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The new web site: one week on

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Leigh Aspin Leigh Aspin 19:44, Monday, 6 April 2009

Radio4homepageillustration.jpg

Thank you for your comments. While we're pleased with much about the new site, we always expected to continue work after launch.

Firstly, I'm sorry that so many of you experienced technical problems over the weekend. There were publishing problems on Friday afternoon which affected the availability of radio programmes. We're aware of another problem on Sunday morning which affected our new programme pages for a short time. It isn't any consolation to know that these failures weren't confined to Radio 4. I share your frustration.

I'd also like to pick up a few of the main issues raised in your feedback.

Homepage design: We've had some positive comments about the homepage but I've also noted that some people don't like the top promotion area or our use of images. This homepage marks a departure from the old design and I appreciate that it isn't to everyone's taste. But this is also one of the more subjective areas of discussion and there isn't a consensus across the feedback we've received, so we're going to work with this for a while longer before drawing any firm conclusions.

Navigation: The majority of pages and navigational links tested well before launch but new issues arise when you launch a site and expose it to the real world. We're already considering changes that we could make to address some of the valid points raised. But we're going to let the site bed down a little more first, so that we can be sure to understand the impact of any changes that we might make across the range of Radio 4 content and other parts of the BBC that share this system.

Archive: I concede that navigating to the archive isn't something we've got right yet. At the moment, we're linking back to pages from our old site for archive content, with current content available on our new pages, but we will bring our archive audio content into the same system in the near future. (This is part of the plan to enable our archive content to be 'tagged' and found by subject). In the meantime, archive content can be found by following the 'archive' links in the navigation at the top of programme pages.

Programme information: We now have a page for every programme we broadcast and these pages have developed during the week since relaunch, as the teams around the BBC who supply content for the website have started to work with our new systems. It isn't yet perfect across the board but you should continue to see improvements.

News Headlines and Weather: In responding to feedback that the old homepage was too cluttered, we had to decide to remove some features which we knew users could access easily elsewhere. Many of our users go to the BBC News and Weather sites and this was a relatively unused feature of the old Radio 4 homepage, which is why we removed it.

We're still identifying and working through a list of snags which will iron out some of the smaller points raised. I am grateful to those of you who have taken the time to outline specific points constructively and ask for your patience as we make improvements in the weeks to come.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    Although you can indeed access the old archive page of Saturday Live, all the "listen again to this programme" links are now dead, as I discovered this morning when I tried to catch up on episodes from a few weeks ago. And on the programme's new page, it seems to be no longer possible to listen to any programme after seven days. Is the show no longer being archived?

  • Comment number 2.

    To whomever is responsible for classifying programmes, for my money, content is inaccessible because it's misclassified e.g. click on 'Comedy' and you actually get 'Entertainment & Comedy' programmes. Also, programmes listed under 'satire' hardly fall under satire. This needs addressing. I find Radio7's blog-powered micro-site but smoother.

  • Comment number 3.

    I noticed whilst using Ken Bruce's Radio 2 contact page to email Zoe Ball that I was limited to 255 characters. The same limit applies on Feedback on Radio 4, but were I to email Over To You on the World Service I would be granted 500 characters maximum. Is there any particular reason for listeners to the UK services being limited to 255 characters as I’ve easily exceeded that limit in this comment already?

  • Comment number 4.

    Leigh

    thankyou for this comprehensive round-up, and thanks also to Steve and the team.


    RE Homepage Design.

    Just to get a 'feel' for the Radio 4 homepage, I took a wander around the homepages for Radios 2,3 and 7.

    It is really interesting to compare features:

    1. Radio 7 has a blue banner stating 'Radio 4' as the station of the year 2008 on its homepage - where is this on R4's homepage?!

    2. At the foot of Radio 2, there is the 'Ways to listen' bar - this would be a great feature for Radio 4, too. Either that or a link to

    www.bbc.co.uk/radio

    3. Radio 3 (and Radio 7) have a column (like on the BBC homepage) of both 'what's on AND what's coming up.
    For listeners who are at their keyboards, mostly we already know what is on (we are listening to it!), but we might want to plan the next hour's listening space.

    These features are already out there, and could be simply (?) added to the Radio 4 homepage, to make it stand out as the best of the bunch at BBC Radio.

    nick

  • Comment number 5.

    Why has it been made so difficult (actually I am finding it impossible) to listen live to Radio4 programs now

  • Comment number 6.

    I suggest you look at Beyond Belief to see why the redesign is being received negatively. Beyond Belief is listed under Programmes, but can be found by using the "Search BBC" function. This takes you to the old homepage where the archive goes back to 2002 and is listed by topic, e.g. 'dreams', Darwinism'. There is also a link to the new homepage where archive only goes back to 2007, programmes are listed only by air date - and none are available. Same problems with Thinking Allowed, Material World, In Our Time, etc. Every click on the old website now takes at least 3 clicks on the new site to reach the same goal. Admittedly, the user is now dealing with page after cloying page of glitz and glamour to reach the content, but I think most Radio 4 listeners are interested in substantive content and less concerned with visual high style.

    wtempest

  • Comment number 7.

    And another thing .... on the old homepage, you could click on Drama, then on Afternoon Play and see all the current week's plays (and the previous week's) with synopsis and cast lists. Easy to plan your listening, easy to listen to something that catches your fancy. No such luck on the new site. The only way to see what's coming up on Afternoon Play appears to be by checking the schedule day by day. As for trying to search by genre - well others have commented on the lack of rhyme and reason in the way programmes are classified.

    Yes, as a Canadian listener, a certain amount of Radio 4 programming is local, but a fair amount appeals no matter where you're living - the dramas, In Our Time, Thinking Allowed, Reith Lectures, science. And if there's nothing of immediate interest, there Radio 3, Radio 7 and World Service or the archives of Radio 4 programmes like Beyond Belief, Thinking Allowed or In Our Time to stretch my mind while working at the computer.

    This redesign - like the Radio 7 redesign - and the iPlayer seems to have been done with TV viewers in mind - more style, less substance.

    wtempest

  • Comment number 8.

    I agree with wtempest that the pictures (glitz and glamour) are something I'd rather do without - especially the awful tendency to use faces. The Francis Bacon distortion of the picture at the start of this page, for example.

    Especially on the homepage, we want content, not pictures. If you use pictures to break up the monotony of a page, let them be an indication of the subject matter dealt with, not another contribution to the cult of personality or celebrity. Certainly don't ram them at us , dominating the page.

    You may call this subjective reaction, but I think you'll find that the psychological effect of large faces placed where we expect information or links to be, is more than just subjective reaction. it's an affront. I'm making a serious point here, not just reacting.

    arlatan





  • Comment number 9.

    background too white - really, really off putting. Cold and clinical.

    Please change it to a 'warmer' colour.

    White reminds me of worklife and requests for rapid infomation. If you listen to radio4 day-in-day-out through your computer, clicking the website open is more like 'coming back to the fold' after a hard day's work! Should be warm and familiar.

    thank you for taking my opinion into consideration.

    Louise

  • Comment number 10.

    Will this be converted eventually to the "new look for blogs" format, which,

    "among other shortcomings,, no longer supports block quotation to offset quoted material, and has aroused much complaint regarding line length and readability?"
    If that is the intent, will we be warned?

    Looks good in general.

    All the best
    Hesiodos

  • Comment number 11.

    Do

  • Comment number 12.

    I have

  • Comment number 13.

    to post

  • Comment number 14.

    six comments

  • Comment number 15.

    to become a trustie?
    ;-)
    Hesiodos

  • Comment number 16.

    So, everybody hates it, but you aren't going to do anything about it. Why am I not surprised?

  • Comment number 17.

    Does this workaround for quotations work here?

    • "Thank you for your comments. While we're pleased with much about the new site, we always expected to continue work after launch.

      Firstly, I'm sorry that so many of you experienced technical problems over the weekend. There were publishing problems on Friday afternoon which affected the availability of radio programmes. "
    It works (after a fashion) on the "new look" blogs.

    ;-)
    Hesiodos

  • Comment number 18.

    Sorry, but I just want to add yet another voice to the criticisms of your new home page, in particular about the wasted space on the large photographs featured. This is a web page for RADIO listeners and I'm sure many of us don't want photographs - certailny not when the main problem is to get enough space on the page for links and verbal information about scheduled progammes. Please get rid of those photos and reduce the need for tedious scrolling. And I really miss the easy access to "Listen Again" in the old form.

  • Comment number 19.

    #17,

    I guess not, but blockquote still does:

    " * Firstly, I'm sorry that so many of you experienced technical problems over the weekend. There were publishing problems on Friday afternoon which affected the availability of radio programmes. "

    It works (after a fashion) on the "new look" blogs."

    ;-)

    ed

  • Comment number 20.

    Please note that many links remain broken on the new site. When you select a topic area such as News or Drama, my experience continues be that the top link (and sometimes more than the top link) returns '... is not available at this time' or 'This content doesn't seem to be working'. This was most definitely NOT restricted to over the weekend but is an ongoing problem. Please don't publish links to recent broadcasts until the recordings are reliably available.

    You comment about adding links to News and Weather websites is patronising and speaks volumes about how far out of touch you are. If I want to read news from a web site I will go to the web site. If I go to the Radio 4 web site I expect to be able to LISTEN to news broadcasts. That's the whole point. This is a choice I am capable of making for myself, I don't need you to make it for me. More than anything else I'd like to be able to listen to the most recent news broadcast reliably from the first link I click. Surely this isn't too much to ask?

  • Comment number 21.

    Rubbish website. I've said this before - where is your beta test site? No - I thought not. You dive straight in and make a mess.

    PS - where's the Listen Again section gone to?

  • Comment number 22.

    How many blogs are you going to start on the radio4 website redesign?

    Is this a method to muddy the waters and wear the responders down
    till we have no more energy to complain about how non-functional
    the new design truly is. I never realised how much I would
    miss the old design. Would you at least group all of the plays
    that are available to listen to on one easy accessible page.

    The functionality loss can be easily demonstrated with the nastiness
    of the URL's
    The old comedy page URL was obvious and easy to remember

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/comedy
    compared to ..
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/programmes/genres/entertainmentandcomedy

    or arts
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/arts
    compared to
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/programmes/genres/drama

    No comment on the difference in content, enough has
    been said about how useless and unfriendly the new
    pages are.

    For those of you who are interested as well as those
    who have no comments to make but would like to make
    your voice heard vote here. http://www.vizu.com/vot/Entertainment/BBC/RADIO4/RADIO/poll-vote.html?n=157092

    I have read the BBC blog and message board external links Editorial Guidelines page and this link
    is not in violation of those guidelines.

    The old website design truly wasn't so bad in comparison, it may have needed a little maintenance. I truly am tired of all the silly pictures
    now splattered all of the place, especially when you can't even click
    on them. Example the smaller archers graphic on the home page, how
    about linking it to the archers homepage.. . you know something
    useful. How about a link to the latest truly available archers
    episode and not the omnibus... I come to the home page daily not
    once a week!

  • Comment number 23.

    Muuuuuch better use of space on Radio 4 home page - a sensible width at last! Unlike this blog which is jammed into one edge...

  • Comment number 24.

    With respect, the technical problems with the new site were not limited to the weekend; they are ongoing. After endless and frustrating, counter-intuitive trawling to find programs that used to be found quickly and easily, the audio link doesn't work. And to echo the views of other listeners, the whole point of internet access is AUDIO ON DEMAND, not pictures of a show that won't load. Direct links to audio have disappeared. Multiple clicks to find a program result in a message to the effect that it isn't available. The pictures are IRRELEVANT. I've listened to Radio 4 online since it became available and I go to the website to find a DIRECT LINK to a variety of audio content. Listen Again worked, the new system doesn't. This is the worst website redesign I've experienced.

  • Comment number 25.

    So far 3 out of 3 programs are unavailable for one reason or another.... why fix unbroken sites? If this continues, make sure Mr. Parsons removes "from around the world" from his intro, as he probably wont be heard,(at least here in the US.)

  • Comment number 26.

    Secondly, what happened to "currently off the air"? How can I keep track of favorite shows? The Radio Times is not delivered here!

  • Comment number 27.

    Dear Mr Aspin

    When I contributed to Mr Bowbrick's blog, pointing out the things I'd noticed weren't working on the new site, he asked me to report any more faults. Since the Listen Again feature has been faulty for months and continues to be after the re-design, I'm going to make a daily report until it is fixed.

    As I reported yesterday the Monday episode of Women's hour drama is not working. It is still not working, although episode 2 is available. Not much point in listening to episode 2 if you can't hear episode 1.

  • Comment number 28.

    Sorry, I forgot to mention that the extended interview with Rowan Williams which is offered on the webpage for the second episode of the programme on Britishness will not play. That may be God's mercy at work, but I suspect man's inefficiency had more to do with it.

  • Comment number 29.

    My last word on the subject conflates two earlier comments: the persons responsible for the redesign have ruined a functional website with cheap gimmickry, producing something that's very pretty and virtually useless. Well done.

  • Comment number 30.

    @Oldredhen The first episode of this week's Woman's Hour Drama - Restless by William Boyd - appears to be working now: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00jcvhg Likewise the interview with Rowan Williams: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00jhpj3 (although Rowan Williams does seem to speak EXTREMELY QUIETLY). Both play nicely in Firefox on my BBC-issued PC anyway.

    Without actually checking with the iPlayer team I'm going to suggest that you were probably affected by the problems that affected the whole BBC site at the weekend. Try both again and if you find that they're still not working, there's a pretty good help page here: http://iplayerhelp.external.bbc.co.uk/help/playing_programmes

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog

  • Comment number 31.

    @frugalfungus On your 'off the air' question, I've found a useful 'all' button on the alphabetical listing pages. The default shows programmes that you can listen to now (like so: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/programmes/a-z/by/e using the letter 'e' as an example) but if you click 'all' at the top of the listing you get all programmes including those that are off air (like so: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/programmes/a-z/by/e/all). This is the kind of discovery I think we're all going to be making as we get used to the new site.

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog

  • Comment number 32.

    I think the site looks great, much cleaner, less cluttered and very modern looking. I'm sure there are things that need to be added to and tinkered with, but that will come, as it has with all the other news sites across bbc.co.uk

    I remember people moaning about the main bbc.co.uk homepage when it launched...from what I understand, it's as popular now as it's even been, so, for all the moaning, people stil l use it!

  • Comment number 33.

    All sorts of overlaps and mis-matches in Firefox (3.08), (when "zoomed" to get readable text on these comments) but less so in Opera (Version
    9.64) and seamonkey (1.1.15)

    In general, pictures far too big (especially main one). Pictures ("choice" and "popular") should also all be clickable links - it's often the most obvious and easiest (and real easy to code)

    "could do better" - much better!
    Not very "Radio Four"
    ;-(
    Hesiodos

  • Comment number 34.

    (continued...) And, while you're at it, why not make the link to this blog a bit more obvious? Maybe the

    "While we're pleased with much about the new site, we always expected to continue work after launch."
    enlarged quote could be made clickable?

    ;-)

  • Comment number 35.

    Where has the listen again section gone? It was very straightforward and simple. Programmes were very easy to find. I find your new layout very confusing. Is the podcast the same as listen again? Is that the equivalent? How do I find programmes I have missed that I want to listen to? The comedy section seems to have stuff in it that doesn't look like comedy.

  • Comment number 36.

    Has the Iplayer replaced Listen Again and does this mean that there are fewer programs available? This seems unlikely but I dont understand why I can't listen again to The Unbelievable Truth? Can anyone help?

  • Comment number 37.

    Leigh,

    "there isn't a consensus across the feedback we've received, "
    Aye, that'll be right. The negative comments are too varied to constitute a consensus....

    But
    1. Nobody has said the pictures are too small.
    2. Few have said it's an improvement.
    3. 44 negative to 5 positive would win most elections....

    ;-)

  • Comment number 38.

    #36 I agree, it does seem strange to highlight programmes you can't listen to...

  • Comment number 39.

    On the previous site it was possible to view all of the afternoon plays for the week and for the previous week. It was also ppossible to link to the Friday Play, the Saturday Play etc. It does not appear to be possible to do this fromthe new site.

  • Comment number 40.

    Sorry BBC this is a giant leap backwards in terms of useability - please rethink!

    Looking for Mark Steel's excellent In Town series I thought it had finished until I realised it was actually a moving target and already relegated to a subsidiary page because I hadn't listened to it quickly enough. This dynamic format also means I've now got a pad and pen by the side of the computer so I can keep track of what I've listened to.

    Finally, the easiest way I can find to get to the Archers webpages is to go to play an episode then use the links across the title to get to the familiar electronic arm of Ambridge.

    Not good.

  • Comment number 41.

    I don't know why you had to change anything. I've tried to find listen again and it's proving practically impossible. Whether I'll make it within the 7 day listening period remains to be seen.

  • Comment number 42.

    @lucyb159 and @Briantist I've checked and it seems that The Unbelievable Truth, episode 3 (and other programmes that went missing) was victim of the weekend's technical problems with the iPlayer. It's now back, though, so you can listen to it here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00jhp5b - there was a painful period during which it was featured on the homepage but not available to listen to. Ouch.

    @TheCatholic You can get a pretty comprehensive list of Afternoon Plays here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qrzz - i.e. all the programmes that are available to listen to now.

    In general, it's probably worth pointing out that all the programmes that were available before the redesign are still available but sometimes in different ways. And Leigh is keen to point out in his latest post here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radio4/2009/04/the_new_radio_4_web_site_one_w.html that content and navigation will evolve to make things easier to find over time.

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog

  • Comment number 43.

    Steve,

    Thanks for the circular link!

    ;-)

  • Comment number 44.

    @Hesiodos Oops :->

  • Comment number 45.

    Why did you have to fix it if was not broken?

  • Comment number 46.

    It is so difficult to find Listen Again. It used to take a minute - now I simply can't find it. I want to browse and be inspired not click and click and click into sub menus and find nothing when I get there. Argh.

  • Comment number 47.

    "Why did you have to fix it if was not broken?"

    This is the internet. A very young place. It's still growing up. I would be much more worried if the BBC kept the designs it had years ago. Keeping up with technology - in this case database driven content - is incredibly important. Every type of medium changes as technology progresses. Websites - the epitome of technology - have to change.

    And seriously. Radio 4 is for intelligent people, apparently. Why is it so hard for you to adapt to new things. Surely adaptablity is one the reasons humans evolved into intelligent beings.

    If I read "if it ain't broke..." again...

  • Comment number 48.

    This is getting ridiculous.
    I just tried to listen again to the Now show It's not working.
    I went to the news section. I couldn't find the news but the first choice in the list is not working.
    Judging from Hesiodos' comments above this blog is in danger of degenerating into a techie love hug so let's try to be clear
    There is a problem with content not working
    Look at the comments above, ask someone in a BBC office in Delhi to check. You have a problem.
    It may work on Firefox on your BBC supplied PC. Here in the real world on my PC with WIE it doesn't work.
    Will it help if I begs? ok I'm begging Please try to fix this problem.

  • Comment number 49.

    @French_user I feel your pain. Would you do me a huge favour and try The Now Show again and this time make a note of what happens when you try to play the programme and post it back here.

    Try this page: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00jf47y and iPlayer: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00jf47y/The_Now_Show_Series_26_Episode_5/

    Likewise, which news programme isn't working and what happens when you try? Thanks,

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog

  • Comment number 50.

    I am incredulous - after posting a blog to express how much I dislike the new site a few days ago, I stopped in this morning to see more comments. They are almost without exception IN THE NEGATIVE. However, the latest update from Leigh Aspin includes a comment that there is "not a concensus across the comments we have received". How much more ridiculous can this get? The viewers have spoken and are continuing to do so. Have a little respect for all of us out there who are taking the time to make our feelings known and have the decency to at least acknowledge them.

  • Comment number 51.

    Maybe I am not yet used to the new format but I do have problems. I miss the old A-Z format listing all programmes with a thumb nail indication of a programme's content all on one page instead of having to pull up 26 pages separately. Also under "Science" for example dozens of programmes were once listed not just the recent few as of now. Why did you tinker (and spend money) to change a format that was perfectly fine ?

  • Comment number 52.

    Dear Mr Bowbrick

    Sorry, but I still can't get episode 1 of the Woman's Hour drama to play. I get the message "Woman's Hour Drama: Restless: Episode 1 is unavailable at this time."

    I use Firefox 3.0.8 and my OS is Ubuntu. I've tried clearing private data on Firefox and restarting my computer (which sometimes works). I can play episode 2. So, despite the fact that you can get it to play, I think the fault is at the BBC's end not mine.

    I'm giving up on Women's Hour drama for this week.

  • Comment number 53.

    As of 2 minutes ago
    The Now Show Series 26: episode 5 is unavailable at this time
    Also on the same page
    The Unbelievable truth
    Safety Catch
    but a different message.
    This content doesn't seem to be working . . .

  • Comment number 54.

    The news programme was the first choice in the list All seem to be working now but.

  • Comment number 55.

    Also Hallelujah in the Choice of the Day section
    This content doesn't seem to be working . . .

  • Comment number 56.

    As of I minute ago
    Safety Catch listenable
    The other two still down

  • Comment number 57.

    Both links for the Now Show give the same error message as above. Sorry, my mind blanked out when I saw the links.

  • Comment number 58.

    the Unbelievable truth is working now.
    Whoever is twiddling the connectors behind the dashboard is obviously twiddling the right ones. Keep It up. still no joy with The Now Show and Hallelujah.

    Could somebody out there in cyber space please confirm this problem or is it a local effect? DGSE censorship or BBC deciding we don't deserve to hear the good bits in France?

  • Comment number 59.

    Talking to myself.
    Bad habit
    Got to get out more.

  • Comment number 60.

    @greatauntedna It's worth pointing out that when Leigh says "there isn't a consensus across the feedback we've received" he's talking specifically about the homepage design, for which he has had a range of opinions, both here on the blog and elswhere (on Twitter, for instance: http://search.twitter.com/search?max_id=1477364089&page=1&q=radio4+site).

    Also, the excellent science archive (always a favourite of mine and a pioneering example of content made available in perpetuity) is still available in its old form: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/science/ and will be integrated with the new design soon.

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog

  • Comment number 61.

    @gamlelegen Sorry, I should have directed the science part of the previous comment to you! Here it is again!

    Also, the excellent science archive (always a favourite of mine and a pioneering example of content made available in perpetuity) is still available in its old form: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/science/ and will be integrated with the new design soon.

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog

  • Comment number 62.

    @French_user and @Oldredhen I'm going to pass your problems to the iPlayer support team since I can't reproduce them on my computer and you're evidently still suffering. I'll report back if I learn anything specific.

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog

  • Comment number 63.

    Let's take the Comedy category. Click on the link on the home page and you're shown a page with a few comedy programmes, some of which you can't yet listen to. At the bottom of the left-hand column, there's a link "6 More comedy programmes available". Why are they on a separate page? Click the link, and lo, a page with *all* the comedy programmes available appears. Why not just connect that page to the Comedy link on the homepage?

    Beta testing. It saves a lot of trouble in the end y'know.

  • Comment number 64.

    Mr Bowbrick, Thanks for the link to the science archive. For the love of god, please do not let them 'integrate it into the new design soon'. It is currently wonderful. If has information at one click of a button. It has no tiresome images. It works. Even if there is no hope of restoring the rest of the old pages (and I'm betting there isn't, even if the entire R4 audience got down on its knees and begged collectively), at least stop them from 'integrating' (aka destroying) any more of it.

  • Comment number 65.

    @French_user and @Oldredhen Sorry, should have said: can you provide me with URLs of the problem pages - the whole web address for each page - then I can ask iPlayer support to take a look. Thanks,

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog

  • Comment number 66.

    @BoldRodent You make a very good point. We're all used to these pages (I've been using and linking to the science page for years) but I know that it's a big chore for science department staff to update it and that it can't be automatically updated when a new programme arrives like the new pages. These are the compromises we make.

    Also, I count 58 images on the page. Are none of them tiresome? :->

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog

  • Comment number 67.

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

  • Comment number 68.

    Mr B, The fact that I did not notice the images on the science page I think says it all - they are innocuous and small, and therefore do not intrude on my navigation of the site!

    I'm sorry updating pages is a 'chore' - is it not somebody's job???

  • Comment number 69.

    Steve,

    "but I know that it's a big chore for science department staff to update it and that it can't be automatically updated when a new programme arrives like the new pages. These are the compromises we make"
    Surely the neww data-based updating isn't incompatible with the 'old' layout! It's only html/xml!

    Come on.
    ;-)

  • Comment number 70.

    Why are we faced with an enormous image of the 6.30 comedy person who was on YESTERDAY. One day at a time might be a great motto for some but I think that the new website designers are drunk on their new dumbed down image.
    Don't need big writing - not 7 years old. Don't need big pictures - not 5 years old. Do need quick efficient direct links - reaction overall ugh!

  • Comment number 71.

    Oh dear, I got modded earlier.
    If my critical comments offended, then I am truly sorry and I apologise.

    That is what one should do when one is in the wrong.
    Could the persons responsible for the new website please take note of that...

    Also, why has the complete list of comments been reduced from around 150+ this afternoon (8/4/09) down to the current 70?

    Surely not an attempt to reduce the non-positive comments, or possibly just another limitation of the new site?

    PS
    The new site still doesn't seem to work well with Firefox on Macintosh OS X.
    Could be the use of animation/adblocking add ons that I (and many others use) that is causing the problem, but it is too early to state for certain.

  • Comment number 72.

    I had great hopes after hearing that the problems with listening to episodes of The Archers would be resolved with the new website, but in fact, if possible, it's worse. And the new "I'm sorry, this content doesn't seem to be working" message is condescending and infuriating. Of course it doesn't seem to be working. What we want from a message like that is some information on why it's not working and when we might expect that it will work. But then again, since nothing works, I guess it would be hard to identify single causes.

  • Comment number 73.

    @Cynikal...moi? Comments on this topic are distributed across several blog posts. This one plus this one: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radio4/2009/03/designing_the_new_radio_4_web.html this one: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radio4/2009/03/more_on_the_new_radio_4_web_si.html this one: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radio4/2009/03/the_countdown_has_begun.html and this one: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radio4/2009/03/the_new_radio_4_web_site.html. One of those posts has over 150 comments. That's probably the one you're thinking of.

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog

  • Comment number 74.

    Thanks to hobbs_baranov for spotting the '6 more programmes' link on the comedy homepage. I agree...just take the link away and put the progs all on one page.

    What is the point of needless extra clicks???

  • Comment number 75.

    I'm absolutely not someone who says I want the old site back - it was flawed and dated and needed fixing. However, what we've got now isn't yet where it should be.

    Over the last week I've used the homepage more now, but I like it even less. The overall effect is that the old site has been replaced with a large database of programmes - which in concept is ok, but the formulaic pages are bereft of any real content.

    Take the new Saturday Live page, really missing any detailed content - just access to some basic programme info and a bit of puffy promotional material. Click through to the 'no longer updated' archive site and you get more detail and information, presented less formulaically.

    The top level navigation menu supports my feeling that we are now searching a database of programmes/podcasts rather than a site bursting with content and knowledge. Perhaps if more time can go into the programmes catalogue content then it will become more valuable, but at the moment it feels like more has been taken away than has been added.

    I do agree with that the prominence of podcasts is vital. I already listen to more R4 each week on podcast than I do live. More podcasts!

    The new site feels too clinical and as if it lacks any personality. I want to be intrigued, delighted and surprised by content on the website that matches the standard (and supports) your broadcast output. Show me the people behind the programmes, the network, and most of all the extensions of the stories (factual and otherwise) that come through your programming.

    We seem to have lost the global 'about R4' type features - I don't know why, but insights into the newsroom, the presenters, the announcers always made me feel closer to the network. Perhaps more blogging across more areas of R4 - and blogging that is more closely integrated with the website would help with that. Where it happens now (PM, Today etc) it works wonderfully.

    Keep the database of programmes - I'm sure it will develop into its potential - it is the right direction. However, most importantly give us content not marketing snippets.

    Overall, where is the innovation and creativity that gave us the PM blogs? The quirkiness that the network sometimes displays on air? What about all the richness of interface that web 2.0 can provide? I want a website that stands up against the world's best radio station (and I've heard a few!). Be bold!

    Finally, I was disappointed by Leigh's recent post. It does seem overly optimistic about the feedback so far - I really, really want to like the site, and I am not a BBC basher, but I'm not currently feeling listened to in my opinions. Please be honest with yourselves about what works and what doesn't - listen to your users and please be honest with us: if budget constraints mean there will be less investment in the website so a database of programmes is all that is feasible, then the direction you've taken makes some sense at least.

    I live in hope that it will improve and improve over the weeks to come.

  • Comment number 76.

    As an expat I feel "cut off" without my regular access to The Archers. It's all very strange and hit and miss and has happened over the past few weeks only. Currently I am unable to catch up with all episodes including Sunday's. Now that I check I find have also now lost last week's omnibus having been able to hear it on Monday. Last week episode my access "dribbled in" two to three days after each broadcast. This week it's even worse. Access to other programmes is similar. This is not really a complaint, though I am not happy, but I would hate this to continue.
    Congrats on the look of the new website - more modern and inviting!

  • Comment number 77.

    Leigh:
    It looks so much nicer....Congrats on 1 week Anniversary!!!

    ~Dennis Junior~

  • Comment number 78.

    Re comment 73. " At 10:51pm on 08 Apr 2009, bowbrick wrote:

    @Cynikal...moi? Comments on this topic are distributed across several blog posts. This one plus this one: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radio4/2009/03/designing_the_new_radio_4_web.html this one: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radio4/2009/03/more_on_the_new_radio_4_web_si.html this one: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radio4/2009/03/the_countdown_has_begun.html and this one: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radio4/2009/03/the_new_radio_4_web_site.html. One of those posts has over 150 comments. That's probably the one you're thinking of.

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog "

    Thanks for the clarification Steve, but this raises yet another issue regarding the new website.
    Why is felt necessary to have 4 separate blog threads on basically the same topic?

    Oh, by the way the last link that you included is broken...
    This unfortunately speaks volumes about the issues that have been raised previously regarding the site's (lack of) functionality.

  • Comment number 79.

    @perfectsix Thanks for a very useful comment. Lots of good stuff in there - all of which is listened to, I can assure you- both here at the blog and across the road in Broadcasting House where the interactive team resides.

    You are, as you've pointed out, now searching a database of programmes - I think everyone who maintains a web site at the BBC has concluded that's the only sustainable way to maintain big, content-rich sites now. Especially when you imagine how much richer they're going to get over time.

    The conclusion is that the mechanical business of 'programme support' as it's called should be done by computers so that it's comprehensive and so that hard-pressed editorial staff can concentrate on creating proper content for the new templates. And the wider, more flexible layout makes it possible for programme teams - In Our Time, Analysis, File on Four etc. etc. - to be more creative and provide more of the context (and quirkiness!) for programmes that we love.

    I've only worked at the BBC for a few months but I'm enough of a Radio 4 junkie to have been using Radio 4 sites since the very first one in about 1996 (in fact, I helped build the first one, but that's another story) so I can remember the fuss at each of the previous redesigns (although seven years ago the web was so much more of a minority pursuit!). I am personally certain that a combination of constructive feedback and ideas from users (here and elsewhere) and ongoing design and testing will get the site right for us all.

    Jem Stone put together a gallery of previous Radio 4 home pages, by the way. Fascinating: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jemstone/sets/72157616156486528/

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog

  • Comment number 80.

    @Cynikal...moi? It's a good question. But I'd argue for keeping the current admittedly quite messy arrangement with multiple posts. It's a blog after all and blogs are reverse-chronological records of events - when you scroll down you're rewinding events.

    It's difficult to imagine collapsing blog posts from different dates into a single document - you wouldn't get the sense of the passage of time. Besides, our blogging platform is a very simple one and I couldn't make it do that if I wanted to!

    Also, the broken URL speaks less about 'the issues that have been raised previously' and more about my typing. I typed a full stop on the end of the final URL which broke it! Try this: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radio4/2009/03/the_new_radio_4_web_site.html

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog

  • Comment number 81.

    #76

    @jubarb

    Go to this link and use it as a bookmark and you will never be without anything Archers ever again ... ever!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/search/?q=Archers

  • Comment number 82.

    I am not against the introduction of new tecnology,what has amazed me is that BBC has allowed this new site to be introduced with all its flaws.Surely it should have been tried and tested before using it.

  • Comment number 83.

    @evertoned: In these web 2.0 days, it is actually common practice to soft-launch a new site with the word "beta" on it and then quickly fix the problems (as is happening here) so you can then "hard launch" the site again when everything is fixed.

    If it were me, I would have added an "Archive" button to the top level navigation for the first few months linking to a list of all the content that is not transferred into the new site.

  • Comment number 84.

    @ Briantist Thank you for the explanation.I appreciate it

  • Comment number 85.

    I cant find the programs I want- took me ages to find In our time- really frustrating!

  • Comment number 86.

    @zoetroped: Clicking on the picture of Melvyn gets it for me...

  • Comment number 87.

    @evertoned: The idea is that the site should not just be a collection of static pages (the "brochure" metaphor), but be a platform to build content onto.

    By moving all the Radio 4 programmes into the "/programmes" structure, this allows the BBC to have a consitant structure to build the whole of bbc.co.uk, providing a common navigation system over the whole site. This is at the behest of the BBC Trust.

    So the "programmes" and "schedules" sections are common over the whole of bbc.co.uk, with the Radio 4 "look and feel" for programmes on this station.

    The benefit of this system is that the whole system is dynamic.

    Before, someone had to be employed to cut and paste (and sometimes edit) data between the BBC Scheduling system, the website and the "Listen again" system.

    By having a common system for the whole of scheduling, iPlayer and the website people can be deployed to do proper editorial work, not cut-and-paste operations.

    So, for example, if the /programmes pages are updated to include a new feature (say a "comments, corrections and complaints" item) to the a type of page, it would appear on all pages in the system, benefiting all users.

    Another example is regionlization (aka "geocoding"). When you view the bbc.co.uk site from outside the UK, you get advertisments and also realplayer access to iPlayer, not Flash/WindowsMedia.



    It seems to me that Radio 4 could do with a programme series about software development. Where's the commisioner's number?

  • Comment number 88.

    @Briantist,again thank you,it is so technical to me.I live in Crete and realy on programmes from the BBC,mainly for news.Again thank you for taking the time to explain things

  • Comment number 89.

    @evertoned: Glad it helps.

    I love Crete. I'm quite proud of my Chania harbour picture that's on wikipedia.. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Chania_Old_Harbour.jpg

  • Comment number 90.

    @bowbrick Thanks very much for your response - it is appreciated. I do agree that the database driven approach is the right one, but it would be good if it didn't LOOK quite so database driven in places!

    Yes you are right - I remember fuss about various redesigns too - including other BBC websites. These days the fuss is so much more visible and immediate because of blogs - that HAS to be a good thing, but I guess it also has the potential to be useful, frustrating and dispiriting in equal measure for people your end.

    I am encouraged that you and others are listening to what is being said and I look forward to developments (but please give us a slightly less chunky site, with a less shouty ad-box!).

  • Comment number 91.

    Bowbrick
    #65
    Sorry, I really can't be bothered cutting and pasting all those URLs You would get the same effect doing it yourself, so, no point.
    I tried various things which were "broken" last night and they are still broken plus lots of others.
    I conclude that this problem is actually to do with line speed, BBC server capacity and the popularity of certain programs as:
    -only a few people seem to be affected
    and
    - it is always with the most popular programs or those at the top of the lists or those on the front page.
    I have visions of an army of monkeys desperately loading cassette tapes into a wall of ancient Sony portable cassette players (the kind with curly leatherette covers and thin impractical shoulder straps) held together with sellotape, though I'm sure this is not true and anyway the whole internet is a bit like that.
    So thanks for the effort and now I'm going back to my cave.

  • Comment number 92.

    I am an unwilling exile from the UK, suffering from ME/CFS. ' listen again' was my lifeline, as I cannot get broadband and therefore podcasts.
    Could we not all ask , nay beg, for the A-Z 'listen again' page to be reinstalled. Then, once more, we can browse and look for our favourites. They can keep all the fancy stuff as well.
    Can internet users strike? I'd like to suggest mass action, I am so upset. this was 50% of my 'life' , now almost impossible to access.
    Has anyone found an easy way to browse and find lovely stuff, as in the good old days of March?

  • Comment number 93.

    ...and I assume that the reason the problem is showing up now is because of the sudden popularity brought on by your shiny new web site.
    So, well done chaps. Spiffing job. Victims of your own popularity at last.

  • Comment number 94.

    How smug I feel - I thought it might only be me who finds the new design to be a disaster - it is so bad guys - as a previous contributor said, I’m finding it hard to get the comedy/drama programs I used to regularly listen to.

    It's quite Ironic that my other favorite station Planet Rock has had months of issues (still ongoing) with their new layout too.

    Digital Revolution? Well some sites are revolting....

  • Comment number 95.

    Leigh Aspin wrote "there isn't a consensus across the feedback we've received".

    Have you taken a look at Steve Bowbrick's post at http://www.flickr.com/photos/bowbrick/3406435527/in/photostream/ ?????????

    of the 87 postings he's analysed, 50% were negative. If you take out the "neutral" postings, 80% were negative. I know these were early day postings but then you'd expect to receive most comments in the early days.

    Perhaps you could analyse the postings on the multitude of blogs on this issue (why so many?!?!?) and let us know

    How many positive.
    How many negative
    How many neutral
    How many technical issues

    but then again WHY BOTHER?
    I've come to recognise a pattern amongst BBC personnel. Never admit a mistake.

    Justs image the newspaper headlines....... "£millions wasted as Radio 4 is forced to admit new website was a mistake"

  • Comment number 96.

    It slowly gets worse,
    Today I'm greeted by huge picture
    of Mark Steele. At least his face is
    clickable.. taking me to another page,
    which tells me what?
    A whole lot of nothing but I do
    have a button to listen to it.
    So why not have a button to listen
    to it on the front page. Maybe
    lose some of the real estate of that
    huge face. I don't want to read
    about the program I just want to listen
    to it. Joy oh joy of course the program
    now does not play.

    I dig around trying
    to find my favorites to discover less
    and less will play.

    "This content does not seem to be working please try again later" !!!!

    You guys are wearing my mouse out.

    Can you take the photographers budget away and spend it on functionality.
    We love the creativity of the people
    on Radio4 not what they look like.

    For those of you who are interested as well as those
    who have no comments to make but would like to make
    your voice heard vote here. http://www.vizu.com/vot/Entertainment/BBC/RADIO4/RADIO/poll-vote.html?n=157092

    I have read the BBC blog and message board external links Editorial Guidelines page and this link is not in violation of those guidelines.

    I just want to listen to my favorite Radio 4 programmes... Come home have a cup of tea and listen to the afternoon play.

    If you hear screaming .. it's me.. I just
    got "This content does not seem to be working please try again later" !!!!
    again... and again.

  • Comment number 97.

    the front page is rather confusing - it constantly advertises first of all, a programme I have already missed - which is irritating. Presumably the colour bars underneath are relevant in some way but I do not know how. None of the highlit programmes in the main screen advertise when they are being broadcast - that is truly weird - do you not want us to listen to them?

  • Comment number 98.

    The new website seems to contain less than half the information that the old did and when I Do manage to find the afternoon play im only offered three choices . And I have had to jump thru the web hoops to comment . What's someone going to do break in and fraudulently post an opinion thats not really mine. the last site was luxuriousl by comparison.

  • Comment number 99.

    This is really hopeless - nothing loads properly, I have to use pod casts to listen to most episodes of the Archers and I have waited ALL week to listen to the last episode of Daunt and Dervish but it will NEVER load. Now it tells me I have only 12 hours left to listen.

    Do you actually understand how frustrating it is to miss the last episode of a series. It simply makes me not want to bother trying anything else.

    Radio 4 is doing itself massive harm with such incredibly poor service. I don't see any signs whatsoever of any attempt at improvement in spite of hundreds and hundreds of complaints.

  • Comment number 100.

    What I'm missing is the "What's on now" feature at the top of the page. Usually I log into the bbc/radio4 homepage, see what's on at the moment and then decide whether to listen to that or "listen again" to something else. Now it seems I have to start the "listen live" screen first and only then I see what's on.

 

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