horizontal space does, though, free up space for bigger images and embedded videos. Special stories with interactive graphics can now sit across the full page width, allowing for richer infographics. And when the new space doesn't have a good reason to be filled with content, it remains blank, allowing the story to breathe.

Across the project, there was a concern that larger images, bolder headlines and more links could make pages overbearing. Having a column of white at the right-hand side of a story's body was one of the design decisions made explicitly to counter this.

A major change to the layout of story pages is the new placement of related stories and unrelated ones. In the previous story templates, links related to the story you're reading sit close-by in the top right. But our analytics show that not a lot of people are using those links. They act as a 'foothold', a familiar place of reference to read headlines of similar or earlier stories on the subject. But you can achieve that in a lot less space than we're currently using, with far fewer items. So the related links visible at the top of the page are now limited to four, and are embedded in the story body. For those who want to read in depth on a subject related to the article, the full offering of all related content now sits at the bottom, after the main story body.

Replacing the related links in the top right is a selection of modules promoting stories across the site. Around a quarter of you every day are now arriving at BBC News directly into story pages, after following a link from another site, such as a social network or news aggregation site. This means that many people are visiting stories, but not getting to see the main news of the day. With Top Stories prominently visible to every user, we allow for more 'sideways navigation'. People won't have to click back and forth from Front Page to story in order to read the stories of the day.

There are further modules beneath Top Stories, promoting the best Features & Analysis around the site, along with the ever-popular 'Most Popular' panel. In fact, it worked so well in the previous design you might ask why we didn't just move it to the top of this column.

If it's what people use and like, why not make it most prominent?

Well, it often consists of the quirkier stories on the site and is a varied mix. But people are finding this module easily anyway, and we wanted to still be able to communicate a sense of our own editorial priorities near the top of the page by picking out the key top stories of the day there.

Video

The integration of video content has been evolving almost as long as the site itself. Initially only very short clips were available, and at a very low quality. Their relationship to written stories was as additional, optional content. Over the years their quality has grown, as has their length. Now, thanks to the amazing work by the iPlayer team, we have an established format for long-form, high-quality programmes across the BBC.

But our integration of this content into News still had the legacy of it being added to the original structure of story pages. Video clips were embedded in story pages, or could be viewed as what we call "media asset pages" (MAPs), but these hadn't been created based on how people were using video or what they wanted from it. Now the MAPs have been purpose-designed to allow a richer media experience, using some of the interaction patterns from iPlayer.

Many people enjoyed navigating sideways between videos using the "most popular" panel, so we've made more of this. 15 videos are now browsable in the vertical carousel that sits at to the right of each clip. Additionally, we used our insight about users not necessarily being averse to scrolling again. If the user is viewing video content, and wants to watch more, he or she can scroll down to direct links to dozens of them, presented with images and divided by subject matter. And of course, a major aspect of these redesigned video pages is that the video itself is now significantly bigger.

Adverts

While the UK news site is licence-fee-funded, the international version is funded by advertising via our commercial arm, BBC Worldwide. Through investment from BBC Worldwide, we were set the dual challenge of creating an ad-free UK site layout which can seamlessly integrate and showcase advertising for the international audience. There aren't many other sites that have to produce content that appears so differently to people depending on their location.

One ad format proved difficult to implement, as its size would affect the whole structure and gridded layout of the site. So we devised a flexible layout, which stretches the right-hand column when a large ad is served. Like many of the improvements, it's something most of the audience will barely notice, but it was an essential problem to solve in order to offer the international version of the site to advertisers as a competitive commercial product.

The future

We have more exciting things in the pipeline. This template allows us to incorporate them easily, and to continue to adapt working alongside our audience. If you have any further questions about our design processes or why certain decisions have been made, feel free to ask them below and we'll try to answer them. Please bear in mind, though, that what you see today is just the first step.

Paul Sissons is UX Team Lead, BBC Future Media & Technology

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Are there any plans to update the 'My News & Weather Location' panel so that it uses coding/technology similar to the BBC home page in order to load the correct regional news. At present though it displays the town name you've entered (and county during selection) it loads the regional news which is related to the nearest forecast location, which isn't necessarily in the same county.

  • Comment number 2.

    Overall a good refresh, but it looks weird that the story page text still leaves a large margin to the right. It makes the quote callouts, and images (which do align with the right hand column) look strange.

    You've got that space. Why restrict the text to a narrower column?

  • Comment number 3.

    The new look is a big usability regression. Arguably this is more than a subjective comment. What about concrete metrics?

    Information density has fallen. What is the ratio of content to white space? The story pages are larger than before, more whitespace, more padding. That is a density loss.

    Information has been lost. The old main page had headlines and short summaries. Now the new main page has some stories with only headlines. There is no space for summaries because of the density reduction and layout changes.

    Readers come to the home page and want to know what is happening. The headlines give the one-liners. The summaries give the overview detail. Now some of the summaries are missing. Headlines are not enough. Often they are jokey or catchy one liners that do not tell the story. They are to catch attention. Please bring back the summary under the headlines.

    The 4 column news story format is terrible. This is not a newspaper. It is much harder to read a story when it has only 2-3 words per line. Unlike print, the wrapping does not use hyphenation. That means more white space is added to pad the lines. This is further waste of space and loss of density.

    As I read the front page now I can see only 4 stories on the screen (hires) that have more than a headline. What kind of news site is this now. You are condeming your readers to scolling and click through when before they could just see it.

    I read that a new technology has been used to generate and render the site. I am not against improvements in your backend publishing systems. However, the re-skinning and re-design has lost what was a well crafted and evolved presentation of the news. There is less infomation and it is spread out over more space.

    Where is low graphics? What about text browsers and a decent mobile browsing experience?

    Millions of people read the BBC news. Why not use them to help you design the site? Run the new site in parallel with the old with easy switching. Have a big feedback button. Ask the crowd for ideas on the format. I can assure you in a million people there will be good ideas. As it stands this failed redesign has been imposed on the world. The "HIPO" problem.

    Please change your processes.

    Run new layouts live as a beta site and go live when users show they prefer it.

  • Comment number 4.

    why not open up the datafeeds as standard web APIs then 3rd parties can mash up the content themselves?

  • Comment number 5.

    The "most popular" box has a massive font and area now. Who designed the new sizes and layout? Have they got eyesight difficulties. All the padding, lines, numbers and borders. It is a total waste of space. Why not a compact list of 10 items?

    The technology changed. Sadly the great compact web design got left behind. Please bring back the original designers. You need them.

  • Comment number 6.

    What to do with all the whitespace down the side? What to do with the gaps in the banner?

    Add a feedback button!
    Add a like/dislike poll.

    Have the courage to ask your audiance what they think of the new site. If these blogs are the only option then your feedback is the tip of the iceberg. User feedback is a valuable resource not an annoyance in the way of backend changes.

    Please change your processes and ask your users...

  • Comment number 7.

    I strongly disagree that the new look and feel of the site is a "major improvement" - it is quite the contrary.

    The redesign has managed to utilise far more space than is necessary and yet produce a page that feels far more cluttered than it was before.

    At the moment the main page is dominated by a picture of Andrew Marr (whom I like, but don't think rates such prominence on the page), the pic illustrating the splash story is much smaller; the news stories are swamped by the design - surely this was not a remit of the redesign?

  • Comment number 8.

    <RICHPOST>I'm sorry but some of this doesn't make sense. Under "Navigation" you say:<BR /> >"<i>The first thing you might notice is that the left-hand navigation has gone. A horizontal navigation now gives links to the same sections at the top of every page. This was one of the first - and certainly one of the most carefully considered - decisions made on the project, and one that we wouldn't have made without good reason.</i>"<BR /><BR />On the one hand, I find it hard to believe it very considered ebcause surely if it worked it worked for a reason? On the other, I know that navigation preference is personal. Why else would several websites and CMS engines have top-or-side as a configurable option?<BR /><BR />What I really object to is the following:<BR /> >"<i>First, there was the issue of how much horizontal space the left-hand navigation took up. Story templates and indexes (the front page, the Magazine index and the specialist indexes like business and politics) were always compromised by having 100 or so pixels taken up by a piece of unrelated navigation.</i>"<BR /><BR />For one, overall site navigation is never truly unrelated. It was really useful ti be able to access the various news top-levels even when the masthead area was scrolled out of sight.<BR /><BR />For another, the right-had column is now this fat section full of unrelated links that are really bold and brash and distract from the main content.<BR /><BR />Which brings me to my next point.<BR /><BR /> >"<i>In the previous story templates, links related to the story you're reading sit close-by in the top right. But our analytics show that not a lot of people are using those links. <br><BR />...<br><BR />...<br><BR />For those who want to read in depth on a subject related to the article, the full offering of all related content now sits at the bottom, after the main story body.</i>"<BR /><BR />Actually, I much preferred being able to see related stories even before reading the main content. Or sometimes I would try to follow the history-chain through stories. I won't be able to do that now without having to scroll for each and every story.<BR /><BR />Of course, I should hardly be surprised. You pulled the same trick on this very Blog. Moving the "recently commented posts" section from the top-right of the page to the bottom.<BR /><BR /> >"<i>Another insight from user research was about scrolling habits. We'd assumed that nobody likes to scroll much on the web. After all, a rule common to most websites and web designers is to keep key content above the "fold". But we don't believe that's the case any more. </i>"<BR /><BR />That's a shame. As mentioned above, I now have two BBC sites I regularly visit (or did... BBC News is now less geared to how I skim-read news and therefore not suited to my requirements) that have moved the bits I regularly use to "below the fold". I like that key content in the first part of the page, thankyouverymuch.<BR /><BR />Basically you've not refreshed the News pages. You've thrown them out and replaced them with something completely new.<BR /><BR />Which tells me one thing. You don't care one bit about anyone who actually visited the site already. As surely if they bothered to read it regularly, they liked how it was?</RICHPOST>

  • Comment number 9.

    I appreciate that it's important to keep fresh, but this new design just isn't coherent. It's a visual mess. Looking at the BBC UK page there is a dark red banner for Home/News etc, then the red News UK, then a black Home World UK banner, which has the worst rendered font I have ever seen.

    On the left there is news, then also in the news, then a massive dark blue "Add my news and weather" section that is a different style from everything else and breaks up the page gratingly, then more from the UK - which is all rather disjointed.

    On the right it has a blue, black and orange video box, then light blue features box, then a light blue most popular box that unlike the features box has a white background, and only has 1 item for each day rather than the current list, then a black iPlayer box. 4 different visual styles in a row.

    Then below all that, a random collections of things that seem tagged on like Mark Easton's view and find your MP, with loads of white space round it, and finally some more white space and massive graphics for services

    What it actually looks like is a home page constructed in iGoogle, with unrelated content spewed on to the page with no thought for visual cohesion or usability.

    You could improve a lot by;

    1) pick a colour scheme, and use it consistently
    2) Use standard fonts
    3) Don't break thinks up as much
    4) Show most popular now, not this week
    5) Don't just dump things you can't find a space for at the bottom of the page.

  • Comment number 10.

    So many words, so much justification, for such a disaster.

    I feel sorry for all the journalists whose work is now displayed in this mess of a website. They deserve better. They deserve the old site.

    It's honestly the first time I've thought about abandoning my long-standing habit of spending a lot of time on the BBC news website each day. The new layout and design is so awful it makes me physically sick to the extent that I cannot bring myself to spend more than 20 seconds on the home page. At the moment, I find that the only way I can access BBC content without feeling lost and angry is through following links in my daily email reminders - as these are still presented in a sensible, ordered, easy to navigate way. If the email notifications are changed, I won't be able to visit the BBC website at all.

    I've already started looking for other news portals to use. Sorry, but there is no way that I am willing to spend any time in a site that is this awful.

  • Comment number 11.

    I'm no design expert, and have no knowledge of web design. But as a bog standard regular visitor to the BBC News site, I can tell you that my eyes hurt after browsing the new BBC News site. Why? Is it the 'clash' between the white and red/maroon colours? The site seems to be 'screaming' at me.

    In contrast, your screenshot of the 1997 front page looks serene in comparison. Looks lovely, clean, simple, easy on the eye. I can't get to grip with the new BBC News front page, seems to be too many different things going on there, all 'jumbled up' and messy.

  • Comment number 12.

    Although I didn't take immediately to the new design, if I now look at Sports stories, which use the old design, they already feel old, small and badly organised. To have made that much of an impression so quickly is credit to the improvements.

    It's nice to see that real thought and investigation has been put into this change. One wonders how much input actual readers have, but since you've been reviewing analytic data and discussing the changes, it's clear that the updates are justified.

    The new design isn't without its problems - which have been numerously raised on The Editor's blog - but ultimately I'm now seeing a much better news experience that you promise - and I'll hold you to this - will have the nicks ironed out. Smart moves, guys.

  • Comment number 13.

    I would be interested to know how to read stories in variable width using an RSS reader - all the RSS news feeds I can see only give the first line or so (RSS readers work well for the blogs)

  • Comment number 14.

    To begin, take a look at how the BBC News site looked 22nd August 2008 using the ‘Way Back Machine’ http://web.archive.org/web/20080822043940/http://news.bbc.co.uk/

    I start this comment with this link because I think we should all take a step to refresh ourselves where we have come from and where we now are with the new design.

    I have read the Editors Blog, and Paul Sissons comments from a design point of view. It would appear that it is for commercial reasons (being able to serve adverts to non UK users of the site) and as You Tube has, removing certain ‘fancy’ elements saves in the long run money hosting the site and all the pages which are updated on the site.

    When Paul Sissons talks of:

    “...strong type and crisp, un-cluttered layouts. The gradients and textures of "Web 2.0" are gone, and everything is pared down to the minimum required for delivering news.”

    I take that to mean the BBC has now invented Web 3.0 which is the plain and simple web, a ‘retro’ hark back to the past.

    In some ways the old BBC news site was indeed a little cluttered, and I do understand about the need to bring content in a clear and east to get at design – bigger images, more video etc. But the changes that have been pushed upon us (because there certainly was no ‘feedback’ link about the redesign and thoughts to such for the masses leading up to this).

    I do not agree that people now are ok with scrolling. I cannot stand Blogs that go on endlessly. And now, what used to appear on the right of the site, take Rory’s Technology Blog – lurks several rounds on the scroll wheel at the bottom of the page past some god awful grey box slap bang in the middle for my ‘local news’.

    The BBC News site DID have an edge, it DID look different to the rest of the BBC websites and the likes of CNN, Sky etc too. It was bold just like your Studios are, your theme music is, it makes a statement. Now the new site just blends in with others. You say the content is still all there, it may well be, but it certain feels thin on the ground now.

    In short, the BBC News website now looks like an everyday website one can make up themselves with the likes of squarespace.com that simply displays news.

    I’m sorry BBC you might be putting a brave face on this and trying to whether the storm, but you went a little too far with your ‘simplification’ of the site.

  • Comment number 15.

    I am a U/X specialist and use the BBC website a lot. I have discovered some usability issues with the BBC home page banner control that I thought you should know about. I put together a doc that explains the issues and I would like to send over, where can I send it?

  • Comment number 16.

    My previous post link failed. go to To begin, take a look at how the BBC News site looked 22nd August 2008 using the ‘Way Back Machine’ http://web.archive.org and then search 'news.bbc.co.uk' to see the previous pages and design.

  • Comment number 17.


    The new format fails to meet accessibility best practice guidlines in terms of support for the visually impaired. It fails basic usability metrics with regard to the old format with simple tasks taking much longer.

    It is also aesthetically unappealing and looks like what it is a generic poorly executed rip-of of the CNN brand identity.

    Change it back now please.

  • Comment number 18.

    The BBC has missed the point.

    When the BBC say that the only reason people are unhappy with it is because it's "unfamiliar", the BBC is mistaking "unfamiliar" with "un-intuitive".

    You can have a site that you've never visited before and be able to instantly scan it and intuitively know where things are that you want to see if it's designed well; this is what the BBC news site used to be like.

    Now it's an un-intuitive mess, impossible to "scan".

    It's not that it's "unfamiliar", it's that the redesign never took account of how people actually read/scan/use news sites.

    Sky did a similar redesign a couple of years ago on their news site which turned their site into a complete mess. Before their redesign I was visiting sky at least a couple of times a day. After their redesign I only bothered visiting once a week or so and used the BBC for most things news-related. Now the reverse will be true; I'll now be using sky for my main web news source, and only visit the bbc site once a week or so.

    Sky's redesign was pretty dire; for the BBC to make their own site even worse than the sky un-intuitive blocky tabloid childish mess really takes some doing.

    Please, BBC, stop saying people are just "unfamiliar" with it; "familiarity" is irrelevant; the point is that it's not intuitive; it breaks all the basic rules of web design. You've gone "twitter-like" on a content-rich site, and that's just plain wrong; it simply doesn't work.

    There's more than one news site available; when the one you've been actively using turns into an unreadable/unscannable mess, people will simply leave and go to another site.

    When Sky did this it was a bit annoying, but at least it was their/their-customer's money and not my money. When the BBC do it it's a lot more annoying, because it's MY money as a tax-payer that they've thrown down the pan to create such a childish tabloid mess.

  • Comment number 19.

    DOES

    A LOT

    OF WHITE

    SPACE

    LOOK

    GOOD?

    Why can't the text be justified? It looks much neater. Images, links spilling off the side look very unprofessional.

  • Comment number 20.

    Honestly, I stopped reading for now when I saw "We'd assumed that nobody likes to scroll much on the web. After all, a rule common to most websites and web designers is to keep key content above the "fold". But we don't believe that's the case any more." and "... we encouraged scrolling".

    This is a crock and you know it.

    Honestly, that other blog post (pt 2) had 2500+ comments. That's a record for a BBC story. Do you not think that they might be trying to tell you something or do you think that all 90%+ were just misinformed when they disliked it?

  • Comment number 21.

    Two thousand, one hundred and thirty comments on The Editors Blog. Mostly negative, as I've skimmed most of the pages. This is not the indicator of a good change.

    And the latest post on The Editors is trying to imply an equal balance of positive and negative responses. Most of them are from from positive...

  • Comment number 22.

    Paul

    I hate to appear rude, but I think you and your team have ruined the best news site, and one of the best sites of all, on the internet.

    I'll leave it for others to supply the details, in much better ways than I can.

    Not happy :-(

  • Comment number 23.

    The front page redesign is not a good thing at all. I keep the website open during the day and refresh to see changes in news, and everything used to be in a compact and easily readable fashion that presented relevant starting points to articles. I don't mind scrolling if it's something that I know that I want to read; I'm already engaged and interested, I want to know more and I am actively paying attention to that page and story. Being forced to scroll through mountains of random nonsense that I don't care about just to sift out interesting pieces is not a good use of my time and it makes me angry, frankly.

    As far as I'm concerned, the whole purpose of a news site's front page is to provide jumping-in points on articles in an easily-navigated fashion. I don't know what I'm looking for, so I want to see a quick shot of everything in a convenient fashion. You have taken an existing, working format, stretched it out and strewn links around like scattered children's toys on the ground. It is now actually an impediment to reading your articles, and I don't like it.

  • Comment number 24.

    Strange that the users in your test reacted positively across the board to horizontal navigation, when your actual users, well, didn't. That would seem to indicate a problem with your sampling and testing process.

    The bottom line is you have made the site less functional for many users. You may have the ability to use larger images and have more control over images for stories as a result, but I don't think many of your end users are going to be saying "Well, I've got a headache, and it's taking me longer to find what I'm looking for... but there are bigger pictures and more videos! Hooray!" somehow.

    As for your 'global visual language', that could be a good thing in principle... but unfortunately the language you seem to be using is one of simplification and style over substance. This is a step backwards for most, if not all, of your sites.

    You may have had reasonable goals, but the execution has been shoddy. You've discarded much of what worked effectively and replaced it with inadequate substitutions. Overall grade: F.

  • Comment number 25.

    I agree with Tiggs (5.12pm)

    There is an enormous amount of "justification" from the BBC on this. The last refresh was a far more measured and successful upgrade.

    I'm not talking about the "shock of the new" - the execution of the top menus, whilst laudable, is so awful that as a web designer, I'm still reeling.

    With all the new white space on the page, there is no justification for the clutter up top - this is why, despite your research, putting all your menus horizontally on a site the size of BBC news doesn't necessarily work. The committees started with a reasonable idea then just closed their eyes...

    So stand back, take a deep breath and look at your menus again.

    And then just admit you were wrong and sort it out. Then we'll all go away ands you won't have to write long blogs justifying your actions. If the refresh was successful, you wouldn't be doing that!


  • Comment number 26.

    Paul, you mention the modules; why not let us choice where they are, if at all, like the BBC homepage?

  • Comment number 27.

    The new site is terrible and given the amount of negative feedback you have received it is clear that most people agree with this viewpoint.

    The BBC site was where I went because I wanted to avoid lots of pictures and video, I just wanted the news.

    It was the best in the world (that I had come across), the people responsible for this should be hanging their heads in shame. No doubt there were plenty of business buzzwords zooming around about how great it would be.

    Put it back the way it was.

  • Comment number 28.

    "...encourage scrolling..."?

    Have you heard about carpal tunnel syndrome?

  • Comment number 29.

    I'm afraid I hate the scrolling. There is too much scrolling. Granted, you say if there's an incentive for users to scroll, then it will become habitual. But in my case, it will just become an annoyance. Maybe it's because I'm using a touchpad mouse - if I had a scrolling mouse, maybe I'd notice this difference a little less. But it 'feels' as though it takes longer to reach the same content that I used to before the big overhall. And everything looks so much bigger and brash, as if it's screaming at me 'LOOK HERE', 'OOH WHAT'S THIS?', 'READ ME!!!'.

    When compared to the previous design (http://web.archive.org/web/20080822043940/http://news.bbc.co.uk/), the 'upgrade' isn't a patch on the old one.

  • Comment number 30.

    Why have the "related stories" links been lost with the clutter at the foot of the story? Even the "Services" icons block (news feed, mobile, podcast, alerts etc) in the footer has given more space.

    The "related stories" used to have prime position in the right hand side area. They earn that place because a jump to a related story is a key navigation link and one that is not available elsewhere. These links are now virtually lost (unless you scroll down and look really really closely in the clutter).

    How many users clicked related stories on the old and new pages? The click logs will show that those links are lost.

    What has replaced "related links" on the right hand side?

    First, "Top stories" yet these can be found by clicking on the main index for the section. Why waste valuable right hand side area by duplicating those links here? Are you actively trying to drive traffic to you index pages?

    Second, "Features and analysis" and these do not seem even related to the news story.

    Third, "Most Popular" with massive text assuming we are all visually impaired.

    The "related stories" themselves are in the old style of the site and show how good the layout used to be. Is that why they have been hidden away, to discourage comparisons?

  • Comment number 31.

    Compare before and after for "related stories/see also" here:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10602697
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6217502.stm

  • Comment number 32.

    Why are the Channel Islands not recognised in the local news box now, it used to work fine on the old site, but not anymore. It seems to recognise the locations but then once you confirm it the area where the local content should go just stays blank.

  • Comment number 33.

    @25: I'm not certain, but I imagine the justification is at least partially because of the recent need for accountability in the BBC and other public services. Ever since the expenses scandal, we the public have - rightfully - insisted on knowing what goes on behind the scenes of our public services. A few years back, the BBC could spend money on a website redesign and no-one would question it. Nowadays, there's much more public interest and awareness; as well as a greater want to input. It's to do with the way both the internet and public services have changed since the 2008 redesign.

  • Comment number 34.

    "With an incentive, users will scroll. If that proves a positive interaction, it's something that could become habitual.

    "So rather than design our indexes and front page with everything at the top of the page, we are encouraging scrolling by putting richer content within stories and towards the bottom.

    What? Intentionally making users scroll by hiding the valuable information out of sight?

    "In all our previous index designs, content became increasingly sparse as you scrolled. Large images appeared up top, but none were visible once they'd scrolled out of view.

    The previous index designs had it right. Importance trails off as the page trails off. Less important is further away or smaller.

    "For the redesign, we've developed a consistent visually-rich "digest" that sits at the bottom of indexes.


    The redesign is upside down. Less important items have better placement and larger size. It should be the other way around.

    Are you trying to force users to read the story by hiding their next navigation links in the footer?

  • Comment number 35.

    Mr. Sissons, it is simply a badly designed page. Why? Because the moment the site comes up on the screen, my eyes don't know where to go. Each page is cram-full of things that cry for attention: "Look here, no please stop looking there - LOOK HERE, and how about looking HERE?" And so on. The effect on my brain is that my attention gets scattered, then peters out, resulting in me losing interest in doing what I came for in the first place - reading world news. The ugly colours and fonts and the general absence of stylishness don't make me stay either, so I leave looking for news elsewhere.

    If the BBC wants their website visitors to actually read the stories, you simply cannot risk putting your visitors into such a counterproductive state of mind. The old design did not have that effect on me, the new one does. Because of that, there is only one conclusion: Mr. Sissons, you and your team's new design is a failure. Probably a well intentioned one, but a failure nevertheless.

    Take a step back from the screen, close your eyes, take some deep breaths, then look at the BBC News website in its current state again and maybe then you'll realize: "Oh my, what have we done? How could we get it so wrong?"

    Please, PLEASE go back to the drawing board and start from scratch. This is not just some website we're talking about, it is one of the most important sites for world news on the planet, and currently it looks like a wrongly hammered together jigsaw puzzle. What have you done indeed.

  • Comment number 36.

    I think it looks good. The old one was getting cluttered and this one still gives access to everything you need and is easier to use on iPhone sized screens which I do sometimes. Well done.

  • Comment number 37.

    "And when the new space doesn't have a good reason to be filled with content, it remains blank, allowing the story to breathe."

    Breathe? What on earth are you on about?! It makes the articles harder to read which to me is against everything this website should be.

  • Comment number 38.

    I'm terribly sorry but I just can't find any element of the new design that I prefer over the old one. The old look was clear, elegant, tidy and distinct, very difficult to improve. The changes have definitely spoiled it. The fonts and the colours just don't feel right and the layout is loose and uncomfortable to look at. The content of the front page has been weakened. The site has lost its personality. It looks like a tabloid, not like BBC.

    PLEASE BRING THE OLD LOOK BACK!!

  • Comment number 39.

    sorry if I have missed anything, but I cannot see as yet a response to the queries about the poor rendering in Google Chrome.

  • Comment number 40.

    And I forgot to say: you've lost one reader until there is an acceptable design, hopefully similar to the old one.

  • Comment number 41.

    At 7:13pm on 15 Jul 2010, peterH wrote:

    "Are you trying to force users to read the story by hiding their next navigation links in the footer?"

    Or forcing them to scroll down so they are subjected to all the ads on the Worldwide pages?

  • Comment number 42.

    Pants, man.... just change it back!

  • Comment number 43.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 44.

    A shambolic defence of an awful redesign. Read between the lines and you are trying to change what people want, not give it to them. Guaranteed to fail, and egotistical to think you know better.

  • Comment number 45.

    I want to say "nobody wants the new style", but I know that's not quite true. Some people like it. Some state good reasons. And some just have different stylistic preference than I do, so for them the changes are positive.

    But well over two thousand comments say they don't want it. Some incoherant rambling, but many many actual critical suggestions saying what does work, what would work better, or why the old version was superior.

    Personally, I just say make everything modular, and give the end-user complete control of what modules they see. Let those of us who want a navigation sidebar have it. let those two genuinely prefer topbars have that. Allow each section to be displayed depending on the user's choice of whether they want to see it or not.

    Or you could just give us the old site back.
    That might almost make up for the two days of constant spin telling me my opinion and preference is wrong.

  • Comment number 46.

    It seems obvious from reading the blogs that the people responsible for the dreadful new design will do anything to justify their flawed design decisions!
    The fact remains that the new "look" is vastly more unfriendly to use than before. No amount of justification of the new design will correct that. For example, the comments about encouraging scrolling are pure nonsense - anyone with any common sense knows that scrolling should be reduced to a minimum... that is a fundamental element of good webpage design. There may be some advantage in a top navigation bar, since it frees up the left hand side. But this advantage has been totally lost by the ridiculous amount of whitespace everywhere! The broken paragraph ridden text blocks -which take no account of the grammatical need for a new paragraph- are very distracting when following the story.
    I hope that someone at high level will take action to 1. investigate how such an amount of scarce funding could be squandered on this project 2. enforce a restoration of the previous version, at least in large part. 3. Demote or remove those responsible so they can't waste more of our licence fees in the future.
    It is obvious that most readers hate this new design. This is for a very good reason... it's horrible to use and read! On a smaller screen (netbook, mobile device) it is almost impossible, since so little content can be seen at once. So much scrolling is needed that track of the subject is lost. It is also straining to the eyes. So obvious!! Most users can see that.. it's disconcerting that those responsible can't. Whoever this "luminary" design consultant is, they have not shone very brightly on this project! They should learn some fundamental elements of page design before trying anything similar again!! LOL

  • Comment number 47.

    @34 Greg Tyler

    Fair point - that of course is the reason for the articles introducing the new site - I was really referring to reaction to the erm, reactions!

    Ironically, money and effort will be spent reading all the negative comment and writing more blogs with more justification.

    Judging by head/sand attitude to complaints, they'll save millions ignoring them, though.

    Had the refresh being successful, I'd be reading now, not writing!

    James (46) beat me to it - dearly love to know exactly how much money has been spent on this exercise.

    Would also be very interested to see the results of feedback of their beta testers and how much they took it into account...

    One sentence per paragraph.

    Annoying, isn't it?

  • Comment number 48.

    It's still naff.
    Why are the diddy stories i.e. Also in the news promoted ahead of many more proper news items?

    Why are the related links hidden at the bottom?

    Why is half the screen blank?

    Why are the fonts higgledy-piggledy?

    Seriously, the people who designed this have made a huge mistake.
    The people that authorised it need sacked.

  • Comment number 49.

    Flawed design objectives, flawed design.

    The previous design worked for me because I could scan it quickly and judge for myself what the important stories were. I was free to ignore the editors' ideas about what the agenda for the day was and follow what interested me. I could get the broad picture quickly and dive down into the detail where I wanted. That's now clearly not a browsing behaviour that the site sets out to support. That arrogance of thought has translated quite well into a site that imposes itself visually on viewers rather than seeking to understand and meet their requirements.

    - The supposedly different weights for different importances go out the window in the menu where the home countries and regions are lost in a busy and poorly arranged horizontal menu at the top.

    - Scrolling might be fun on a touch screen smart phone for the easily amused - not so much on other devices.

    - Staring at a bright white screen with so much whitespace gives me a headache. I know that many designers think you can't have too much whitespace - maybe you could cater for them with a special stylesheet that sets visibility:hidden for everything. I never visited the news site to see whitespace though, I visited for the news. I can stare at a sheet of paper if I want the real whitespace experience. Are the commissioners of the site so much in awe of their designers that they ignore the evidence of their own eyes?

    - As for the numbers next to the most read/shared: why do I care what number they are? What does it add to my knowledge of what's going on? What a waste of screen space.

    I'll check back in a few months time - in the meantime I'm off to MSN or Yahoo or Google News or the Herald or the Guardian or the Telegraph etc etc

  • Comment number 50.

    when will the sport site be redesigned?

  • Comment number 51.

    In a few words ........... it's dreadful. Each morning I go on to your web site and it so informative and an enjoyable experience. I'm not against change - usually love it - but this new website is appalling.
    Why change something that was so good and worked so well?
    Sarah C.

  • Comment number 52.

    The new design is terrible, Even at high resolutions I have to horizontal scroll on pages. People don't mind vertical scroll because pretty much all mice have a vertical scroll wheel, horizontal scroll at a 1920x1080 screen resolution makes me think the person who design the site is useless. The stories aren't columnised which makes them difficult to read and most stories have no left margin which I find makes them incredibly hard to read. I have to do more clicks to get to stories (hint bad thing) and most the new stories are hidden behind web 2.0 nonsense.

    This old design did need updating but this "design" and I use the term loosely seems to take all the worst ideas about web 2.0 and implement them for no benefit. If this is the direction BBC news online is taking I'll be supporting Murdoch in getting the site yanked, I certainly won't be using it.

  • Comment number 53.

    Argh - a complete failure on all levels of design theory.

    1) "With an incentive, users will scroll." So what - with an incentive, I'll walk 20 miles. Doesn't mean I want to do it, enjoy it, or would be prepared to do it on a daily basis. This is the reverse of proper design methodolody: "We want to make this, people won't mind TOO much, so why not?"

    2) "Special stories with interactive graphics can now sit across the full page width, allowing for richer infographics." Except they can't, because when the 'interactive picture' width exceeds the width of the text column, the picture gets cropped. Poor.

    3) "If it's what people use and like, why not make it most prominent?" Fine, but it's currently BIGGER than the headlines, and pretty much obliterates all content placed near it.

    4) "we were set the dual challenge of creating an ad-free UK site layout which can seamlessly integrate and showcase advertising for the international audience." This rather proves a comment I sent in via the Newswatch comment page, that the BBC is prioritising non-UK readers over the people that fund the majority of the organisation. Your ad-free version of the site in the UK is, right now, showing me about 50% white space. Unacceptable, and useless.

    5) You have no accessibility features, whatsoever.

    6) Your site design has failed to be rolled out across the board, resulting in the navigation bar jumping from the top to the now completely-unused left portion of the screen depending on what I'm looking at. According to my PC, my mouse cursor now moves 65-90% more when browsing this site than before - this is not a usability improvement.

    7) Finally, and most significantly, browsing this site from behind certain content filtering systems, i.e. work filtering systems, is now not possible. Endemic use of social media links are causing errors on most pages, and the prevalence of video is doubling/trebling page loading times/bandwidth use.

    Congratulations Mr. Sissons, this re-design has pretty much sealed the deal on Murdoch getting the BBC's online presence crushed - you did it for him.

  • Comment number 54.

    Dear Paul

    Perhaps you could tell us how much the redesign cost? A great many people have asked that question on your colleague Steve Herrmann's blog, but for some reason he doesn't seem to have got round to answering yet.

  • Comment number 55.

    In response to 24:

    "Strange that the users in your test reacted positively across the board to horizontal navigation, when your actual users, well, didn't. That would seem to indicate a problem with your sampling and testing process."

    Correct, as it happens (I work in Market Research). Here's one of their approaches (all quotes from here are from Ms. Frankowska-Takhari's blog): "For this particular study we recruited fourteen participants aged 16 to 55+ (ensuring a 50/50 gender split, and a mix of experienced and inexperienced internet users)."

    14 people, across a wide demographic and internet use background - what a complete and utter joke. Just to get a vague idea of what's appropriate, you'd pretty much want, oh, 20 times as many, at least. Otherwise you have about 1 male teenager, 1 female teenager, etc. Your result variance is probably in excess of 100%.

    "The studies were carried out both in-house and with external usability agencies, and provided us with heaps of qualitative data."

    By it's nature, qualitative data is more fluid and prone to variation than quantitative, as it deals with subjective opinions, and is open to the analyst's interpretation. From the sound of it, the BBC analysts interpreted it wrong.

  • Comment number 56.

    Dear Paul,
    The navigation font - World, UK, England, N Ireland and the rest is very difficult to read almost like the letters have been eaten my marauding ants. In fact apart from when there is a white background all of the fonts on coloured backgrounds appear broken.

    This site looks like it is becoming a comic strip for children rather than a mature well informed news organisation.

    This has all the appearance of being an American site hence if I comment about the "colour" or the "organisation" the spell checker you have on this comment box highlights a spelling error and offers "color"/"organization" as the correct spelling. Are you and your staff based in the USA? Why can we British not have a British site?

    Don't like it.

    The whole site comes across as very unprofessional.

  • Comment number 57.

    You can explain, 'tell the story', ignore 95% of your users, whatever you want to call it, but it will not change the fact that you have created a poor website.

    If you really think the response has been 'mixed' then you are delusional!

    We are not complaining simply because you changed something. I personally love change, but this is not good change. For the vast majority of users you have made your own content harder to access.

    I don't want to click through pages, I just want a menu of news headlines, like we used to have, that I can pick and choose stories from.

  • Comment number 58.

    I am not a regular blogger by any means but feel compelled to agree with many posts here that the site layout is poor and presents presents a very unprofessional image of the BBC. The removal of the side topic list is a step backwards.

    BBC News has been my home page for years, however in response, I have now switched to another news provider. This is a shame as I feel that the previous site layout was spot on. Please please bring back the old layout.

  • Comment number 59.

    "we are encouraging scrolling"

    Those 4 words say it all. You deliberately made a terrible layout.

    Old users hate it and new users won't stick around after the initial "what the hell" experience. There's no "getting used to" a crappy design. If it's not good on the first try, people won't stick around. That's the number 1 rule of website design.

  • Comment number 60.

    I am one of the many people who for the first time, have been compelled to comment.

    Please listen to us. This is not bickering about change because we are resistant to it. It is because you have managed to loose the key usability requirement - which is to capture the news at a glance.

    I am tired of the positive spin the BBC are putting out. Be honest, it's not worked out how you hoped.

  • Comment number 61.

    "Scrolling Behaviors -
    Sometimes, users do read down an entire page. It does happen. Rarely."

    "Web users spend 80% of their time looking at information above the page fold. Although users do scroll, they allocate only 20% of their attention below the fold. "

    The above are quotes from Jakob Nielsen, if you don't know who he is, look him up. Then email him and ask him to comment on the "old" and "new" websites. I would be interested to hear his views.

  • Comment number 62.

    The site still navigates well. All is well-signposted. Structural and organisational novelties require some learning, easy curve for me, can't vouch for others.
    THE PROBLEM to my mind is esthetic. The new look, for sure the new look of the all-important home page, is not an improvement. It suffers from 'fontaiasis': I believe you have raised point sizes and I'm certain you've got too much bold type there. Color is splashed too liberally as well. Esthetically, I don't see a net gain. Whatever may have been achieved in satisfying various other criteria does not make up for what has been lost in terms of focus, crispness and sobriety, which must be weighted carefully in light of the 'core business' of serving information with authority.
    I noticed another more generic comment that talks about losing distinctiveness and "blending in" with other news sites, including your own, and I totally agree.
    Hope to see this adjusted next time around.

  • Comment number 63.

    Very nice redesign. I think a lot of people don't realise how much work and testing and planning goes into redesigning a site. Of course you now need to update this page and take out the old web2.0 gradients and corners ;-)

    the old "users don't scroll" myth has been disproved for a few years now. Well, it wasn't a myth, but it was a product of users who were unfamiliar with the web. These days everyone is familiar with the web, people realise that there is more content below the fold, and they know that there is a scroll bar on the right.

    You do however now need to get all your other sites in order, and get them all using the same navigation and styles, because right now there seem to be about 4 different systems on different sub-sites, and that's kind of confusing.

    (and please provide alternatives/transcripts for those who can't watch video - everyone at work, those outside the UK, etc..)

  • Comment number 64.

    I'm sorry but it looks like your news site has been 'undesigned' by someone who is at best partially sighted. Changing the news nav bar from vertical to horizontal just doesn't work - you can't have two crappy horizontal nav bars on top of each other on a site like this, you're the BBC, you're meant to be the best of the best!

    Get a second opinion from a developer who can implement a clean modern design with good css and up-to-date javascript. The BBC is meant to set the bar and you just haven't managed it this time. I really hope you didn't give the idiot who did this more than about £200 because that's it's worth, but what's the betting you spent a good £5 - £10k of license payers' money on this piece of amateurish nonsense?

  • Comment number 65.

    I have very high expectations of the BBC, and I use the website for news daily, and first my first impressions of the redesign are overall positive.
    Not very critical, but well done.

  • Comment number 66.

    @56: I assume you're using Firefox (or another browser that has a spell checking addon), as the BBC doesn't have it's own spell-checker for the comments box.

  • Comment number 67.

    There are several factors you have failed to consider, with regards to whitespace, fixed-width, and horizontal menus.

    When you do horizontal menus, you are restricted to the length-of-text far more so than a vertical menu. This limits the number of menu items per row. This forces you to use sub-menus and to categorise things. It results in an overly complicated menu system.

    Fixed width pages are outdated. I know a lot of other sites use them, but they are also wrong to do so. Fixed-width pages are for print-outs. If you're a good designer, you'll design it for 100%-width, and use the min-width CSS setting.
    Have you tried viewing lengthy articles on a 1920px x 1080x monitor resolution? Your page widths may have increased since 1997, but the article-text width: maybe not.


    On the front page, all I see are lists and horizontal lines, bold uninteresting headlines with related big and uninteresting pictures.
    I come to the news site looking for the "Other articles" that I am interested in. They're no longer as prominent. They're hidden in the somewhere on the page in a bland list.
    I was able before, to scan the page as it had loaded, and already pluck out 4 or 5 stories that grabbed my attention. That's before I started to scroll.

    As a comparison: Old Layout vs New Layout is Concise vs Vacant





  • Comment number 68.

    I would say that 95% of the people commenting on the BBC website don't like it.

    So is the BBC going to change it back or is it a case of we can complain as much as we want but you will just ignore us.

    Not Happy.

    Peter

  • Comment number 69.

    I like many, many others felt the need to register just to comment on the aweful mess the BBC have made of their news website. I'm not going to go into why - plenty of people have doe that already.
    I will however suggest what you should do next.
    Read this:
    http://blogs.hbr.org/hmu/2010/04/youve-made-a-mistake-now-what.html
    A very interesting read from the Harvard Business Review.
    'Fess up and get it sorted. Please.

  • Comment number 70.

    I quite like aspects of the new design. I don't think white space is a bad thing, for example.

    However, you say "We worked with UK design luminary Neville Brody at Research Studios on establishing a new "global visual language" (GVL) to establish consistency in design and interaction across all of the BBC website."

    But, you appear to have thrown out the 'global visual language', or at least the one on your website.

    The global visual language says that all pages should have the same standard header bar, the same footer, the same grey borders to the left and right of the page, and use the Verdana typeface. Indeed, if you look at all of the other new pages on the BBC website, they all have these features.

    The BBC News website has a different header, a slightly different footer, doesn't have the grey borders, and uses Arial rather than Verdana.

    Has the Global Visual Language changed, and will all the other pages be changing too?

  • Comment number 71.

    The reality is that most people won't really care. It's always the people who don't like something that bother to comment - I write software, so I know this! Given the millions (billions?) who use and rely on the BBC web site every day, this is very small number of people who have complained.

    Everything is still there, it's still the most impartial news site out there, and it's still free to use - unlike certain others ...

    Chill out, everyone!

  • Comment number 72.

    "And when the new space doesn't have a good reason to be filled with content, it remains blank, allowing the story to breathe."
    Oh please! The problem is you've tried to make the layouts cater for so many needs (widths) you have ended up with conflicts.
    Video widths, Related Links widths, Analysis widths, Quotes widths - the net result is alignment looks a total mess. Segregation between different information types is badly delineated and what used to be well-defined header types that clearly separated out information no longer exists.
    Using justified alignment for text could improve matters greatly. Having said that bearing in mind the level of criticism levelled at you, isnt it about time you accepted you got it wrong and try again.
    Oh and PLEASE do something about the Most Popular module. It's hideous. I know you have to remember accessibility codes and so on, but we're not idiots. Why the large numbers 1-10? I think I managed to work out that the most popular story was at the top.

  • Comment number 73.

    Redesign fail. I've tried again today - really don't like how we've gone from a great site to something that makes you want to look elsewhere.

    The previous designers had done a great job in updating the site to the point where it was a joy to use and look at, it was user friendly and made you want to explore the news - but everything was there at a glance to get an quick update of the main news topics...

    Now you have to scroll about - too much white space, retrograde looking style... 100% meh.

  • Comment number 74.

    This rubbish looks like some adolescent's blog.

    Stop wasting license payer's money and put it back!


  • Comment number 75.

    New site design, in one word (if indeed it is a word): ewwwww

    I have registered just to tell you how unhappy I am with the new site design. I considered the previous design one of the best on the web.

    I discussed this new design with workmates and nobody had a good word to say about it. What an absolute waste of money!

    Time to start a facebook group to get the old site back?

  • Comment number 76.

    I agreed that modernisation is sometimes required, The BBC network is seen as quality content and i hink the "old fashion" look give that feel. the updated page to me seem a bit of a muddle and un-ordered orqured to find what you might be looking for and I find it less interesting to use and find my self looking for other sites to view but that my opinion.

  • Comment number 77.

    Google top place gets twice as many hits as the second place. Google second page hardly features at all. Does this tell you anything? People don't like scrolling. So why arrogantly assume that "With an incentive, users will scroll. If that proves a positive interaction, it's something that could become habitual." It isn't a positive interaction (whatever that may mean). There is excess vertical white space.

    You may think the new site is the bees knees. (Almost) every comment on this and the other blog about the new site has been negative. Bad news travels faster and further than good news and licence-payers are understandably angry. Cutting the licence will be an option and if this stops you fiddling around with a functioning website, good.

    Solution: If you must redo the site, enable various formats of the same content by different configurable style sheets, including font. And the Accessibility options should be at the top. That's what style sheets are all about. Or is that too Web 2.0 for you?

    And PLEASE reduce the top banner to the same width as the rest of the site. It makes a mess of mobile viewing.



  • Comment number 78.

    The posts numbered 61 and 41 above appear to nail the prime design parameter. I`ve seen elsewhere within the huge volume of responses that the big mug-shot of Andrew Marr was replacing a prime ad-slot on international versions. I suspect the Beeb would like its remaining readers to develop a scrolling habit then they might be able to sell a few more ads `below the fold`. The risible `breathing space` comment is management-speak for `the longer the page, the longer the ad-bar`
    Shabby conduct.

  • Comment number 79.

    "Please bear in mind, though, that what you see today is just the first step." I'm glad -- it'll be easier for you to go back to square one and think again.

    Has anyone actually viewed this mess in Google Chrome, with larger fonts? Or have your team invented y-axis ligatures?

  • Comment number 80.

    Far too much white space. Looks insubstantial.


    Font used in articles body far too thin, Helvetica is a wrong choice. Verdana was much better.


    Not enough content or details in body of articles.

  • Comment number 81.

    This is a very loose design, especially the front page. It has far too much air in it, and is abandoning all the lessons learned by the print industry in the last 200 years!

    The best designed websites on the web follow the seriously good designs of the print industry. This has only become possible with fast servers and fast connections plus the advancements in browser technology.

    It seems a shame that the BBC seems to have thrown all that in the waste bin and just come up with a design that is hard to follow, does not adapt to changing needs through out the day and detracts from the news, which is the most important thing on the page - not the design.

    I have tried to get used to it, but to be honest, it is frustrating and illogical. A good design should be intuitive and draw me in instantly, not leave me floundering around trying to work out what is going on.

  • Comment number 82.

    The BBC website design has always been a model of usability and readability. The increased white space and the horizontal links bar maintain that tradition of user-friendly design. I am less impressed by the increased page width. This, ironically, seems to create the appearance of a cluttered page. But maybe it's a matter of adjusting to changes to something that has become so familiar.
    Your efforts to lead the way in usability and readability are to be applauded.

  • Comment number 83.

    This is a disaster. I no longer read news stories from the site. It looks like it is being rendered by digital teletext.

  • Comment number 84.

  • Comment number 85.

    Most of us are very angry about the changes. Many of us took part on online surveys as part of the redesign, and now feel that our input was not taken on-board. As a result a Facebook campaign has begun. Join the disgruntled here:
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-new-BBC-News-web-page-sucks/135069706525982?v=wall
    None of us doubt that the content of the web site will remain the best in the world, but the styling is all wrong. The site now looks like a cross between Sky News and Yahoo. What we like about the previous design was it clean high density news structure, with the importance of stories having a direct relationship with size of the article on the page. I've already seen instances with Big Brother stories having larger than major news stories. Right now there's a stroy about Santa coming early to Oxford street being much larger than the story about a 40% increase in the Afghan aid budget.

  • Comment number 86.

    BAD design, amateurish to say. Bad layout, bad font size......
    The BBC should listen to the millions of licence holder and remenber who pays the bill. PUT the old layout back with minor changes to accomodate new technologies.

  • Comment number 87.

    So, well over 2000 negative comments and you still haven't changed. I see you did your testing on a highly representative survey population of 14. That might be acceptable for an overall population of, say, 20, but for the millions who use this site, any statistician worth his salt would confirm that 14 wouldn't even register as a speck. It is highly unscientific to base your findings on such a small sample.

    You have had no end of adverse comments from professional web designers. And yet you still won't take heed.

    I cannot believe the arrogance shown by the BBC over this.

    Like many others, I am now going elsewhere for my news. You have my email address. Contact me when you have changed the site back to the previous design.

  • Comment number 88.

    I recently posted in the last blog you made about this change. The end result of which is that I've now changed my homepage away from the BBC news site and gone with Sky news. I came back here today to see if you had made any changes to help your loyal viewers regain their want to come back as a large amount have moved, but I can see that you aren't going to.

    So, just coming here to say thanks for your trusted news over the last 10 years that I've had your site as homepage on my PCs and laptops, and to say cheerio. I will still check on the BBC news page now and again to see if it's changed, but I'll probably be so used to the other site that I won't come back.

  • Comment number 89.

    PS: I use Internet explorer, and even though I put proper spacing after my fullstops it removes them - way to go!

  • Comment number 90.

    ChumboWani,
    Are you really saying you've changed what news service you use based solely on style? The content has remained exactly the same it just looks a bit different. If you are so shallow that you only care what things look like rather than their content, then you might as well change your homepage to a picture of a cat.

    PS The reason that you can only see one space after your fullstops is that the html specification states "user agents should collapse input white space sequences when producing output inter-word space".

  • Comment number 91.

    I have no strong views on the re-design - this year's hated newspaper re-design is next year's much-loved 'classic' look - except...

    That dark blue localisation box? What an eyesore that is, stuck right in the middle of the now-longer page. I dislike scrolling (who doesn't?) and often miss stuff below this box as I simply can't be bothered to scroll past the over-large obstacle. Why dark blue? Why there? I have never used this localisation feature (by entering my location) as I regularly, for personal reasons, look at news from NI and Scotland - I have no preference that way.

    The "most read" etc lists are double-spaced and take up far too much space - what was so wrong with single-spacing? Who needs the huge numbers?

    The reasons for introducing the new clear look, with square corners and so on (a good aim) seem to be reasons for re-designing, yet again, the Home page - is this next in the 'job creation' list?

    As so many have said, far too much white space. Here in Edinburgh, there is a newspaper with declining circulation called The Scotsman. For years, the adverts, headlines and pictures have got bigger and bigger to fill space that no-one there seems to know how to fill. I am sure this is not the reason why the BBC News pages have so much space now...

  • Comment number 92.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 93.

  • Comment number 94.

    This re-design is an absolute shambles.

    Please BBC bosses, be brave enough to recognise a mistake and go back to the old format - at least it was readable!

  • Comment number 95.

    Redesign sucks. Page used to fizz with info, links and thumbnails all compactly but readably contained and now looks dumb, glaring white with big print like a children's book. Using your site used to be good use of time; not now.

    The vote seems strongly against. Go back?

  • Comment number 96.

    I have used the BBC news site as a home page as long as I have used the Web on the Internet. Made for a great home page as I would quickly decide to read or move on.
    My problem with the new design is not that it is bad, or the content isn't good, but its not really a good home page anymore.
    The new website does not display at a glance what the old web site did, so its not a good home page. I think your stats are going to reflect this as every time I opened my Web browser you got a hit on your website.
    This does not mean I am going to right off your new site, far from it. Its just I don't think I want it as my home page anymore.

  • Comment number 97.

    Has anyone here ever listened to the BBC radio programme called Feedback? If you had you would know that the BBC doesn't do listening to the opinions of viewers, listeners or readers. Instead it patronisingly tells us that they are trying to please a wide diversity of audiences, some will like what they have done, some won't, and they know they've got things pretty much right. So there. It won't be any different with this redesign. You're talking to a brick wall here.

    Even so, I have to add that the typography hierarchies are all up the spout, with headings - especially headings of boxes on the right - far too big, competing with the main stories and overshadowing the logo and the navigation. There is a horrible clash at the top of every single page which makes me want to leave, right away.

  • Comment number 98.

    I don't consider this redesign an improvement in any way. I probably agree with many other comments but, due to the nasty, illegible font (too thin, letters and words far too spread out) I really can't be bothered to read through them. This applies to every part of your site, which I used to read avidly but will now, sadly, learn to live without. I'll pop back every so often to see if you've come to your senses, but if in the meantime I find something I can actually read comfortably, you'll have lost me for good. Very sad, because I'm generally a big fan of the BBC.

  • Comment number 99.

    This design is a bumbling, amaturish shambles. The design flaws are as tiresome as they are pervasive, but one that I've not seen mentioned before is the truncation of headlines in the "Most Popular" box.

    At one point, it contained an intriguing entry labelled "The battle for Nelson Mandela's leg" which turned out to be a link to a far-less interesting story about the some minor family feud concerning Mandela's legacy.

    Was this ever beta-tested? One imagines not.

    - robin.

  • Comment number 100.

    Why do you not mention cost in your article? I would think people would be interested how much the redesign cost.

 

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