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H2G2 Refresh: design and technical challenges

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Paul Goodenough | 17:23 UK time, Thursday, 20 January 2011

Screenshot of the new H2G2 homepage

The new redesigned H2G2 site

Editor's note: this week the refreshed version of the BBC's long running community site H2G2 was launched. You can make general comments about the new site here, and report bugs here.

"Take 1 digital web agency,

2 internal BBC departments,

1,000,000 unique users,

256605 entries

and 12 years of love and enjoyment...

Develop.... but very carefully!"

When we were awarded the H2G2 redevelopment work from BBC, some of the team asked what it "was". Like most things which stem from likening one thing to another, it was fuelled by mankind's predisposition for making things easy to understand.

I've heard it called Wittypedia, which is as close to a true label as one could come.

It's effervescent, brilliant, astounding and a wonderful testament to the beauty that can be found in language and user generated content. Unlike other 'similar' sites, it's a conversation, not a lecture. And in that distinction lays everything.

We inherited H2G2 from its previous iteration, a UGC web 2.0 project inspired by Douglas Adams back in the 1980s. Unfortunately, since that date, no one had really revisited the site's framework and branding - a terrible shame when you consider the love and esteem the fiercely loyal community and greater world hold it in.

Amusingly, the site was so closely akin to Douglas Adam's and the Hitchhikers ethos that no one person, including the community, seemed to know all of the various granular functionality offered within its frame - something that would continually bite us throughout the next few months. H2G2 is as unique, funny and quirky as the man himself and our UT work only uncovered about 80% of functionality as we would find out later...

User Centric Design

We spent many long hours reviewing both the existing site's legacy content and functionality. This presented us with a number of key challenges throughout the design stage of the project. The biggest and hardest of which was the love and personality of the brand. We knew that the community were so impassioned when it came to the website that we simply had to involve them at every stage of the design process.

Don't panic!

 

The knowledge of the existing community with their fantastic passion for the brand, and our cold, logical IA work to detangle the site and increase accessibility to new users yielded surprisingly positive results. Everyone's fear that change could upset the community turned out to be unfounded - in my opinion, this was 100% down to the efforts of Sam, Chris and Nick to involve the community so integrally from beginning to end. This process was a credit to both the community, and the passion of the H2G2 staff.


I personally worked very closely with Sam and Chris, thrashing out ideas for how best to represent the brand. We thrashed out many iterations of the design, ranging from a dusty old antique room full of iconography such as teacups, cocktails, plotting mice and flying dolphins mounted on the wall; to a sea / sky based images with inspired flotsam and jetsam bobbing along the curiously angled sea. All crazy and fun, but not quite right when it came to attracting a new audience - which is key to the site's continued existence.

So, we instead opted for broad strokes of inalienably subtle iconography such as the dolphins leaving earth, and a few subtle nuances lost on all but the most observant of viewers. Whereas on previous projects, we'd found that the BBC GEL offered significant challenges to users and editorial teams who wanted a less formulaic handling of their brand, on H2G2, GEL provided us with a perfect design pattern partner. and despite a few challenges; the site benefited greatly from the uniformity this brought.

The look and feel / UI work tested amazingly well within the community, with sporadic conversations starting up on the site about how pleased they were with what they had seen. We were extremely proud when Sean, one of the original creators of H2G2 wrote on a discussion that he believed

"the whole page - from graduated fade at the top to cloud-covered earth at the bottom - simply oozes graphical class".

Technical and Information Architecture

A key challenge that returned continually was the existing sites ability to allow the community to exhibit their own personality over their presence via use of GuideML, the language that runs the UGC content from the community. GuideML allowed users to put free form (and often malformed) HTML-esque content. This caused incredible problems for us as we could never entirely tell what that content might be. To combat this, Ben Poole, who deserves significant credit, worked tirelessly very closely with the DNA team to create conditional logic to strip out and replace whatever malformations were possible to bring the code in-line with BBC standards and guidelines.

Problems, problems, problems

Unfortunately, a combination of legacy content and our necessity to wait for the DNA internal team's delivery of systems and APIs, meant that the project went on much longer than expected - a key disappointment for us was missing the 10/10/10 (binary code for 42 for us geeks out there) as a launch date or community celebration.

The reasons for this were many, the APIs brought with them a swathe of necessary research, testing and development. This, combined with the ever shifting sands of requirements from both the editorial team and the community at large, meant that the PAL application was a mammoth task that bore yet more tasks in turn. The DNA team continually maintained close links and a great work practice with Ben allowing them to keep up with the ever ballooning brief.

Beta late than never

The decision was taken to present the development of the site to the wider community as a Beta launch. This served many purposes. Firstly, it allowed us to get some amazing in-depth user testing, from testers who often knew features of the site that no one else was aware of; and secondly, it gave us the opportunity to engage in a conversation with them - allowing them to comment, suggest and complain.

The beta launch went better than we could have hoped, with some amazing feedback, both positive and constructive criticism - which allowed us to make the project greater than the sum of its BBC / Aerian Studios parts. However, as you can imagine, it did put us back yet further!

So...

It's hard to talk at length about how much difficulty we had integrating with the API's provided because so much of the problem was hidden in the details. It's also hard to explain to an outsider how hard Sam and Chris (and Ben Poole from our end) worked in making sure the project was delivered with the quality it deserved - I hope that you see for yourself and it's apparent to all.

In conclusion.

For me at least, H2G2 was like a night out: it went on a little too long, it was sticky and uncomfortable in places and your head is still spinning - but you wouldn't change it for the world.

So you'll have to excuse me, I'm off to concoct another Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster to celebrate the new look of an old friend.

Cheers - to H2G2!

Paul Goodenough is Managing Director of Aerian Studios - a mostly harmless web agency

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Tip top work guys!

  • Comment number 2.

    I agree - we love the new design, I do hope that trying up date the site will help us attract more users.

  • Comment number 3.

    We've got bugs, but we have faith they'lll be ironed out. After all this time it's finally happened... I almost can't believe it! *bounces*

  • Comment number 4.

    It's good to glimpse another facet of the process.
    Mind you, it's going to take a while for us (well, me) to come to terms with this new lover.
    Thank you, all of you, for your efforts - and your sensitivity.

  • Comment number 5.

    Having cloned the DNA operating system for wider application across their Web activities it is hard to believe that the BBC are leaving H2G2 unfettered to go it's own way, allbeit with a fresh outlook. It is something of a disappointment that the full potential of the site wasn't recognised in those early years of the takeover before Twitter, Facebook and Blogging came to the fore.

  • Comment number 6.

    Hi Paul,

    Lovely to see an indepth description of the redesign process, thanks for that :-) I also love that you obviously get h2g2 and have described it wonderfully. I'm one of the ones who generally likes the new look and sees the redesign as a great opportunity to revamp the site and community as whole.

    It's also useful to see a description of some of the difficulties from the tech and design side.

    I am concerned however about the losses of functionality for the community. They're barely mentioned in your post, and despite a number of the issues being raised in the community beta testing, they've still not been addressed. I've raised this with Sam and Chris onsite.

    As a long term h2g2 researcher who's put alot of passion and energy into the community I've seen the things that have undermined the community in the past and loss of user functionality is one of the significant ones. I think there is a real risk here of having a lovely looking site that is difficult to use. New users may be ok because they don't know the old site, but it's the existing researchers that will keep the site alive. If it becomes too difficult to use the new site, how many will just give up? (there's been alot of debate about why user numbers have dropped in recent years).

    thanks,
    kea.

  • Comment number 7.

    I should add that part of the current problem is that we (the h2g2 researchers) don't know which losses are intentional and which are bugs.

  • Comment number 8.

    For anyone involved in the redesign here's the current community response (and it's not good):

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/alabaster/F77636?thread=8010317&skip=60&show=200#p105459457

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/alabaster/F19585?thread=8013198&show=200&skip=0

    (you'll notice that I've been able to link to a specific post, and let you see all the subsequent posts on one page. That's because I'm using the old site, the new one doesn't let us do that).

  • Comment number 9.

    It is interesting to not some of the conversation threads are full width, others more akin to the bogroll inflicted on other BBC messageboards. I do however note there are no large glaring white gutters.

    It does seem odd all this redesign going on, initially two reasons were given by the BBC

    1) it had to be barlesque or things would break
    2) everything would be standardised across boards and they would be more robust and easier to maintain

    It would seem ( on most BBC improved messageboards ) there were a lot of bugs even after redesigning. The standardisation seemed to fly out of the windows, other than the BBC's instance on retaining features most users objected to, and removing features we liked.

    Maybe the BBC learnt something and used a beta version, whereas on other message boards the BBC betas were unleashed as live Releases with the BBC slowly endeavouring to make running repairs later.
    (eg see "Changes to BBC Message Boards: Updates and fixes" - http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2010/10/changes_to_bbc_message_boards_1.html?postId=104980111#comment_104980111 )

  • Comment number 10.

    I feel utterly conned. Lots of people are really upset about the lack of functionality. I had felt stupidly optimistic about the concept of the overhaul. But its a joke.

    The BBC should be ashamed. I may refuse to pay a percentage of my Licence Fee next year as h2g2 is a huge part of what I enjoy about the BBC.

  • Comment number 11.

    On a related note, see an animated infographic about wikipedia here: http://www.thestateofwikipedia.com/

  • Comment number 12.

    The small h2g2 was built on the base of researcher feedback, a small team involved in all aspects of the site, beavering away with a common objective, it was all done 'on site'. Here we have a situation where outsiders and developers think they know better than the users. A new breed of capital H2G2 going where no man has gone before and making a cockup of it.
    It seems doubtful that the new and the old will ever live together, h2g2 grew bottom up, H2G2 is trying to grow top down. If those from the BBC who now operate on Twitter and Facebook and Blogg here had presented themselves with the same vigor on h2g2 then very slowly things would have evolved and the nature and character of the site would have adapted to the change. The trouble is that the BBC let h2g2 lay dormant for 10 years, tried to spread its modus operandi into their other community sites instead of integrating the whole of its internet communities under one banner.
    Radio is radio, Television is television and the Internet is something else. :-)

  • Comment number 13.

    Many thanks for the new site and a great blog entry :)
    Although not entirely running smoothly, I feel H2G2 has moved forward.
    Hopefully, the community can move that way as well :D

  • Comment number 14.

    Thanks for all your comments.

    I am the executive in charge of H2G2 so I'll just respond to a couple of them.

    kea - our aim in the refresh was to give people who aren't members of the H2G2 community a better experience by giving the site a fresh, new look which was easier to navigate while at the same time keeping all the significant functionality that the community uses. We do have bugs so please do keep reporting them (via the link at the top of the blog post), and also feedback any functionality you think has been lost. I've asked the H2G2 editors to put together a list of bugs next week so we can review them.

    Effers and Ancient Brit - I'm sorry you don't like the new site, but the H2G2 editors lead the project and were very determined to protect the community's interests. Also two members of the community were involved in user testing the designs. To call them (and the developers from both the DNA team and Aerian) "outsiders" is unfair when they all put a great deal of hard work into the project.

    Thanks

  • Comment number 15.

    Nick,
    it's good to have some response from the 'powers that be'.

    Firstly, the 'user testing' seems to have been based on impressions of the front end only - not an actual play around in the sandbox and find out how it works.

    Secondly, the beta too had limited functionality meaning a lot of the researchers don't/didn't know what needed fixing and what was meant to be that way. If something is greyed out you don't know what it will do.

    This lack of clarity is also affecting the new launch. Now, I agree it would be a rare beast indeed for there to be no bugs or issues on a new product especially one that had users experiencing it through so many different skins, all of which had slightly different features - however there seems to be a problem in the underlying usability of the new HooToo. Whether this is by design or mistake, I don't know, but when 'simple' functions like:

    *being able to read the most recent unread post on a conversation rather than having to go to the alpha or omega posts in a thread
    *emoticons/smileys
    *punctuation marks (without turning good english into algebra-esque code)

    are missing, it suggests something has gone wrong with the redesign - these are fairly fundamental stuff for message boards etc.

    I was initally apprehensive when the new barlesque was announced, but thought I ought to give it a chance. I like the new design, even if it does suffer from a bit of wasted space here and there. I look forward to it working in the future.

    Until then I will be watching with interest, but using the old alabaster til barlesque is stable and we know what is bug and what is design.

  • Comment number 16.

    OK Nick thanks for the acknowledgement.
    With the situation that the new site is in it is difficult to decide whether it will be successful or not. There are certainly a few bugs and aspects of the functionality that are dubious. Time will tell. It was the basic features and simplicity of the original DNA driven site that attracted me to h2g2 in 2002 as a silver surfer. My space URL is http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/brunel/U197657 created before Blogging, Facebook and Twitter came to the web. The site has an originality, functionality and atmosphere that makes it unique. The message boards had to be dragged kicking and screaming over to the DNA world but they were only given limited facilities. The BBC community site that has come out best as a result of the DNA treatment is in my opinion Ouch ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/ouch/ )
    Without doubt h2g2 researchers where looking for improved and enhanced features after being restricted for some 9 years. It has always been a hobby horse of mine that the BBC should unite their internet community sites under one banner. I thought when the DNA Hub ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/hub/home ) came on the scene that the BBC were moving in that direction but it was not to be.
    The researchers were looking forward to enhanced DNA functionality not have it served to them in an abbreviated form. I could go on but it has all been said before.
    My hope is that researchers will not be disappointed and that, come what may, they will always have access to the old site as it exists today even if it accessible as read only.

  • Comment number 17.

    Well done Paul, Sam and Chris for getting h2g2 to this stage. The site looks great - especially the Approved Entry page - and I'm sure it will feel great when those teething troubles are sorted. I'm confident you'll turn those around very soon.

  • Comment number 18.

    Thank you for the informative blog. As a user, it is difficult to understand where the problems were, but I see now there were a lot of them. I hope that we can all work together on solving the problems that are currently there. I love the new look of the Front page, but I'm not too thrilled with the very narrow pages on entries. A lot of the existing graphics don't work there, they go over the borders and make everything look unwieldy. I'm optimistic that we'll all learn how to work with the guide ml that is left. Is it planned to have a 'read only' version of the current h2g2? I ask because a lot of the entries don't display correctly in the new H2G2, and it is impossible to alter them all.

  • Comment number 19.

    As a British Licence Fee payer I'm still appalled by the utter joke that is the new 'h2g2' It's such a precious thing...and I know very important to older people, and people with disabilities etc.

    Why the hell did the 'Eds' post on friday that it was something to be excited about, and was ready?

    I won't let the BBC conn me again that's for sure.

  • Comment number 20.

    Thanks Nick :-)

    It's very good to hear again that the intention is to keep the functionality of the old site.

    What it's looking increasingly like is that you've done some testing on the visuals, and then a limited, read-only beta test, but there's been no proper full test of the functionality. Wouldn't it be better to treat the next week or so as a full test, asking people to use the site for testing and reporting only, but for all other h2 activity to use the old site?

    (the visual testing came back reasonable positive, the beta testing showed a number of issues that haven't been resolved yet!).

    Honestly I think if the Eds can front up on Monday and acknowledge that the site isn't working and isn't ready for using, the community will get behind the project and help sort it out. Please use us as a resource! As you know, we know the site very well and what makes it a good place to be, and there is still a lot of good will towards upgrading the site and moving forward.

  • Comment number 21.

    i honestly don't know what to say here
    i believe in constructive criticism and cheerful support and team work
    i want to understand what has happened here
    but its difficult

    left to my own imagination
    the only thing that gives most everyone the benefit of the doubt
    is to pass the buck upward

    so this total fiasco i am willing to believe is the result of the british broadcasting corporation trying to save a buck on what it perceives as a backwater has-been social site with a charming library... populated by scarcely 2 or 300 folks most of whom are over the hill or almost under it...

    it doesnt have any ads

    and its not attracting folks the way face book is


    i just want to know
    and i think everyone would like to know

    is there a way to keep hootoo the way it was
    and let us make guide entries
    and socialize
    in our quiet little backwoods way

    is it really too expensive to run the way it is right now?

  • Comment number 22.

    It's a done deal fkf, and there's been good explanations about why (whether we agree with them or not). We do have some choices about where we go from there though.

  • Comment number 23.

    I'll just add my voice to the 'wish it worked but it doesn't and it seems like more than just bugs' chorus.

    This launch has been a huge disappointment. I'm feeling very depressed about the future of Mr. Adams' experiment.

  • Comment number 24.

    Hi everyone - please keep reporting bugs and any functionality you feel may been lost (via the links at the top of the blog post). I've been using the new site sucessfully. Smileys not working on the new site is clearly a bug that needs to be fixed.

    Thanks

  • Comment number 25.

    Glad to see you up and running this Sunday morning Nick
    For the record.
    If people ask me what I get out of h2g2 I tell them to image a site where Blogging and Twittering are combined, add a bit of Facebook and Wickipedia and there you have it. The point is I've been enjoying the environment and functionality of h2g2 for almost 10 years. H2g2 is my virtual world and I have been wandering and wondering around it since I first experienced the Internet. If an 83 year old silver surfer and computer novice can use it, it doesnt really need fixing. All it needs is an easy way to handle pictures and a better introduction to the outside world, but advertising is not a BBC strong point, although it is pushing facebook an Twitter. Having said that it is my honest opinion that h2g2 researchers don't want to be invaded by renegades.
    PS - There are researchers who can pluck and paste pictures to their space ( blog to the uninitiated) . Take a look here at Icy North's adaptation. http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/brunel/U225620

  • Comment number 26.

    we've had a few notes of encouragement from the PTB, including mentions of specific things they're trying to fix, but, for me, the elephant in the room is this the self-refreshing conversation list with functioning links to first unread posts.

    No body in power has given us any hint of what's going on with this extremely important functionality of the old site, so far missing from the new site.


    Even just a yay or nay would be nice.

  • Comment number 27.

    @Nick Reynolds, re: "I've been using the new site sucessfully."

    What have you been using it for? Have you tried to engage in a rapid conversation with someone? Are you maintaining a Journal? Creating a new article? Trying to *hide* an article while you were preparing it for release in "The Post"? Were you updating your Personal Space? Did you try to use your Personal Space to follow and reply to Message Board conversations? Did you look to see who else was online, or try to get a self-refreshing pop-up of the list of conversations you are subscribed to that tracks how many replies since you last read them?

    All of these are really common activities that some of us use on a daily basis; all are things that either don't work in the "improved" H2G2, or have significantly less functionality than they used to.

    Add to the the loss of our "skins" and the ability to have "proper" long names with accurate punctuation and you'll see why many of the long-term users are less than impressed.

  • Comment number 28.

    I agree Peet. Nick, it actually makes it worse for you to post that the site is working fine for you when so many of us are having a lot of difficulty with the site. It makes me wonder why you're not getting multiple rejections of posts by the profanity filter despite there being no swear words in a post (this is happening to many h2g2 users in the past two days). Are you reading only?

  • Comment number 29.

    Just wanted to add to what Nick has said, and say that we appreciate the comments - positive and negative - and we endeavor to iron out the kinks on the new site. We are listening to the feedback and doing what we can to address it.

    H2G2 is a complex beast, and I can think of few community sites in which its users have such a long-held affection for it and play such an active role in its functions. We'd never want to squander that. Our intention was always to recreate as much functionality - like for like - as we could on the new site, while adding a few new features along the way. We wanted to create the best user experience for visitors to the site, new and long-standing. This meant freshening up the look and feel for the former without sacrificing the unique flavour of the site for the latter. It was always going to be a difficult balancing act but we really think, once the teething troubles have been fixed, that we will have achieved that. We just ask you to have faith in us and bear with us.

  • Comment number 30.

    kea & peet - I have been using the site to have conversations primarily and these seem to work - although I can see the problem with smileys. There are bugs, but as I've said before there's no intention here to remove significant functionality. As the Editors have said, bear with us.

    Thanks

  • Comment number 31.

    anhaga - comment 26 - here's an extract from a post from the Editors on the new site regarding the self refreshing conversation list:

    "A version of this should be functioning on the Conversation page of your Personal Space, but doesn't seem to be working on some browsers. Needless to say, it's on our list.

    We've changed the format of this because BBC sites aren't allowed to have pop-ups any more as a general rule, so this was our way of incorporating those functions while adhering to the new guidelines. But it needs work as it clearly isn't functioning properly at the moment."

    Thanks

  • Comment number 32.

    Yes, I'd seen that about the conversation list, Nick.

    but, as I mention elsewhere, even if this conversation list is self-refreshing, and even if we right-click and open it in a new window, then resize it and tuck it into a corner of our screen (what the old pop up did automatically), we'll also lose the happy ability to simply click on the '712 new posts' link and have a full sized window open bringing us right to the first unread post.

    So, even when the list is functioning properly, a whole lot of single click functionality will be lost because 'popups are allowed but discouraged' has been read as 'popups aren't allowed'.

    But, whatever. I understand that that feature is gone.

    To be honest, the only new feature in the site that I actually like is the ability to have an avatar, but that's a pretty dispensable feature.

    I find the Prussian Blue colour scheme to be uninteresting to the point of annoyance, but now I'm just being picky. I realize it's been a big bear of a job and I'm impressed that you've managed to achieve so much that people are either satisfied with or downright happy about.

    I suppose I should be happy that the new site's trashing of my PS will force me to make a long overdue renovation.

  • Comment number 33.

    As one of the "new users coming to H2G2" that you are so keen to attract, i can't say a refresh will make any difference - if fundamentally it doesn't work as well then no amount of designer tarting will make me use it.

    Secondly, as a long time user of the other BBC online offerings I am saddened that the debacle of the other recent "revamps" over at message boards and iPlayer has been repeated -without learning a single lesson from the mess that was created. It appears the H2G2 refresh has upset the established users (and the potential new ones like me) in that consultation was minimal, testing failed, and implementation was botched. (Exactly the same as MBs)

    The added insult, again, appears that the same process of bug fixing and eventual sign off of an inferior product is the most likely outcome -exactly as is happening currently on all the Message Boards.

  • Comment number 34.

    just how in blue blazes are you supposed to unsubscribe from discussions in that new set up??? I still have a link to the 'old' brunel site. I hope I'll still be able to use it for a while yet.

  • Comment number 35.

  • Comment number 36.

    Hi Gary,

    "BBC should be doing fewer things better" says Rory Keating. I'd go along with that.

  • Comment number 37.

    Yes I just caught up with the announcement of the closure of various sites including H2G2, seems people here were being kept in the dark or why improve the site. Perhaps someone may adopt the orphan for a second time.

  • Comment number 38.

    Hi all - just to try the keep the conversation manageable could people please ask questions about the future of H2G2 on this thread on the site itself and restrict themselves to comments about the refresh on the blog post.

    Go here for the announcement on site:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/h2g2/forums/A639056/conversation/view/F77636/T8018187

    Thanks

  • Comment number 39.

    As you have mentioned, there are certain bugs with the site after launch. Please do bear with the team as they are trying to fix it. We’re busy working on the smiley’s problem, and DNA are working on their side on the other bugs which we cannot control – we’re all pulling in the same direction here as Nick says.

    In terms of the design, this was a team decision made with Sam, Chris, Nick and the community and no one person worked without informed decisions from us all. The site had to be GEL compliant (the BBC’s design pattern) so our task was in bringing the site inline with that allowing the relaunch, beyond that, we also worked on the colour scheme and the look and feel.

    In regards to business decisions and the like of the site, naturally this isn’t something we have any control of.

    Thanks

  • Comment number 40.


    people here were being kept in the dark or why improve the site

    Indeed is it a case of doing the house up a bit before putting it on the market?

  • Comment number 41.

    I am afraid we have heard this all before on the last two roll-outs. GEL, templates, UXD and the FM leaders all seem to be driving this - the community certainly does not -evidenced by the fact that none of us knew the H2G2 revamp was coming, and the design (even without bugs) is far from what the majority would ask for (even if they were asked).

    I just hope the design team and management do not think that if the bugs are fixed then the job is done. As before, even when the dust does settle, more and more users (and let's be clear - this is who the changes are meant to benefit) will be alienated and leave - as we have seen with the MBs (unless someone can provide evidence to the contrary).

  • Comment number 42.

    Hi all. Just wanted to respond to a couple of the comments in that last post from OfficerDibble:
    "none of us knew the H2G2 revamp was coming"

    We, the Editors, have been talking about the redesign onsite since last April, when the development work started. There was also a Read Only Beta version of the new site, giving the community a navigable preview of the redesigned pages, that went live in November. We then gave users a chance to feed back on it to us via a dedicated feedback page, and we incorporated as many of the comments and suggestions of the community as we could.

    "I just hope the design team and management do not think that if the bugs are fixed then the job is done"

    Not at all. Our brief for the redesign was to bring the look and feel of H2G2 up to date, and attract a wider audience, without sacrificing the unique spirit of the site. We have some bugs to iron out, but we really hope we have gone some way to achieving that. Obviously, Monday's announcement changes things but we've pledged to carry on with the redesign work, and support, listen to and encourage the community as best we can, all which will help towards securing a sustainable future for the site, wherever that future lies.

  • Comment number 43.

    Hi "editors"

    You may have flagged it up and asked for feedback... but clearly it was inadequate because so many are not at all pleased with the result, so either the negative feedback was ignored or (as in the similar case of the MB revamps) you didn't ask the users.

    The wider audience issue couldn't be sorted by a tarting up of the design.

  • Comment number 44.

    OfficerDibble - your sentence doesn't make sense: "You may have.. asked for feedback" contradicts "...you didn't ask the users".

    A read only beta was shown to users and was well recieved. One or two users are still not convinced yet but in general the refresh has gone down well.

    Thanks

  • Comment number 45.

    Nick, If you read my post, I was stating that feedback may have been asked for but NOT from the users, just as during the revamp process of the MB (still not complete) the design team told us they had sought feedback - but none of us had been consulted. Yes, some staff are users, but nowhere near as insightful as non-staff.

    I don't think you use the forum and boards enough to judge the response to the new H2G2. I don't see page after page of plaudits. Everywhere I read there is dissent. For you to establish that "it has gone down well" is totally misinterpreting the truth - just as you will now say that the MB has been widely welcomed, when there are thread after thread with 100's of posts, and CSS workarounds, and bug fixes.

  • Comment number 46.

    In fact reading my post again I said EITHER the feedback that was received was ignored OR it was received (as you state) then it was ignored. I will leave you to decide which of those is the most likely answer.

  • Comment number 47.

    oh how annoying the lack of edit is! Just read post 43 :)

  • Comment number 48.

    OfficerDibble - "...feedback may have been asked for but NOT from the users..." Feedback was asked from the users in the Read Only beta which was well received by them. Users of the site were part of the user testing. Feedback has not been ignored and we are working through bug fixes at the moment.

    Thanks

  • Comment number 49.

    Nick, read the post 43.
    If feedback was received and testing by users, how come the resultant design was so poorly received and so full of bugs?

    Can you not see the wider trend here? Revamps launched without diligence and received by the majority as unwelcome and followed by a long tail of bug fixes and resignation to a sub-standard product. (as an example the Message Boards are a desolate place since revamp - unless you can tell me the numbers have gone up Nick?)

  • Comment number 50.

    OfficerDibble - message boards are off topic.

    Thanks

  • Comment number 51.

    ..and again, there ends any possibility of continuing dialogue on the matter of the H2G2 revamp failure and the likelihood of us understanding why it was launched untested with bugs that only users seem to be able to discover.

  • Comment number 52.

    Nick, How can you determine that the refresh has "gone down well " from this dialogue that you took part in:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2011/01/h2g2_refresh_design_and_techni.html

 

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