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New carousel for the BBC Homepage

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Eleni Sharp Eleni Sharp | 09:29 UK time, Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Changes to BBC Homepage carousel high-lighted

Changes to the BBC Homepage highlighted - a new flavour bar and a simplified carousel

Hello, I'm Eleni Sharp, Product Manager of the BBC Homepage.

I'm delighted to tell you about a development on the Homepage which the team and I have been working on and which went live yesterday.

We have been developing the following new features to the carousel which takes up the top half of the page. The changes are based on how we can see the audience have been using the page and also what people have told us about the page during audience feedback sessions.

From today the Homepage has changed in the following ways:

• There's a revised content mix in the carousel

• There's a new flavour bar in the middle of the page

News and Sport are no longer grouped together

• Carousel rotations are no longer dependant on interaction with the flavour bar, hopefully making it easier for people to see more content

There are also lots of additional features coming in the next few weeks which the team are busy working on, including more Entertainment headlines and Twitter modules.

Why make these changes?

The role of the Homepage is an important one. It is often a visitor's first impression of BBC Online and the start of their journey with the BBC. The Homepage's purpose is to ensure people can find what they are looking for as quickly as possible and also encourage them to browse to discover something new. So everything the team does is focused around these themes.

In August alone the Homepage produced 142 million referrals to other areas of the BBC such as News, BBC iPlayer and CBeebies. Helped by the Olympics and the start of the new Premier League season, Sport alone received over 64 million referrals from the BBC Homepage.

The development of the Homepage is an on-going process. We are continuously analysing how the audience is using our product and working with our colleagues in Marketing and Audiences, UX and Editorial to improve our service.

Since the launch last year we've been exploring how people have been using the new page though analytics and user testing sessions which were ran across the UK.

Some of the most interesting things we noticed were

• People aren't engaging with the Flavour bar: the filtering tool, that sits in the middle of the page. We want to make this easier to use.

• The content mix on the page is feeling limited for audiences because they aren't using the filtering mechanism

• There is too much content, and sometimes duplication of content. We want to make the experience of the Homepage more focussed.

• We want to add an increased sense of 'liveliness' to the page.

• We want to explore how the Homepage could increase referrals to other areas of BBC Online.

What did we learn from the analytics?

The BBC Homepage is the third most popular Homepage in the UK behind Yahoo and MSN, we are notably the only page in the top four without an email provider (Neilsen Reach ranking).

Since the relaunch last year we have seen our weekly visitors remain stable at 9 million, although during the Olympics we saw this peak at over 10 million.

Whilst mobile and tablet usage are increasing, 75% of the homepage's audience still visit on a desktop device so it is important that this page is as efficient as possible.

On a monthly basis 40% of people who come to the Homepage are interacting with the carousel in the top half of the page. However, only 30% of total users who come to the Homepage are clicking on a piece of content in the carousel, so I wanted to look at why and find ways to increase this.

The BBC Homepage team at BBC North in MediaCityUK, Salford

The BBC Homepage development team at BBC North in MediaCityUK, Salford

As always we would love to know what you think. Please use the comments area below or alternatively tweet using the hashtag #bbchomepage.

Eleni Sharp is Product Manager, BBC Homepage, News & Knowledge, BBC Future Media.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Is there anyone over 35 in the BBC Homepage development team, as pictured? If not is this down to ageism or simple minimum wage economics?

    Anyway, I quite like the current homepage even though I rarely visit it. My route into your website is always through bookmarks to weather, news or iPlayer.

  • Comment number 2.

    It's great to see the BBC listening to it's users and those of us who went to the Connected Studios Homepage event who also suggested this as a positive change to improve the user experience.

    I'd love to see 'News' switched with 'Entertainment' in the Flavour bar though as I think it's a higher use case for most visitors of the site. Looking forward to seeing which of the many brilliant ideas at the Connected event we'll see implemented in the future!

  • Comment number 3.

    The photo looks like it's been taken in a college library!

  • Comment number 4.

    It's a very nice looking page and i think the changes are an improvement. However i think the problem is that the space on the carousel is not as effectively used as it could be.

    It always seems to be a fairly random selection of programmes from iPlayer, news articles, a few random recipes and not a huge amount else.

    There's loads of amazing content through the BBC that isn't flagged in the homepage, for example the music site... why no links to reviews of the newest albums just as an example. Or how about local travel news. And why is there nothing from the children's sites.

    It does not seem to be very flexible when the BBC has a big event or news event to show the huge amount of content the site provides on that subject, for example currently 1Xtra Live (loads of videos and photos - but who knows they're there?). Or when you're showing live sport on the website as you often are, why not link to it on the sport part of the carousel, rather than what you do now, which is a few obscure articles and an iPlayer episode from a few days ago.

  • Comment number 5.

    Why a link to 'iPlayer radio' and 'Radio' in the quick links / explore section? Seems redundant to have two links to the same page???

  • Comment number 6.

    Thanks for your comments.

    ref: Keepituseable #2. These changes were born from analysis and user feedback which started in a focus group in earlier in the year. I’m actually in the process of three Connected Studio pilots, and will do a new blog shortly to share the progress.

    ref: Robinho02 #4. All the content which appears on the carousel is carefully chosen by our Editorial team, and we believe it appeals to the wide audience of the Homepage, we monitor how people use the page so we know what works and what doesn't.

    We do link to live sport when we can, however, some of the things you mentioned such as more awareness of events, and travel news are on our roadmap to address.

  • Comment number 7.

    Virgin Internet BBC user Ex Pat Paddy for 30 years! Kudos to you Eleni Sharp ( sharp by name, sharp by nature)
    Team Photo is Brill.....young people, new skills, new ideas, future, save the BBC from the depths that it has managed to sink, don't follow the Bankers, don't follow the Church, don't follow the Government, don't follow the Mistakes, you guys are the future, you have amazing power and you have my total confidence to fight the fight and rid us of these dinosaurs, these remnants of a broken society...! let's move on...! Looking up the organization must be frightening ... It is the same everywhere, every organisation, every country, yours is an heroic challenge! Now the BBC is laid open......only you guys can save it....! Really...! Save it....! Please! To the BBC management, you know you have a problem, fancy that, what to do? The World is watching.....! Use the brilliance of the young people you employ to dig yourself's out of this pit.... And it is a pit.....! Please save the BBC...! We will miss you...! RIP
    Tom
    Dubai
    UAE

  • Comment number 8.

    Hi Eleni - Since the launch of the new page last year, I've rarely used the carousel; I used it tonight after reading your blog, but I can't figure out what's changed.

    As for the highlights in the picture at the top of your blog, I can't see how these elements have changed either.

    Am I right in thinking that the relaunch last year, which so many people disliked, has been a failure? Has there been an increase in the number of visitors to the Home Page? And I'd love to know what percentage of visitors look at the bottom half of the page.

    The fact is that for many of us, the Home Page just isn't as good as it used to be.

  • Comment number 9.

    Ok BEEB, you asked for an opinion so you will get one, do not worry it’s mostly all good…

    1st. The Homepage defaults to London, surly using “IP” detection it could pick up your location and automatically default to your home region? After all if your security conscious like me and delete your history and so on, it welcomes you to BBC London, great just what the regions want more of London.

    2nd. It’s a great homepage it really is but could you not make sure that UK local / regional news features, even on the London page, so that those outside the UK that are not automatically redirected to the internationally AD supported BBC.COM website, know there is more to the UK than London.

    3rd. I actually like London, well mostly.

    4th. Could we please have a Regional Have Your say, or include a rotating region by region HYS on the main HYS page, again so the regions have more of a voice?

    5th. MAKE IT ACCESSIBLE TO ALL; Provide the ability to change its style, the text size and enable alternative colour backgrounds, Plus a web based plug in that allows text to speech, similar to those provided on disability charities websites such as the www.bdadyslexia.org.uk as this would help both those with learning disabilities and the blind use the page.

    6th. Keep it real, yes celebrity “this includes non-direct action sports stories aka which footballers sleeping with who” are part of the modern world, but it is not all that important, and is a distraction from the real issues, not to say it does not have its place just not on the BBC Homepage, as it tabloids or red stripes the site, not that I am a snob, I just think the main Homepage must stay broad sheet.

    7th. well I think I have given you enough to go on with, you know how to contact me, via my BBC online tag if you want any more information on the above…

    Thanks all.

  • Comment number 10.

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

  • Comment number 11.

    Re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.
    Sorry, but the Tragic Roundabout was a mistake, and still is one.

    And in light of the recent BBC mismanagement, is anyone surprised?
    It's been going on for years at FM&T as any feedback is ignored, deemed off topic, or figures hidden when it suits.

  • Comment number 12.

    @11 9 million visits and 3rd place ranking hardly seems like a mistake.

  • Comment number 13.

    If only 30% of users are clicking on carousel content what are the rest of them doing? It appears that 6.3m people a week aren't finding anything there that interests them enough to click on it.

    Also 142m referrals a month sounds like a lot but if there are 9m visitors a week this works out at about 4 referrals a week per visitor, half of which apparently are for sport. I seem to remember that one of the main arguments for the change in the design last year was that too many people were using the BBC homepage as a proxy for the sport and news homepages and the intention was to highlight other content. It would be interesting to know to what extent this has happened.

    I just don't think that the current design flags up content in a way that encourages people to look at it.

  • Comment number 14.

    With the android and now windows moving to this tile approach I think its right that the bbc are moving with the times! Good to see, and good work!

  • Comment number 15.

    @12 What was it before on the customisable, personalised homepage?
    Compare apples with apples, not oranges.

  • Comment number 16.

    And to prove my point, the BBC promoted the mobile homepage as being more customisable.

    More, in almost every dictionary, means there is a greater amount, quantity, of something, etc.

    The original makeover had a whole 10 options, fewer than the original.
    So in fact, that's LESS customisation then.

    The answer from Eleni:
    I am also sorry that the features you previously enjoyed aren’t currently available, but we’re confident that the changes made so far make it easier for the majority of the audience to find the content they’re most interested in. In this context we don’t believe that the claims made in the on-air promotion of the new homepage were misleading, but we recognise you may continue to feel differently.

    Since when did "easier" mean "more"? They are diverse functions completely.

    This is the problem we have with the BBC management. They don't want to listen to the user. They only want to tell you what they want, and deny there is a problem.

  • Comment number 17.

    After using this for the last few days, i really like it. Much improved!

  • Comment number 18.

    Is it just me, or is anyone else using Firefox missing the pictures on the second and subsequent pages of the carousel? They appear fine in Internet Explorer 8.

    Incidentally, I still don't like the carousel, nor the overall design of the home page.

  • Comment number 19.

    At least its easier to change the location now, That is one of the most important part of the BBC homepage

  • Comment number 20.

    Am I going mad or have you removed the feature that would mean if you chose a radio station in the home page What's On section then that specific station was always there showing whats on now and next? If so, seems like a real step backwards - drives me mad already as Radio 1 is default for some reason. Why?

  • Comment number 21.

    In Chrome (latest version) the link to Sport beneath the carousel (on the Flavour Bar) moves onto a second line so you can only see the top of the word.

  • Comment number 22.

    Rex Luscus #18 and Mr Frisbee #21, these problems may be caused by having the text zoom on, try turning it off and you should be able to view all the content as normal.

  • Comment number 23.

    Eleni Sharp - no, it is not text zoom - already tested that.

  • Comment number 24.

    OOPs, it is zoom, have to re-zoom and refresh the page (normally do not need to do that).

  • Comment number 25.

    The main home page today is mainly football. I have no interest in football, or indeed any sport. It would be useful if I could configure the aspects of interest, and that these are the key items that fill the home page.

    Perhaps the carousel grouping could be stored somehow as part of the cookie, so that when I return, the appropriate group I had selected on my previous visit could be displayed on startup. It might not be as flexible as the old home page (2011), but would at least let me focus initially on the aspect I find most important.

    Even the Android app is more customisable than the full browser version.

  • Comment number 26.

    Not as keen on the new Homepage either - can't get used to it. And now, when I change the Radio selection to Radio 4extra, it isn't kept when I log out and back in; nor does it stay put if I go into the schedule and then go back to the Homepage. It always used to be 'nailed' there once changed. Has there been an up(down?)grade??

  • Comment number 27.

    I use an iPad mostly and the 'flavour bar' shows up but nothing below it. Windows 8 also show it that way now, so its never seen unless you scroll down.
    I really have not ever used the carousel (its just alien to any other scroll format I use, much prefer to scroll up and down either on a tablet and especially with a mouse) and so do not see much difference in the changes you mention.
    Might as well just click on the headline links to the news or sport, I am sure that is what most people want.
    I do wish you would reduce the pictures a bit and have a little more content on the main homepage.
    Also what is the point of that right top article popping up and down, why not keep it static.

    From your comments it does seem as though the carousel format has not worked and having watched many people use it, they also just enter the homepage and move on, without any carousel use.

  • Comment number 28.

    One other thing, would be nice to have an option to turn off the Twitter Modules, for me they offer nothing to professional news reporting, Its great when you can do this in an app, so would be nice within the browser.

  • Comment number 29.

    So, can you confirm that the home page really cannot even remember what Radio Station I like to have access to from the home page? It is infuriating that I have to re-select it EVERY SINGLE TIME I go to the home page and want to listen. Come on, basic customisation is really simple - why have you removed even this base level?

  • Comment number 30.

    In a list of the hundred best websites I would have rated the old BBC Homepage at number 1, the new one wouldn't get on the list.

    I have persevered - or I should say more and more got frustrated and not bothered to the point where the BBC no longer functions as MY homepage in any real sense - so I will change it to another.

    What a terrible shame - on the old site I could dump sport and TV drivel in favour of intelligent content - the intelligent content is still there but it's hidden behind a compulsory twitchy and noisy facade of dumbed down populist mediocrity.

    I'll occasionally visit the BBC website and excavate below the horrible surface in search of the intelligent stuff - even though that is harder now than it was. I suspect this is what has held up site hits for now. But will that last ... "The role of the Homepage is an important one. It is often a visitor's first impression of BBC Online and the start of their journey with the BBC".

 

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