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A New BBC Radio Homepage

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Chris Kimber Chris Kimber | 10:26 UK time, Wednesday, 2 November 2011

web page screen grab

The new radio home page shows what's on now across the networks

Two months ago in September we released a Labs version of the BBC Radio homepage, which I blogged about here. Since then we have made a number of improvements based on our backlog and the very useful feedback from visitors, and today the new page has replaced the existing Radio homepage at bbc.co.uk/radio.  This is the first step on the ladder towards a new radio and music product which will launch in 2012.

We are delighted that several hundred people left feedback about the Labs site via the feedback link, the majority of which was positive. Unsurprisingly, many people commented on the “On Air Now” view rather than the radio station views you can access by clicking on a station logo at the top. Opinion was strongly in favour of having a simple single page where you can get a quick overview of the main BBC radio networks to see what is on air now.

“I like the clean layout of the site as a whole. The homepage is great, with a good overview of what's on.”

“It focuses on what's on right now, which is completely correct. Overall I think it's nicely laid out and well organised”

Slightly surprisingly for us, the orange status bar showing the progress through the current programme proved particularly popular.

“The new layout is great and the bars to show you how much of the show has passed is really helpful!”

Most people found it simple and easy to use, with easy access to listening live being singled out by many.

“Clean, simple, immediate click to live listen.”

“Love that you can see and play everything on the one page and can channel hop.”

A number of people left feedback about what they saw as a lack of local stations on the page, whether that be an English local station or the Nations stations such as Radio Scotland or Radio Wales. A few people also mentioned that the Nations language stations (e.g. Radio Cymru, in Welsh) were not more prominent, and that the site was not available in those languages.

“What about local radio? Radio Wales? Radio Scotland? And all the local radio sites?”

“integrate local radio into the home”

There were also a number of comments about the perceived lack of colour around the radio stations.

“I dislike the fact that the background is white, and there are less colours”

“there's not enough distinction between the Live panel and the audio clips”

The horizontal scrolling carousel also provoked some feedback

“The scrollable program timeline on the individual station sites seems to be arranged the wrong way around.”

screengrab

Radio 4xtra viewed via the radio homepage

We have read every single piece of feedback given, and combined with our own product backlog have made some changes with today’s release.

mobile shaped screengrab

Radio homepage on mobile

These include:

  • You can now choose to view the "site furniture" (eg the phrase "on air now", but not the programme information) in Welsh, Scottish and Irish Gaelic languages
  • We included Radio Scotland, Wales and Ulster on the main Now On Air page
  • We introduced a new radio homepage for mobile users, please try bbc.co.uk/radio on your smartphone
  • We better integrated elements of our music site so you can see the latest music collections without leaving the site
  • We have introduced a Programme Quickfind tool to allow you to quickly access your favourite programmes
  • Music track now playing information is now presented where we have it
  • We ensured that the site performs better with screen readers to help users with sight problems

This is very much a work in progress so we haven’t dealt with all the issues raised, but there are lots of changes coming over the coming months where we will address them, and more.

Please let us know what you think of the new Radio homepage by following the feedback link or commenting below.

Chris Kimber is Executive Product Manager Radio and Music, BBC Future Media

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Can you please, in very simple terms, so that I fully understand, tell me why the new radio page is not visible outside the UK? Radio is radio, and even the World Service is part of your new page.

    So sad and penny wise pound foolish.

    Back to the UK: I love the mobile site, but where are Nations stations on the mobile site? In your blogpost you tell us that they are added. But not for mobile users. Radio is especially important when you are mobile.

    Why is the page header, like the new page header from the beta homepage, deviating from the one that is in the BBC GEL documentation? Is the GEL replaced already?

  • Comment number 2.

    Quick point - some of the links on the BBC menu bar direct you to the desktop site. And wouldn't it be better if the R1/1X links go to the web app?

  • Comment number 3.

    Generally, excellent, so hate to be picky...

    If you click on the station icons at the top of the page to see the various pages, you get some awful screen redraws going on, as the "programme quickfind" box changes between one and two lines causing the rest of the page to reformat during page load.

  • Comment number 4.

    It's useless for finding out what's on next 'at a glance' on each station. You have to do to each station website to get a schedule. I don't really need telling what's on now - I can tune in for that - I want to know what's coming up.

  • Comment number 5.

    Concoran: right now you can use the top navigation bar to quickly navigate between station pages to see what's on next without having to visit each station schedule page, and we will be introducing a schedule view across all stations in the future which will give you that "at a glance" view of upcoming programmes

  • Comment number 6.

    Piet, I'll try to answer your questions in turn:

    -The UK version of the radio homepage is aimed at UK based licence fee payers, whereas the international version is aimed at non-UK audiences. Therefore the emphasis on the international version is on the World Service, the BBC's station aimed at global audiences, rather than on domestic UK focussed stations. Having said that, it's fairly easy for those audiences to navigate to our UK stations.

    -Glad you like the new mobile radio homepage! We have not include the Nations or Local Radio stations in the mobile site yet for the simple reason that we cannot currently offer live radio streaming across all mobile devices for those stations. This will change in the near future, at which point we will add them to the mobile site. We have lots of plans around mobile for radio which I'm particularly excited about - so watch this space!

    -I've asked a colleague from our User Experience team to respond to your comment about GEL.

  • Comment number 7.

    @Chris: looking forward to the GEL explanation.

    I understand that the international focus should be the WS but my question is why they do not use the new design as the local channels do, at no additional costs at all. Have you seen the international radio homepage, especially the tabs? The fourth tab has not been changed since months. Absolute shambles. Ain't worth a visit.

  • Comment number 8.

    Reading my own comment again, maybe I should make myself clearer: please use http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/stations/worldservice as international radio homepage

  • Comment number 9.

    Piet, thanks for the idea, I'll discuss that with my colleagues at the World Service.

  • Comment number 10.

    Can users create their own blogs in this web site?

  • Comment number 11.

    @cojohnle

    Thanks for the question, but no, that's not what bbc.co.uk/blogs is for.

  • Comment number 12.

    Why do you hide the audio quality bitrates? Are you embarrassed that Radio 3 is in better quality than the others?

  • Comment number 13.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00ldqrl/Tony_Blackburn_13_11_2011/

    for example..dont give the bit rate info here..yet on radio 2 you do?

  • Comment number 14.

    Under the old Homepage, when you put in your location, your local BBC Local Radio Station appeared on the list of radio stations, this doesn't happen now! or any simply links on your radio homepage.

  • Comment number 15.

    Somewhere, not necessarily your homepage, I want there to be a page that shows what's on now and what's on next, across all the national sites, and user configurable for my local station. I want to be able to bookmark it, and I want it to work on my mobile as well, so when I get home I can easily see what's on now and next, and possibly also later in the day, without clicking on all the stations. I don't care about the logos and the colours, and would rather be without them if I could just, please, have that easily available. Please. Thank you.

  • Comment number 16.

    I am still waiting for the answer to the change in header as from the GEL.

  • Comment number 17.

    Interesting comment about GEL, Piet, and I know you've been on about it for some time: it's been quite a while since I visited the GEL specs, but my impression is that they are now regarded as a bit 'old hat' by the BBC designers - GEL was essentially geared for a static style of presentation, i.e. pre-carousel and pre-dropdown menu era. I think your point still stands though - in design terms, the GEL specs were an outstanding body of work, particularly GEL2.

    Maybe the BBC homepage designers should have consulted and appreciated those specs a bit more!! (very big grin, or sad smiley, as appropriate)

    Russ

  • Comment number 18.

    As a non-touchscreen user who hates horizontal browser-frame scrolling, my biggest concern remains that the subpages, e.g. music and station homepages, are still over-measure for default 1024px screens by approximately 35px. They are wider than the BBC homepage, which (only just!) complies.

    Russ

  • Comment number 19.

    Despite my initial misgivings, I think this product area is shaping up well, and I like the 'little and often' changes being incorporated. Although this area is still in progress, I appreciate how some of the issues raised in the comments on the beta post have been addressed. Thankyou, Chris and team.

    Some comments on the latest state of play:

    On the main radio homepage:

    - I like the principle of the main menu bar (stations/categories/prog finder/music), but it needs to be a bit more 'obvious' visually. The black ground is too close in colour shade to the charcoal BBC header bar - perhaps the words 'Stations' and 'Categories' etc could be in bold? Might make them stand out a bit more. Also, the mid-grey unhighlighted words, e.g. Comedy, Drama, of the dropdown content are definitely not in good enough contrast to their black ground, and do not conform to BBC colour contrast rules. Given that the BBC header bar is black as well on some pages, I reckon you need to rethink your colour scheme for your menu bar and its dropdowns.

    - Categories should be a dropdown; the current separate picture-strewn categories page is pointless and adds no value.

    - The menu bar, especially as it appears on the subpages, is perhaps missing an obvious 'Radio home' entry??? (Yes, I know it's included on the top BBC header bar, but I'm trying to look at the product area as an integral thing.)

    - On the menu bar, the 'Programme Finder' dropdown could include (but not replace 'See all programmes') a set of icons (as per the 'Stations' dropdown) routing through to station A-Z listings. This would save time.

    - The menu bar could include a 'Schedule' dropdown, which has routes via a set of station icons to the schedules of each station. Again, this would save time. The inclusion of such a Schedule dropdown on the menu bar would I think then give you a common bit of code for all pages in this product area. (You see, I'm trying to save you money and development time. [big grin])

    On the radio homepage content:

    - Although I've commented before on this aspect, the black bars for the radio stations should I feel be clickable, as should the station roundel logos underneath them. I know you are probably wedded to the textual 'Go to Radio X' clickables, and I'm not objecting to them, but I don't see there's any harm in making additional station routes available. Btw, the current clickables should probably be "Go to Radio X homepage", to distinguish them from their non-homepage 'now on' carousel versions. (I hate those carousel pages, although their main problem is one of lack of iPlayer feed data rather than their design.)

    With a view to getting more content 'above the fold' on the homepage:

    - Why the large gap between the 'On Air Now' bar and the content beneath it?

    - There does seem to be far too much of a gap beneath the programme content descriptors and the 'Go to Radio X' clickables. Maybe you've got extra content planned for this gap? If not, I can't see a need for the gap. (This comment also applies especially to the 'now on' pages, where the gap, were it to be closed up, would then put everything useful above the fold.)

    - Having added Radios Scotland, Ulster and Wales, there is one 'slot' bottom-right crying out for a station. I suggest this fifteenth slot should be a local radio 'selector' type of thing. Local radio users tend to listen to only one local station, so a single slot here would suit.

    - The nasty now-on carousel pages are a mess of different styles; the station ident bars really do clog up precious vertical space, and more importantly, their graphics often disguise important links. Time for those old graphics to be ditched; they do nothing for the overall design and functionality.

    On the music page, the 'Want to see more' and 'Elsewhere on BBC Music' is lost at the end of the carousel. I think these should be incorporated/consolidated on the music page as initially visible (i.e. non-scrolled carousel), maybe in the navy blue 'Music' band? (And, btw, shouldn't that be "Want to hear and see more?")

    The next major step should I feel be the incorporation of the 'favourites' module (or whatever it's going to be called), but I guess that won't be given the green light until the 'to-BBC-iD or not-to-BBC-iD' argument gets settled.

    Russ

  • Comment number 20.

    Arrrggghhh! The dropdown for 'Categories' on the menu bar seems to have disappeared since my comment yesterday.

    Very strange.

    Russ

  • Comment number 21.

    Hmmm. Slight correction to my post #20. The dropdown 'Categories' on the menu bar does appear on the subpages, but is missing from the homepage. (Kinda underlines my point about consistency of menu bar code, though.)

    Also, in my post #19, I withdraw the suggestion about the need for a 'Radio Home' button - silly me, it was there all the time! (My apologies.)

    Russ

  • Comment number 22.

    It is much more difficult to find clear scheduling information for radio. The "Whats On" part of the new Homepage is appallingly awful. It takes several clicks from each channel icon to find out what is on that day. This is all part of the Homepage fiasco.

  • Comment number 23.

    Jemima: you can see what's on now across all the national stations on the Now On Air page, but you make a good point. We're working on a "radio EPG" which will do exactly what you are after, so be good to get your feedback once we have released it in 2012.

  • Comment number 24.

    Russ: you make many very good and insightful comments! I'm glad you like our "little and often" approach, it's something we're very keen on and will continue to do.

    Rather than try to answer all of them, I'm going to suggest that you have a play with the product after the next release (before Christmas I hope) which will I think address quite a few of the issues you raise. The one thing I can reveal is that we will be encouraging people to sign in to BBC id to get the best experience from the product.

  • Comment number 25.

    Chris - I'm content to await the next release for the subsequent round of detail comment, but I would like to register my concern on some fundamentals:

    • Whatever the mysteries of the research that gave rise to the current BBC general homepage, and I suspect we shall never know what they were, it seems clear the research, if only from those aspects of it repeated to us ad nauseam in another place, did not impinge on Radio. You will be aware of the strong antipathy of many users to the carousel on the BBC homepage, and its retention or promulgation on the radio pages will merely open up the Radio site to an equivalent volume and strength of ridicule and condemnation. It's now time to ditch the carousels before that happens. The case for a 'visual first' approach in respect of Radio is weak and unfounded. Radio users do not need or want large images. (With the obvious exception of bespoke video content of course.) The prime driver for Radio should be 'navigation first', hence my enthusiasm for the further development of the new menu bar.

    • I do not object to your dispensing with the pan-station featured/popular categories as currently displayed on iPlayer, but I feel you haven't followed through on the consequences. The new station-specific 'featured' listings are to all intents and purposes identical to the new station-specific 'latest programmes' listings. The reason is because the current iPlayer presentation requires editorial intervention, which is not, and presumably will not be, present in the new system. The new 'featured' listing is therefore superfluous and redundant. If you feel you still need to refer to what is 'featured', this I think should be best accomodated either by a link to the particular station homepage, where their editors can continue to do their thing, or by changing the current featured listing into a pan-station one, as per the current iPlayer presentation, The former assumes a continuing per-station editorial resource, whilst the latter will depend on the continuation of a pan-station editorial resource.

    • The pan-station/per-station issue has not been aired in any BBC announcement on the new product area as far I can see, other than your unexplained reference to "some strongly held views from technical and editorial teams", but it has a distinct impact on which pages of the 'old regime' will remain, whether they will remain, and if so, in what form. For example, will a station-specific page for a particular genre or an old style pan-station page for a particular genre be deleted or merged or replaced? And if they are to remain, will they remain in their existing format? I think it is important that you consult us on what is going to be kept and what is going to be dumped in the new product. We need to see the overall 'roadmap'.

    Russ

    P.S. On an elementary foundation point (my comment #18), please comply with the BBC's 976px page width requirement.

    P.P.S. Glad to hear the news about BBCiD interfacing. It's a secondary issue at the moment though.

  • Comment number 26.

    @Piet RE:"Why is the page header, like the new page header from the beta homepage, deviating from the one that is in the BBC GEL documentation? Is the GEL replaced already?"

    (I responded to this back on 8 Nov, but I've just noticed now that it never went thru for some reason [??]... so re-posting this again... but the GEL documentation you referred to has since been updated, so I'm afraid it's a bit moot at this point)

    The new page header on the Beta BBC Homepage — which we refer to as the "Global Masthead” — was a trial design (like the beat homepage, itself) but has since been adopted as v3.5 and is now documented in GEL: http://www.bbc.co.uk/gel/web/foundations/masthead/masthead-footer . v3.5 Global Masthead should be rolling out across all the BBC sites in the first quarter of 2012, including Mobile.

    Regards,
    Sacha Sedriks

 

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