Reimagining the BBC's TV channels in a four screen world
BBC Three homepage across three platforms
It's 3 years 8 months since the BBC last refreshed the websites of BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three & BBC Four and, to misquote Harold Wilson, 3 years 8 months is a long time in online.
On the 16th September 2008, there was no Apple iPad, Google Android was still in beta and BBC iPlayer had yet to celebrate its first birthday.
Today's launch reflects just how transformational the past few years have been. Rather than a static website designed for a single screen size (the PC), the new channel sites are responsively designed to work across multiple screen sizes and orientations. This chimes with the 'four screens' ambition of the BBC Online strategy and is the BBC's first attempt to design responsively across PC, tablet and mobile. Whilst there's still some polishing to do (e.g. support for swiping on touch screen devices), it feels like an important step in the right direction. Look out for a blog post from my Future Media colleague, Dave Killeen, on the technical challenges of building these pages responsively.
The new designs also reflect the increasingly mainstream nature of on demand viewing. The previous designs had space to showcase just two programmes to watch in BBC iPlayer; the new designs enable the display of up to 35, thanks to the introduction of a carousel (part of the BBC's Global Experience Language).
What's being broadcast live on the channels has also been given greater prominence and made more responsive to the time of day. Anchored in the first panel of the carousel, the live panel automatically increases in size during peak time and reducing again during off-peak hours. Online viewing of the channel simulcasts has been steadily increasing since 2008 and now accounts for 15% of BBC iPlayer TV viewing requests.
It's now easier to flip between BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three & BBC Four, with quick links in the navigation bar, alongside a link to the full TV Guide, which showcases all BBC TV channels and those of the BBC's interlinking partners, all with 'backwards EPG' functionality, providing quick links to on demand assets where available.
The TV Guide has addressable views for the UK's various nations and regions, which can therefore be bookmarked (here's Wales) and there are more regionalisation features in the pipeline.
Despite using a single set of templates, the new designs also aim to reflect the unique personalities of each of the four channels, not just visually but in terms of their content offers. For example, the BBC Four carousel includes thematic collections of classic archive programmes (e.g. Army,All American, Talk), whilst BBC Three (which we relaunched last week) reflects activity on its social media presences and offers a 'Feed My Funny' filter of snackable comedy, made exclusively for the web.
We'll be continuing to enrich these pages over the coming months, but I'd love to hear what you think of where we've got to so far.
Dan Taylor is Executive Editor, TV & iPlayer