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Some changes to the Radio 4 web site

Wednesday 25 August 2010, 16:06

Leigh Aspin Leigh Aspin

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The new BBC Radio 4 home page

Editor's note. In this blog post, Radio 4's Interactive Editor explains how important the views of web site users have been to the redesign of the site. Please take a minute to leave a comment here and tell us what you think of the changes to the Radio 4 site - SB.

It's now over a year since we relaunched the Radio 4 website. During that time we've received lots of audience feedback. We've also relaunched some of our programme web sites (Woman's Hour, In Our Time, You & Yours, for instance) and become part of a wider range of conversations about Radio 4 on the web. So it's time to refresh our top-level pages to reflect all of this.

Home page

We've made some 'tweaks', rather than a wholesale redesign.

The top promotion area has divided opinion to some extent. Some correspondents (including contributors to this blog) felt strongly that the top image was too big; others liked it and told us it encouraged them to explore further. So we hope that an effective compromise is to reduce the visible image size slightly, in favour of text content, whilst retaining the impact that it makes.

On the top-right of the page, we've retained the navigation by title and subject and have added links to our biggest programme websites, some of which we've relaunched in the last few months. Take a look if you haven't done so already.

BBC Radio 4's biggest programmes

Returning to the left-hand side of the page, the 'Choice of the Day' area (the designers call this a 'carousel') didn't go down particularly well with users. Some people didn't understand how the carousel functioned, others simply chose not to use it. But the visible content was popular. So we've opted for a simpler presentation.

Underneath that, we've retained the popular iPlayer programmes list (updated daily) but have replaced the rather static list of podcasts in favour of highlighting some gems from the archive, which your feedback tells us you'd like to see more of.

We've also removed the 'topical tags' list. Technical constraints meant that these tags weren't always as topical as we wanted them to be. And research with users (we did a 'click-tracking' study) told us that hardly anyone clicked on them. We've used the space instead to promote some of the ever-growing conversation on the web about Radio 4.

Comment and Programmes pages

The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that we've added a fifth term to our top navigation - a page we've called "Comment", which aggregates a lot of the comment and conversations around Radio 4 - on our messageboards and blogs, and on social networks.

BBC Radio 4 home page Comment link

And we've improved our 'Programmes' page by only listing genres relevant to Radio 4 (no more 'animation'!), and by presenting the most recently broadcast programmes in each genre.

I hope that these design changes will make it easier to find programmes that inspire and entertain you, and introduce you to more content and conversation around your favourite programmes. I look forward to reading your comments.

My thanks to the BBC teams, to David Jones from the Radio 4 Interactive team and to our colleagues at Clearleft, who have helped with these changes.

Leigh Aspin is Interactive Editor at BBC Radio 4

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