BBC News website redesign (1)
In the next week or so, we'll be making some improvements to the design and layout of the BBC News website.
Since our launch in 1997, we've worked to make sure the site continues to develop to meet your needs and expectations. This is the latest stage in that process of evolution.
We have focused on design and navigation, looking to see how we can make all the existing content we produce each day easier for you to find, use and share. I'd like to use this post to offer you a first glimpse; you can see a slideshow here.
• a fresh, updated design, with more space for the main stories of the day
• better use of video and images
• clearer and more prominent labelling and signposting of key stories, whether you are on the front page or a story page
• a better indication of which are the most recent headlines
• easier ways to share stories with others, for those who wish to
Some things are staying the way they are:
• all the same content is still there: the best of the BBC's journalism in text, audio and video
• the latest news headlines will be as quick and comprehensive as ever
• accuracy remains at the core of our editorial values
• we've been careful to keep things simple and easy to use; you have told us how important this is
Millions of people use the site every day and there's clearly a lot that's working fine. But having asked users for input and looked at the way the site is working for them, we decided we could improve in some areas:
• indicating to those who arrive at the site straight on to a story page what else is latest and best
• providing more ways into video features and clips
• indicating which are the latest published stories
• making local news from around the UK easier to find
This has led us to the biggest rethink of the design of the site since 2003.
So, here's a summary of the main things to expect later this month:
New look: More space for the main stories of the day, video and pictures. We have moved the navigation from the left-hand side of the page to the top to give more space for stories and for bigger images and video. We will also be able to indicate on the front page if any of our top three stories have relevant related content.
Clearer labelling: More prominent labelling and highlighting of different types of content so you can pick them out quickly on any page.
Story pages: On story pages, we're placing the day's top stories and features alongside the story so that however you arrive on the site, you can quickly see the main content of the day. Related articles and collected further reading will be placed within and at the bottom of stories; we think in-depth analysis and context will fit better there than in the right-hand column where it has lived to date.
Video: A bigger video player, streaming with better quality. We'll place that at the top of the front page, because video is one of the key elements in what we provide and we want to make sure people don't miss it. On video pages, there will be more options for other video highlights, arranged by section as well as by popularity, so that those who want to watch more video won't have to look far to find it.
Latest: The most recently published stories will be flagged on the front page with a "New" badge.
Sharing: Links that allow users more quickly and simply to share stories with friends on social networks including Facebook and Twitter.
Two final things:
We are also launching a new edition of the site aimed at users in North America, coinciding with the changes to our design.
If you are in the US or Canada, you will automatically see a North America edition of the BBC News website, once the redesigned site goes live. Other international users will continue to see the current international edition.
The North America edition will still contain all our existing content, including the full range of coverage from the UK, and news from around the world. Our editorial team in the BBC's Washington DC office will tailor the front page of this edition accordingly, working to provide the most relevant and timely news and analysis for users in North America.
We are doing this after listening extensively to what our users in the US and Canada have said, and with the backing of the BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, which funds our online service internationally.
And we've done something which will be less obvious to you, but hugely important to the journalists working on the site. We've completely rebuilt the content production system (CPS) which we use to create content and run the site. The new version of the CPS is designed to be easier to use and - crucially when we want to get stories out to you fast - quicker too. It's also built to be more flexible, so it should be easier to keep the site evolving, and to produce the content in ways that work well on other platforms, such as mobile.
So that's a whistle-stop tour with the headlines of what to look out for soon. For the moment, we're still busy training people and testing things. Once the redesigned site goes live, we'll be very keen to know what you think as you start using it. As well as some updates on Twitter, where I'll be using the hashtag #bbcnewssite, I'll be back at this blog to read your comments, answer questions and tell you in more detail about it.
Steve Herrmann is editor of the BBC News website.