« Previous | Main | Next »

Changes to The Archers website

Keri Davies Keri Davies | 08:59 AM, Wednesday, 27 July 2011

An example pf the new episode carousel

You will soon be seeing some enhancements to this website.

The Archers site was relaunched in its current format in December 2010. Since then we've been working with the digital agency Airlock (who produced this version of the site) and our colleagues in the BBC's Future Media division to make some more improvements.

As well as lots of small bug fixes and bits of minor housekeeping, the most noticeable differences will include the following:

Homepage: Rather than the current way of displaying the week's episodes, with a selection of tabs along the top, we'll be introducing a carousel (like the one that Desert Island Discs uses). This form of presentation is now the BBC standard way of offering this sort of material.

On the message board: We display a selected quote here, and it will now be easier to get to the quoted post on the message board, or the thread that the post is from.

Who's Who page: It will be easier to get to the Timeline from here.

Timeline: There are several improvements to how you move around the Timeline. We've also corrected the bug where, if a date of birth for a character isn't known, it defaulted to 1 January 1971.

There will also be a new 'accessible' version of the Timeline, which will be offered automatically to users who don't have Flash on their computer. This should be particularly useful to visually impaired people who are using a screen reader.

Storyline pages: We'll be able to illustrate these with one or more audio clips, presented in a carousel so you can easily see and select the one you want to hear. We'll also be able to include video if we have any relevant moving pictures.

Discuss page: We've improved the way we display selected 'tweets' from Twitter. URLs (web page addresses) and hashtags (like #TheArchers) will be links, so you'll be able to click on them to see the quoted page, or more posts with the same hashtag. We'll be displaying the author's Twitter profile picture as well.

Characters and locations in the current episode: Currently this features on the homepage and the Who's Who page, but we won't be offering this facility any more. This is the only aspect that can't actually be called an improvement, but producing these turned out to be quite labour-intensive work for what we perceived to be only a modest benefit to users.

It will still be very easy to find characters, actors and locations by using the search boxes on the Who's Who page and Ambridge Map page.

Mobile site: We hope to have fixed the bug in which some browsers returned the mobile version of the site, instead of the desktop version.

Now these publicly visible improvements are done, we'll be turning our attention to the back end, improving the ease with which we can update and maintain the site. Once that's delivered, I've got a few content improvements I'd like to make (for example in the family tree area).

I hope you approve of these changes. When they go live, do let us know what you think.


  • Comment number 1.

    But STILL no link to DTA message board?
    Why not?
    Given the pitiful number of people who comment on any of TA blogs it might be good for TA PR to direct listeners to a place where they can discuss, enjoy, laugh with / at, seriously weigh issues and thus build up loyalty to the programme.

    Why is the BBC being so doggedly blinkered and apparently self-destructive over its attitude to how good and useful the message board could be to advancing the accessibility of the programme? ? Inexplicable.

  • Comment number 2.

    I agree 100% with Post No 1.
    These changes are of no interest to me whatsoever and I suspect they are of minimal interest to most Archers listeners.

  • Comment number 3.

    It does seem a bit of a pointless and presumably expensive exercise.

  • Comment number 4.

    Keri old chap, what on earth is a "carousel" in this context - it is not evident from the DiD site, and I am presuming we shall not see wooden horses bouncing around the site, nor receive an earful of some of Rogers & Hammerstein's best?

    Quite agree with Dracs - if you're getting Airlock to do some work on the site, for heaven's sake get them to change the "Blog" tab to "MessageBoard" - afterall, Blog is already referenced (& left largely uncommented on) via the Discuss tab.

    Would be fascinated to know the footfall for this site, what numbers visit which pages, how many lurk on the boards and how many post - any chance of some figures, please?

    Many thanks


  • Comment number 5.

    I think the "carousel" is the slidy thing in the middle of the DiD site- you get a horizontal series of items, some of which are out of sight off the edge of the frame, and little left and right arrows to move them into view.

    The change I would like to see is the site using the full screen width, not just a band down the middle of my screen. About 60% of my screen width is wasted using the current layout.

  • Comment number 6.

    Mr Keri
    Will it make any (negative) difference for those of us who use the message board or can we relax?
    Dougal's Servant

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi Dougal

    These changes won't affect the message board.


  • Comment number 8.

    Dear Mr Davies,

    Just what is the point of all of this?

    It seems to me to be an extension of the Message Board(s), and not a blog in any sense.

    It has the massive downside of the dreadful pictures - destructive, as they are, of life long mental images.

    If you must waste time and money is it not beyond the wit of internet nerds to include a toggle to turn the pictures on/off?

  • Comment number 9.

    Get the messageboard format back to it's readable version.
    Provide a link on the front page to Discuss the Archers.
    Update the timeline and family tree.
    Cost half of what this unfathomable tinkering did and actually please the people who use this site.
    NOBODY bothers with the blogs as the number of comments would show. How much more feedback does anybody need except the fact they are graveyards?

  • Comment number 10.

    So instead of seeing all the available episodes in a single screen, and being able to pick one from a tab, I'll have to click through an annoying scrolling list until I find the episode I want? How exactly is that 'better'?

    The BBC is wasting far too much money constantly fiddling with the website. We want access to the content, but most people quickly figure out how to find what they want. When you change the interface, your visitors have to re-learn. That doesn't improve customer service.

    There is a difference between adding jquery and flash because it's the 'cool' thing to do, and adding value to your listeners.

    You really should engage the services of a User Interface specialist before you do any more fiddling with this site.

  • Comment number 11.

    I agree a carousel isn't the great thing to put up. I'd *much* rather have a simple list.

    And, though I understand that it's a labor-intensive item, the list of characters in an episode is immensely helpful to me. I've only recently begun listening, and I can't always immediately identify the characters from their voices without a hint. It will be more difficult to tell who's who without the list.

  • Comment number 12.

    I am smiling as I type this, because the always unpredictable arrival of the episode précis, each week is quite amusing. There's always an anodyne excuse, which assumes the recipient is as baffled by email issues, as the authors... 'Blimey, isn't the Internet a confusing thing?' Come on boys and girls, get a grip, and sort out your IT...

  • Comment number 13.

    I'm on leave at the moment, but I've just popped in. In response to:

    >Provide a link on the front page to Discuss the Archers.

    There has always been a very prominent home page promo for the message board. That's been enhanced to include a link to DTA itself as well as the post.

  • Comment number 14.

    I agree with @DracsM1 and others.

    I think it's strange that the Message Board is not more prominently displayed. At the moment you have to select 'discuss' and the message board link is tucked away halfway down the page.

    This seems odd when perhaps most visitors go to the message board section.

  • Comment number 15.

    Please repair the slurry lagoon, I can't wait for Ruth to fall in.

  • Comment number 16.

    So, NO Family trees at all?

    Poor, poor Alistair!

    Poor do all round, really.

  • Comment number 17.

    Hi RosieT

    There's been a problem with the Family Tree and it's in for repairs.


  • Comment number 18.

    Keri, I thought that since you have closed the Blog, where I raised the Alistair family tree anomalies a year and 3 months ago (having also raised the point, many, many times, when the FIRST inaccurate Family tree was put on the previous site) that this would be the place to raise the fact that there is no mention of correcting the “Hebden family” and other inaccuracies in the family tree.

    You head the piece with “You will soon be seeing some enhancements to this website.” You make no mention of correcting the errors which I and others have been rabbiting on about for years, in the family tree and the Who’s Who.
    These are things people have asked you about, and you do not seem to address in the Blog, but we get a vague comment about you wanting to make “improvements.”

    I am very sorry about this.

  • Comment number 19.

    Good to see you, Rosie, but I doubt you will get a response. These blogs are deader than dead

  • Comment number 20.

    Thanks, old bean.

    But I would expect Keri to be courteous enough to respond to my request, as to why he does not see that getting the family tree correct is more than an "enhancement" or "content improvements I'd like to make."

    Surely it is fundamental to the programme to have the "facts" in place? Not to have thought bubbles and incorrect cartoon maps with Lower Loxley plonked just anywhere?

  • Comment number 21.

    Seems you were right, bean.

    The Blog is a form of "Vanity Publishing."

    I did wonder.

  • Comment number 22.

    Any chance of an answer to WHEN the Family Tree update, promised for 4 years, will take place, please?

    It has been asked for repeatedly, but I seem to have missed the requests for the other "improvements" like a cartoon map with Lower Loxley on it.

  • Comment number 23.

    I have been an avid Archers follower for many years but if Brian Aldridge's 'cattle factory' goes ahead I shall be one less listener. This is an outrageous story line for the writers to include.

  • Comment number 24.

    Dear Sue,

    there are lots of reasons to be affronted by story lines in TA. They are often poorly thought out, badly researched and end up being forgotten.

    However the cow factory surely is not one of these. It is now. Cow factories are being installed in North America and Europe. Last week on Farming today, I think it was, there was a who;e piece about such factories in Denmark. The cattle in these produced an average of 11,000 litres of milk per annum compared with "conventional" dairying of around 7,000 litres.

    You might not like it, but this is the "now" in dairy farming, so why is it an outrageous story line to be included?

  • Comment number 25.

    >Any chance of an answer to WHEN the Family Tree update, promised for 4 years, will take place, please?

    I'm so sorry this reply has taken so long. I've been unable to post a comment on this thread, for some reason.

    Anyway, you may have noticed that we've withdrawn the family tree for the time being. We've had some technical challenges with this part of the site and rather than continue to portray an incomplete picture, we thought it best to sort it out 'behind the scenes'.

  • Comment number 26.

    What is actually quite revealing is how SWs check their stories - Rosie raises a very good point about Family Trees, a pretty important factor in such a close-knit family as the Archers, plus the bizarre relationships within both the Aldridges and Horrobins.

    I wonder if Mr K and others in The Mailbox ever reflect on why / how it is that listeners often - and I do mean often [ for Facebookers and twitterati, pray see the Message Boards passim] have a notably more accurate grasp of detail in terms of TA back history / events etc than the SW team does?



Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.