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Help us test the new Radio 3 homepage

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Steve Bowbrick Steve Bowbrick | 08:06 UK Time, Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Screenshot of the new BBC Radio 3 beta homepage, June 2012

We're testing a new homepage for Radio 3. For the next couple of months you'll see a link at the top of every Radio 3 web page. Click it and you'll see a test version of the new homepage (a 'beta' version, as the engineers call it) which will replace the current one later in the year. Try it out and tell us what you think by clicking the 'Feedback' tab on the right-hand side of the beta homepage or by leaving a comment here on the blog. If you're talking about the new design on Twitter, use the hashtag #bbcradiobeta so we can find your comments.

Radio 3's new homepage is part of a larger redesign for all of the BBC Radio web sites so you'll see links to beta homepages at the top of most sites from today (about 60 stations). Each has a different look and a different choice of links but there's a common design. It should be easier to find the content you're after and to talk to the stations you listen to.

You'll find a link at the top of the beta homepage to a useful introduction to the new radio homepages. Chris Kimber, who's the manager from the BBC's technology department leading the redesign, has written a detailed post for the BBC Internet blog and Mark Friend, Controller of BBC Audio & Music Interactive, the digital arm of BBC Radio, has also blogged.

The point of testing the homepage publicly in this way is to try different options and to get your reactions to them. We'll change the test page several times during the beta period and I'll blog here whenever we make a large change.

Some notes on the new look:

  • There's an improved 'Radio' navigation toolbar just below the top set of BBC-wide links which should make it easier for you to find specific programmes. Try clicking 'Programme Finder' and typing the name of a Radio 3 programme. This will be the best way, for instance, to find your favourite programme's playlist.
  • To begin with, the primary view of the new Radio 3 homepage is all about what's on-air right now and what's coming up (we call this the 'live tab') - you'll see a large image for the current programme and, next to it, two smaller ones for the next two programmes.
  • Just below these images, alongside the name of the programme you're listening to, you'll see links (or 'tabs') labelled 'Featured', 'Popular programmes' and 'Performance'. Each link loads a new panel on the homepage. This is where you'll find the regularly-changing content on the new homepage, updated daily. Try out these tabs (or click the big 'left' and 'right' arrows) and tell us what you think. They're the backbone of the new page.
  • Further down you'll see a group of red boxes with links to lots of other Radio 3 content and to our Twitter and Facebook accounts. These links are flexible and during the test period we'll try different options here. Let us know if you think we should be linking to something specific from one of the red boxes.

If you're able to help us test the new homepage, thank you. Your feedback is important.

Steve Bowbrick, Interactive Editor, BBC Radio 3


  • Comment number 1.

    I am visually impaired and after listening to the navigation information, it appears to be very visual with such comments as "bottom right hand corner". Screen reader navigation doesn't always follow the logic of visual navigation. Has this beta version been tested out with visually impaired users? And have you contacted the team at Radio 4 In Touch ??

    Look forward to your developments.

  • Comment number 2.

    Hi Steve,

    What I don't like about the new site is that it looks like all the others. As well as Radio 3, I also listen to 2, 4, 4 Extra, 5 Live, etc. - all very different stations with distinct personalities, but that's now lost in the new design.

    The new Radio 3 page seems rather soulless and uninviting compared to the current one. I'll be interested to see what other listeners think.

  • Comment number 3.

    Currently looking like the triumph of style over content - big and bold but not much on it at first glance.

    You display fairly prominently the 'promotional' sites like Facebook, Twitter and this blog, none of which appear to be widely used by listeners (is it a ploy to drum up more 'interactivity'?) and which themselves have a limited amount of information when you get to them. Pretty easy to find the way to book tickets for events too (fine if you live near enough to any of them to go).

    The schedule (with its click-through links to relevant programmes and playlists) has been the link I've gone to most often direct from the homepage and on the new version it's rather unobtrusive (looks unimportant).

    Under 'Category', I clicked on 'Drama' and was invited to 'Refine by sub-genre' (eh? Action & Adventure Biographical Classic & Period Crime Historical Horror & Supernatural Legal & Courtroom Medical Musical Political Psychological Relationships & Romance SciFi & Fantasy Soaps Spiritual Thriller War & Disaster Western). But I just want to find details of the next Drama on 3 (a further click for that), and perhaps the one I've just missed (no details, refer to the iPlayer list? - under 'Drama' there are apparently 24 episodes, though on the first page only one is a drama; the rest is a muddle of speech programmes ... http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/programmes/genres/drama/player/episodes

    For me, the problem is the aim to lay out everything in much the same way on all the station websites, which on the surface seems to be sensible. That puts navigability above content usefulness. It would be better if each station had a different layout, dictated by the nature of the content. I think someone who listened to e.g. Radio 4 and Radio 3 would be able to cope with both sites after a short while. How many very different websites to most of us cope with during the average day, after all?

  • Comment number 4.

    Afternoon @ProfWhitestick.

    Thanks for getting in touch regarding the problems you have encountered on the new beta pages.

    My name is Jamie Knight, I'm one of the developers for the Radio Beta. In particular I work on ensuring the pages are accessible to the widest audience possible.

    "Has this beta version been tested out with visually impaired users?"

    I'm visually impaired myself. I have been trying to replicate the bug you describe however I have been unable to pin down the exact set of circumstances. Could you provide me with a little more information including:

    - The URL of the page where you encountered the issue.
    - The area of the page which was causing the issue
    - Which browser / screen reader combination you use.

    Thanks again for raising the issue and helping us understand the performance of the beta across a wider range of assistive technology.


    Jamie + Lion

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi Jamie

    Thanks for the reply. I'd gone in through Twitter and found the Nightwaves page and was checking out podcasts and I tried to search for Matthew Sweet. Don't tell him, but he's had a couple of good interviews recently (!) and when I found that the search term "Matthew Sweet" and "Sweet" resulted in a search not found response, I Tweeted to BBC Radio3 and @DrMatthewSweet. The latter kindly suggested I go to the 7th floor and shout!

    I'm using JAWS 13 and IE8 and I was in the Night Waves podcasts section. As I said I was working within Twitter at the time. Hope this helps.


    Prof Whitestick

  • Comment number 6.

    Not really a homepage issue, but I really can't see the point of the 'show more' and 'show less' toggle on episode pages (e.g. here or here), particularly when the whole text flashes up momentarily only to revert to the default lesser version.


  • Comment number 7.

    The Radio 3 categories on the current (non-beta) homepage are 'Classical', 'Jazz', 'World Music' and 'Arts & Drama'. On the beta homepage, the stated new Radio 3 categories are 'Arts', 'Classical', 'Drama' and 'Jazz'. ('World Music' is missing.)

    The new carousel settings of 'Highlights', 'Performance' and 'Popular Programmes' do not align with either of the above category sets. Who is ruling the editorial roost here, BBC Online or Radio 3?


  • Comment number 8.

    Each carousel setting should contain a 'Show More [carousel subject]' insert, as per other beta radio station homepages.


  • Comment number 9.

    Thanks for your feedback, Russ.

    More and Less. Automatically concealing some of the page content makes sense when there's a lot of it or on smaller screens. It's not always ideal, though, and can be clunky when there's not much content. We're looking at this feature closely but, you're right, it's not part of our beta testing so it may be a while before it's improved.

    Categories. The categories you see in the grey navigation bar are from the BBC's ontology for programme pages. We don't control the underlying classification or the labels used. I'm sure you'll understand that a single, shared classification for content is very useful - allowing us to connect together related content from different parts of the BBC - but the trade-off is that it can be a bit inflexible for individual brands. We're looking at the list of categories and at the order they appear in.

    Carousel. Can you explain this one in a bit more detail for me? I'm not sure what you're referring to.

    Steve Bowbrick, Interactive Editor, BBC Radio 3

  • Comment number 10.


    The categories you see in the grey navigation bar are from the BBC's ontology for programme pages. We don't control the underlying classification or the labels used.

    A clear case of the tail wagging the dog, isn't it? If BBC's ontology does not cater for the type and range of programmes made by Radio 3, that is the fault of the ontology, not the fault of Radio 3.

    As the current carousel selections stand at the moment, there is no immediate indication to a newcomer to the Radio 3 site that Radio 3 does any Arts & Drama programmes for example. The Essay, Nightwaves, and Drama on 3 are nowhere to be found in the current carousel content for example.

    If you look here or here for example, you will see 'Show more factual' and 'Show more comedy' respectively. Admittedly in those Radio 4 cases there is a good alignment with the carousel designations and the official categories, but there is no 'show more ...' at all on the Radio 3 carousels, which emphasises not only the gross mismatch in the ontology but allows a visitor no sight of what else there is on offer even within the limiting and impoverished classes of 'Highlights', 'Performance' and 'Popular programmes'.

    The more experienced Radio 3 website user will know to dive straight for the schedule page, which is now the only route to programme/episode microsite pages. (All beta homepage programme links now go directly to the console, where unfortunately the links to programme microsite pages have recently been removed.)

    All in all, it's a complete shambles.

    Your best interim move in my view would be to get the carousel designations to include, but not necessarily be limited to, the current categories.

  • Comment number 11.

    Hiya Prof Whitestick,

    Thanks for the information, i am following up the issue with the relevant team as the bug is not on the homepage itself. Will post back here once i know anything.

    Kind Regards,

    Jamie + Lion

  • Comment number 12.

    I agree with everything Russ says at Msg #10. I can't see what point there is in asking listeners for their views relating to the 'ontology' of the beta design unless there is a way of changing the 'ontology' of Radio 3's homepage to match the needs of the listener user. Or alternatively alter the general ontology of the design - which you don't control. Any chance of negotiating a Radio 3 opt-out with those who do control it?

    Also, I note that since I last broached the matter with you BBC online seems to have relaxed its editorial guidelines and does now have permanent links to external messageboards which have replaced boards axed by the BBC (iPlayer board). So how about a homepage link to the Radio 3 Forum? Would that be useful?



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