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CBBC Newsround site relaunched

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Phil Buckley Phil Buckley | 17:00 UK time, Wednesday, 29 June 2011

When I was lucky enough to get the job of Product Manager for CBBC and CBeebies in June last year, the first thing I did was spend a number of warm summer evenings indoors looking at statistics. What could be the most popular CBBC website? The marvellous wildlife show Deadly 60? The award-winning drama Tracy Beaker? The legendary Blue Peter?

To my amazement, it was none of these: it was the children's news service Newsround. I say amazed as I knew that the site had not been touched for a number of years and was still in an older BBC templating system that was, unlike the rest of CBBC, left aligned and small in size.

 old newsround site

So, I did more research by looking into our search logs - and of all the brands we had, Newsround was the most searched for.

Children were also searching for news stories and people directly - certainly celebrity searches such as 'alicia keys' were in there, but also things in the news that children wanted to understand: in June 2010, there were more searches for 'oil spill', and 'animal testing' than for 'justin bieber'.

Recently Ralph Fiennes (who plays Voldemort in the Harry Potter films) and Nicola Roberts were among our top searches, but 'earthquakes' and 'waves' performed strongly too. Over this period we have also helped children on topics such as 'unicef' 'ice melting', 'refugees', and even 'what to do if you are struck by lightning'.

The headline I took from this - apart from The Kids Are All Right - was that Newsround was performing a huge role in helping children understand the world and that this was highly valued - both for their homework and for their general interest.

So I am delighted to say that the neck muscles of the children of Britain will no longer be cramped by turning to one side: today we are relaunching the Newsround website, and it is now the same width as the rest of the CBBC site and other BBC sites, in another move towards making BBC Online feel like a more cohesive whole.

Screenshot of new CBBC newsround website

In the relaunch the key has not been to extend the functionality greatly but instead to improve what was already a valued service.

Articles will still come with pictures, but the pictures are bigger, of higher quality. The articles are easier to read and have interactions to engage children as they go down the page.

We have also added some fantastic galleries to show off this photographic content more. Finally we have also cleaned up the architecture greatly: in our user testing it turned out that some news categories meant little to children so we have simplified our indexing to News, Sport, Entertainment, and Animals. My friend and colleague Daniel Clarke talks about the editorial drivers to refreshing Newsround here.

However, we have made a big effort to integrate Newsround more with the rest of the CBBC website. The top navigation now contains a pretty complete picture of what CBBC offers: shows, games, watch [clips and episodes], music, things to do, and news. This I hope gives a good picture of what the CBBC product is: a hub for primary school children whether it is time to play, to laugh, to be creative, or to learn about what is happening in the world.

Earlier this year I blogged about the "(Hopefully) no more tears" approach which we used to release the rest of the website. It has been much harder to step out changes with Newsround: the technology was too old and the designs too different. We have introduced children to parts of this by bringing Newsround more to the fore on the CBBC homepage, and adding News to our top navigation in advance of the relaunch; but my hope is that the site refresh is so obviously an improvement that children will come with us on this.

Now: I come on here, set the blog editor some formatting problems and crack some jokes. The actual work is done by a very talented team who deserve all the credit, and I would like to express my thanks to them. As with the rest of the CBBC site, I hope this is a good example of highly skilled people from editorial, technical, and design backgrounds, working together to create a product that really delivers what our audiences need.

Phil Buckley is Product Manager for the BBC Children's portfolio, BBC Future Media

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Hi Phil
    New website looks great! Not sure if you're aware, but a couple of years back, I did some research with three other academic colleagues, and two of your former collagues at the BBC, Roy Milani (former NR editor) and Louise Wass (Jam). What you found about the left alignment issue was something children we spoke to up and down the country complained about/queried. If including a pdf of the report here, as I suspect research such as ours (co-funded by the BBC and the Arts and Humanities Research Council) are shelved somewhere deep in the basements of the BBC. Anyway, you might find other interesting points in the report, from the children we spoke to (over 200 in Cardiff, Coleraine, Glasgow and Bournemouth) during 2077-09. If you have any questions, I can be contacted on [Personal details removed by Moderator]

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/knowledgeexchange/cardifftwo.pdf

  • Comment number 2.

    Hi Cindy -

    Thank you very much for forwarding me that report - I was unaware of it so have printed it off now to read. If I have any questions I'll see if I can persuade the moderator to give me your details! Very best wishes -


    Phil

  • Comment number 3.

    You're most welcome and thanks for tracking me down on email at Cardiff University. Please do circulate the report to anyone you think might benefit from it. We also have a follow up study on what teenagers want in terms of a news service, which we worked on with Ian Prince at the BBC (former Newsround Editor). If you would like information about our findings, or, indeed, if you have any colleagues who might me interested, please do get in touch.

    Cindy

  • Comment number 4.

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

  • Comment number 5.

    I like the new design - much more attractive and inviting without being unnecessarily noisy

  • Comment number 6.

    Hi Phil,

    Is there any plans to bring back a time update on the news stories. Like on the old site, when it was last updated or added?

  • Comment number 7.

    how proud it must make one working for cbeebies imagine how your children(if u have any) would feel knowing dad or mum was actually promoting and working with there fav channel.

  • Comment number 8.

    Hi all -

    Thanks very much for taking the time to comment.

    Karen - thanks for your kind words!

    JB - hello again, I think you commented on my last blog? Yes - it turned out that the 'last updated' wasn't _massively_ well understood by children in our focus groups, so we have simplified it to "this page was made on" at the top of articles. We are monitoring how children feel about it though I think you are actually the first to mention it. Do you/ children you know miss this functionality?

    Freindorfow - yes, I am lucky enough to have children although to be honest, I think I get more out of it than they do: they vaguely understand that their dad does something to do with CBBC and CBeebies but they don't think it's that cool; meantime I get loads of free user testing. But it certainly gets me cred in the playground with parents; and I am very proud to work here yes. It's a brilliant job and a real privilege to work with such fantastic content, which hopefully makes a positive difference to children's lives.

    Best wishes all -


    P

  • Comment number 9.

    GRET TO READ THE BLOG. YR EDITORS DID A GREAT JOB TO ADDRESS THE CHILDREN AND THEIR NEW CREATIVE EXPANSION IN THEIR THOUGHT LINES. CHILDREN MIND IS SO FLEXIBLE AND VIRGIN THAT WILL VERY CREATIVELY WORK THRO ADVANCE MAN WHEN THEY ALL BECOME ADULTS. KUDOS EDITORS!

  • Comment number 10.

    I understand why it was taken away, and the new "This page was made on" is much simpler for the Newsround audience to understand. I always thought the time update was a nice extra to see how long ago the news was added/updated.

    A question - If a page was made on a Monday, then updated with new information on a Tuesday. Would the header still read "This page was made on Monday" or would it be changed?

  • Comment number 11.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 12.

    Phil Buckley's team tells me that when fresh information is added to a story then yes, the datestamp changes.

  • Comment number 13.

    Hi again Phil
    I'm not sure how well the 'big list of all of our stuff' works. The blank green boxes with simply a letter gives no information about what might be included. I thought for a moment in trawling around the site that you'd gotten rid of the materials for teachers, but eventully found it on the 'big' list. If I wasn't looking for it specifically, I'm not sure I'd find it. Isn't there something you can do somewhere on the website (preferably on the front page) to indicate that such materials exist? As it is, on the old website, this information was more prominent, and nevertheless many teachers that I spoke to during our research did not know of its existence. Seems like a waste, as there's such good material there!

  • Comment number 14.

    where are the message/chat boards???

  • Comment number 15.

    I've found the four (only four - why so few???) message boards only after navigating from the CBBC top bar, clicking on chat, then clicking on NR message boards. Why so buried? How might this affect interactivity on the website? Not sure many children will be able to find them.

  • Comment number 16.

    sorry to keep posting, but what happened to the Press Pack information/instructions for would be Press Packers? When I click on this link (which is pretty buried) I get the 'Want to contact us?' page. Apologies for my obsessive pickiness on this!

  • Comment number 17.

    @cindylu1959

    Just to let you know, Phil Buckley is on leave at the moment. (In fact, he is cycling from Land's End to John O'Groats for charity.) So it will be a while before he can reply.

  • Comment number 18.

    Hi team - so sorry for the slow response here, as Ian said, I was hauling myself up the country. It is genuinely about the bike. Anyway -

    JB - I hope Ian has answered your question sufficiently?

    Cindy - hello again, thanks for your very valuable feedback. In order:

    > the big list of all our stuff - yes, I agree, it's not working very well. We have added this to our backlog though to manage your expectations we do have a fair few things above it, including:

    > Re: message boards, yes, we are actively working on this now. In general I feel that the chat boards are not massively compelling as they are so far from the content being discussed - so we are trying to get the users' comments on the same page as articles to give them extra focus and relevance. For now we do link to message boards on the left hand side of stories where relevant, such as at http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/14560850.

    > Press pack - There is information on the FAQ page at http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/13927399 and the team tell me "we always want to hear from would-be Press Packers, and there's details on that page on how to contact us." However, looking at it, I agree that we could possibly make the signposts on this journey clearer so I will ask the team to have a look at it.

    Best wishes and thanks again for your interest all -


    Phil

 

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