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Even more feedback

Steve Herrmann Steve Herrmann | 18:24 UK time, Friday, 4 April 2008

Thanks again for all your comments about the new-look BBC News website. We’ve been going through them, collating them and feeding these thoughts into our work. I’ve addressed some of the points in my previous post, but I just wanted to let you know we have been paying attention.

A graphic of the new look BBC News websiteWe’ve tightened up the white spacing on stories and indexes – this was one thing a lot of you mentioned. The masthead and banner area of the page, specifically how the black BBC masthead works in conjunction with the current News banner, was another common theme, and we’ve asked the design team to look into this.

The masthead will soon incorporate a BBC-wide navigation area, so will be an important way of getting to other parts of the BBC website – radio, TV and much else – which is something people clearly want to be able to do easily (including those who miss the tabs that used to be on the international edition of the site).

To those who like it all, that is great to hear so thank you for letting us know. To others, we’re continuing to work on developing the site in the coming weeks and months, so please don’t see this as the end of the story.

Lastly, apologies to anyone who’s tried to post here and had difficulty – there have been ongoing problems with leaving comments on BBC blogs, including this one. Jem Stone on the BBC Internet Blog has explained our plans for improving this.


  • 1.
  • At 10:43 PM on 04 Apr 2008,
  • diatom wrote:

With a heavy heart, I am no longer setting my home page to BBC. I will check back to see how the online news service is shaping up, but for now, you are not providing the quality news service I am accustomed to. Bonne chance.

  • 2.
  • At 01:04 AM on 05 Apr 2008,
  • Simon Byrne wrote:

It's great that you have taken so many of the comments on board. I agree with many of the earlier comments that it was a bit too loose and light feeling at first.

There is a small bug I have found, whenever there is an image midway through a story page. The paragraph text directly to the left of it doesn't get a P tag added around it, and so the font shows smaller. It does in Safari, at least. An example is here:
(to the left of the "Campaign posters are being taken down" image).

In terms of other suggestions, I think the right hand sidebar could do with being a little narrower, and then for the 2nd and 3rd top story picture highlights to have larger images, the same size images as the row-of-three lower down the page. Currently these major stories look less prominent than the row-of-three highlights slightly lower down the page.

And the section near the bottom of the page that lists "Around the UK now", "Around the World now" etc. - these headers are lost in my opinion, and this area looks a bit muddy because of it. Maybe just making these section headings bold would sort the balance out?

Whether you take my comments on board or not, I really like the new BBC site redesign. It's much cleaner.

  • 3.
  • At 01:31 AM on 05 Apr 2008,
  • David Pothecary wrote:

So the implementation of the majority of the "refresh" was, for want of a better word, botched.

Why was it released when it was only half finished?

  • 4.
  • At 06:17 AM on 05 Apr 2008,
  • Robbie Robertson wrote:

One of the changes I find disappointing is the single item now appearing under each section instead of 3 or 4 as in the past.Before I could glance over the sectionsand get some idea of their coverage, now I have to drill down into each section separately to achieve the same result.

  • 5.
  • At 11:05 AM on 05 Apr 2008,
  • Carolyn wrote:

I have used the BBC News wesbite for years. On return from holiday this week I noticed some design changes. What bothers me is that I can no longer navigate the site as I used to. I'm on Mac OS9 and you have changed something your end so that now, when I click on a headline to read the story, only the headline comes up, no pic and no text. I can read the text only by clicking on "printable version" which is no fun.
I went on some of the links to find out what I might do but the "changes to our site" page simply froze my Mac.
Your site is my most-used and simply the best but won't be unless I can go back to the old ways. What have you changed to create this problem? And what can be done?

  • 6.
  • At 12:36 PM on 05 Apr 2008,
  • Kevin Jardine wrote:

Thanks for listening! The changes are a definite improvement.

Good to see the minor change on the vertical white space has been carried out. It looks better for it. However, for me I still think it could do with another small tweak, but it is better than when first released.

It will be interesting to see the response to the new masthead navigation tool. From the JPEG I looked at, it seems that it should provide many of the shortcuts(and more) that for the time being have gone.

1600+ comments on the main changes! That is a really long list of comments, but it does show that many do care about the changes. Have you done an analysis to determine the 'I like it' vs 'I hate it' ratio? It would be interesting to see what that outcome was.

I still am in favour of the overall changes, it makes for a much fresher looking site. Looking forward to seeing the other changes in the pipeline and good to see that notice is being taken of the comments and feedback from site visitors.


  • 8.
  • At 07:46 PM on 05 Apr 2008,
  • chris robinson wrote:

This is the 4th time I have tried to post a comment. I agree with all those who are unhappy with the new style web site.

I particularly dislike having to scroll down the page and hope you will remedy this. And what is wrong with a black type face?

Compare this page that I am looking at now - Steve Herriman's text is clear and easy. The grey on beige in the right hand column is not.

Please don't try to be clever - just make it easy!

  • 9.
  • At 06:20 AM on 06 Apr 2008,
  • Dave Dryden wrote:

You used to have the best news website in the whole world, the envy of many other providers. Now it is appalling. Horrible to look at and at a screen resolution that requires one to move the scroll bars all the time. I have no idea of why you decided to change. Was it some senior exec trying to make a name for
themselves ? The best thing you could do is scrap it and go back to the original format before you loose any more viewers.
There is an old engineering saying “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”.

  • 10.
  • At 06:39 AM on 06 Apr 2008,
  • Michiel Sweere wrote:

The new website feels like reading through a looking-glass, it's just terrible. Please provide a link to the old layout.

  • 11.
  • At 08:16 AM on 06 Apr 2008,
  • Kevin Jardine wrote:

Thanks for listening! The changes are a definite improvement.

  • 12.
  • At 08:40 AM on 06 Apr 2008,
  • Paul Mundy wrote:

When I click on a news story, I get a massive black box with an advertisement at the top of the screen. Plus the BBC black banner, plus the BBC News red banner. All this garbage takes up at least two-fifths of the screen. It's ugly, unnecessary, and a pain. If you do nothing else to improve the design, at least deal with this!
Why don't you just go back to the old design? It was much better. About the only improvement is the embedded video, but even that's a mixed blessing, as I live in an area without broadband, and the video is very jerky.

  • 13.
  • At 10:25 AM on 06 Apr 2008,
  • Trickyflyingdave wrote:

I prefered the old layout. The new page is ill defined.

  • 14.
  • At 12:55 PM on 06 Apr 2008,
  • Martin Kirk wrote:

When I view the site using Firefox, the first paragraph next to pictures in articles comes out in a much smaller font. (I have a screenshot if anyone wants it.) I suspect it may be something to do with the fact that none of the paragraphs have closing tags, and the

tag for the small paragraph comes before the inserted image, rather than after it.

  • 15.
  • At 06:23 PM on 06 Apr 2008,
  • Homeri wrote:

Have you tried using an iPod touch (or iPhone, for that matter), to access the site? If you do, you will see the results of sloppy code, a wide, blank column of wasted space at the right. So far, this is the only news website that does this. (I regularly visit The New York Times and CNN.)

  • 16.
  • At 07:14 AM on 07 Apr 2008,
  • Muhammad Adil wrote:

Everything is great except one thing, and that is that to see "Most Popular Now" i have to go to main page and its not appearing on every page and under every story.

  • 17.
  • At 08:50 AM on 07 Apr 2008,
  • Steve wrote:

Thanks for listening and for showing that you are willing to take on board user feedback, despite the unremittingly negative and arrogant tone of many people who posted here. I'm glad the BBC shows the maturity to rise above it.

  • 18.
  • At 08:59 AM on 07 Apr 2008,
  • Luke wrote:

I have to say, I'm really getting used to the new layout!

The white spacing around links is already better, and it's good to know you're going to be looking at other ways of combining the news banner with the black BBC masthead.

Thanks for taking these things on board.

  • 19.
  • At 09:06 AM on 07 Apr 2008,
  • Steve wrote:

In answer to Chris Robinson (post 8 at the time of writing) asking "what is wrong with a black type face?"

Ask anyone involved in web usability and they'll tell you that black text on a white background can become notoriously difficult to read after a while. The contrast is simply too harsh and tires the eyes a lot quicker than dark grey text on white (or black on a different colour background).

That doesn't of course mean that the grey the BBC chose was necessarily the correct one (although it looks great on my screen) but that doesn't alter the fact that black would be a big mistake.

  • 20.
  • At 09:24 AM on 07 Apr 2008,
  • ChrisJK wrote:

I still glance at the almost readable page at - unfortunately that is only UK headlines.

I find the large, faint, wide-spaced layout of the site's articles tiring and inefficient.

I'm now reading the online Independent and news articles instead. Neither are as good as the old BBC News format - but both are better than the current BBC News format.

  • 21.
  • At 09:25 AM on 07 Apr 2008,
  • Stuart wrote:

I really liked the redesign, but it now seems to have been gutted because of complaints from those who seem to hate any kind of change. No doubt they are also moaning about the new coins. A new clean look now appears cluttered, as it used to.

  • 22.
  • At 09:42 AM on 07 Apr 2008,
  • Ray wrote:

I think the design is a big improvement personally.

It's no longer a relic of the old squashed up days, stuck to the left hand side. It looks cleaner and, on the whole, easier to read.

The story pages look much better, aside from a small glitch where the text wraps around images (that paragraph seems to shrink in my browser - Firefox).

Other than that - well done! It was about time the BBC News website did this.

  • 23.
  • At 09:42 AM on 07 Apr 2008,
  • Andy K wrote:

I wish that one of the things that had been changed had been moving from fixed width to variable width. I actually like the style of the new design, but I cannot stand websites (any sites) that use fixed over variable width.
The old site was forgiveable, as it was left-aligned.

Universal Navigation or not, the top black masthead really is a pain - especially when each section has its own masthead. And double-especially when, like me, you tend to know where you're going on the site. That's useful screen real-estate taken up by something I'll never use. "Good design"...?

What would be nice (unlikely, but nice) would be a login system where you could customise certain settings. Like whether you see the top masthead, and numbers of headlines it pulls in from sections and things like that.

But please, first and foremost, make it variable width. Make the site scale depending on how wide or narrow the screen I'm using at the time is. (I use multiple computers over the course of the day)

  • 24.
  • At 10:09 AM on 07 Apr 2008,
  • Phil Thomas wrote:

Please get the HTML right. Like Martin Kirk says in his comment there are a number of pages where a section's font appears very small in Firefox.

From the ones I have looked at it is because there is no paragraph tag prior to the text. For example this page

(at the time of writing) has a section of text that appears smaller than all the other text "In the singles chart, Flo Rida..." this is because the HTML tag directly preceding this text is a /table tag and there is no P tag prior to the text.

Firefox is displaying the page correctly for the HTML is has been given but the HTML is poorly coded.

I have seen lots of pages like this and it is very amateurish.

  • 25.
  • At 10:18 AM on 07 Apr 2008,
  • Bryan wrote:

Well, here we go again with the nth attempt to post a comment to your blog. I have tried on and off to contribute here for months with no success.

Why can't you simply have a comment system like that of Have Your Say? They don't publish all comments but at least the comment goes through into the "Moderation Queue" without the infuriating "timing out" and error messages that have become a regular feature of The Editors.

In common with many hundreds of others who have commented, I feel you have sacrificed functionality for style. In any event the old style was fine - practical, functional and user-friendly. Now you have less information in more space, and we have to scroll all over the place to see what is on the page.

You have published well over two thousand comments over the past week or so on the articles you have written on the new design, most of them, whether negative or positive, expressing intense personal identification with the BBC website. And who knows how many other comments people tried to submit but couldn't.

Now if only people were that passionate about the content of the site - the careful political correctness, the implacable left wing agenda and the pet hates and bias revealed through omission and distortion of facts.

Then we might be getting somewhere.

  • 26.
  • At 10:59 AM on 07 Apr 2008,
  • Peter Griffiths wrote:

Your site is still painful to read.

It might be worth you taking a look at your own (at least the BBC's) Standards and Guidelines and implement the ones you have ignored.

In case you don't know, you can find them here:

  • 27.
  • At 11:38 AM on 07 Apr 2008,
  • James wrote:

The debate about the type of layout (fixed/fluid) is far from being as resolved as some people seen to think it is.

Due to my line of work, I'm familiar with pretty much all the arguments for/against both, and on balance, I would say that fixed width is more practical for a site like BBC News.

Fluid is great in principle. But in practice, I can see how it would involve sacrificing a lot of design and usability.

The BBC website is not the same as a business website or a local council website. It has vastly different layout requirements, and people will browse it in an entirely different way.

CNN, Sky, CBS, Fox, etc - from what I can tell, all the major news network sites are fixed width. As are this country's newspaper sites - Times, Telegraph, Indie, etc.

If you think people are complaining a lot about spacing and legibility now, trust me that's nothing compared with what would happen if you decided to listen to some of these people and go fluid!

  • 28.
  • At 06:08 PM on 07 Apr 2008,
  • Scott wrote:

I actually don't mind the new news site - it needs a few tweaks such as font colour and some more stories on the homepage - but I cetainly find it better than the sport sister site which I find messy and disorganised.

However, I've got to say that the 'Breaking News' mode looks ridiculous. Theres a picture of Diana taking up more than half my screen. I wouldn't care if the picture was particularly significant or telling - but its just a regular Diana picture. It just looks stupid - like the front page of the Sun or something.

  • 29.
  • At 07:37 PM on 07 Apr 2008,
  • Scooter Wilson wrote:

Hi, I am finding your newly redesigned news website very annoying. Not
only does it look a lot more ugly on the page than the old website with
two great big BBC logos on top of each other on the top of the page but
everything is more spread out and harder to get to.It looks more basic
than the old version. The news menu on the left doesn't fit onto one
page without scrolling which means if i want the weather or sport I have
to press an extra key to scroll down. Then it is the same when you enter
a news page, with all the text much more spread out than with the old
site meaning again more keystrokes and more effort. I have used the site
a lot less since it came online finding other more compact news websites
like Google more easy to use. Why can't you make the news site more
customisable for the user. Then we could choose whether we want spread
out, large print or could choose a more compact version with smaller
text. You could also customise it to show on the front page the!
stories and menus you as a user were interested in, such as local
stories, weather, key-word searches etc.

Two other points I would like answering if possible:
1. Why does the BBC spy on my computer even though its content isn't
personalised and there is no personal log in which provides a good
reason for other sites to use cookies to make it easer for the user to log
on. I can't use it when I have a cookie disabler turned on which makes
me think the BBC has sinister intentions. Why does the BBC want to plant
cookies on my screen at all? 2. The screen is a lot harder on the eye
being brighter with harder to read grey text and more white background.
Why the decision to go for grey text?

  • 30.
  • At 07:42 PM on 07 Apr 2008,
  • Chris wrote:

With regard to the above comments about the pages where a section's font appears very small in Firefo - the same thing happens in Safari 3, running the latest version of Webkit.

  • 31.
  • At 09:47 PM on 07 Apr 2008,
  • Rob wrote:

I'm sorry but I feel driven to post a comment by the HUGE princess diana picture on the front page at 21:40 on 07/04. Exactly which type of reader benefits from a picture on a news page taking up approximately 50% of the width of the screen and perhaps 33% of height?

I can see a handful of stories when I quickly view the front page when previously I could see a multiple of this.

I can see a single story per region/category in the lower half of the page when previously I could see 3 per region/category.

Your business is news, your readers are looking for news when they visit your site yet you have removed probably 2/3 of the visible stories from the front page. I dispair that presentation rather than provision of news appears now to be your primary concern.

Please restyle the site as you see fit but don't cut back on the content!

  • 32.
  • At 11:07 PM on 07 Apr 2008,
  • Mike wrote:

When a "large" story (like the Diana inquest) takes up the bulk of the main page, I can now only see 4 items of news to link to! This is far harder to navigate, unfortunately. The same problem applies to giving only one story under each section link - it's now necessary to browse all the sections individually to check if there's a major piece of news which has been relegated to 2nd or 3rd spot in that section due to an event I'm not interested in browsing to.

  • 33.
  • At 06:31 AM on 08 Apr 2008,
  • sue hewitt wrote:

well, it is a bit better now that some of the white has gone. but still too much scolling around and the suspicion remains that this has been a cost cutting exercise to reduce the number of news items necessary to populate the site.
sadly this site has gone from a 'must read first' to a 'maybe i'll check the bbc'. please can we go back to where we were?

  • 34.
  • At 07:12 AM on 08 Apr 2008,
  • Beryl wrote:

Two days after the new site introduction BBC sent me a delayed April Fool --- I can no longer activate any links from the main web page on my veteran iMac. I get the headline and after that just a blank page. I have no problem with any other news site. Help, please!

  • 35.
  • At 08:07 AM on 08 Apr 2008,
  • Bethan Davies wrote:

Thanks for responding. The decreased whitespace is a big improvement in readability; it's now almost as usable as the old design. The other problems remain though. When viewing the site on my Eee, I have to scroll horizontally, deal with broken HTMl and scroll past the enormous masthead with multiple BBC logos. Please also count my vote for replacing the "ticker" with static text. It's good (I suppose) to have a nice looking page, but when I use it every day I'd rather have something functional.

  • 36.
  • At 08:22 AM on 08 Apr 2008,
  • Chris Neil wrote:

At 11:05 AM on 05 Apr 2008, Carolyn wrote:
I have used the BBC News wesbite for years. On return from holiday this week I noticed some design changes. What bothers me is that I can no longer navigate the site as I used to. I'm on Mac OS9 and you have changed something your end so that now, when I click on a headline to read the story, only the headline comes up, no pic and no text. I can read the text only by clicking on "printable version" which is no fun.
I went on some of the links to find out what I might do but the "changes to our site" page simply froze my Mac.
I am in exactly the same position as Carolyn. I used the BBC website for news more than any other site, but now all I get are blank screens.

This is on the back of the iPlayer being released that would only function with Windows and in the area of the UK I live there are no BBC stations available on digital until switchover and the local radio station is not available on DAB.

The exact HTML problem is that the table containing the image that is floated to the right is being written out inside the paragraph. As a p element can only contain inline elements the browser is closing the p element before the table; the following text is then no longer in a p element and not picking up the appropriate styles. The best fix is to change the behaviour so as not to write out tables inside p elements, but an alternative fix would be to move the font-size styling from targeting p elements directly, to targeting the .storybody table cell.

Good to see these issues addressed.

Will the problems with the iPhone / iPod Touch version also be fixed ? This re-write of the site has made it a lot more difficult to use on this platform.

  • 39.
  • At 02:56 PM on 08 Apr 2008,
  • SDJ wrote:

Still Rubbish

Old site back PLEASE

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