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The team that brought you the new Radio 4 web site

Tuesday 31 March 2009, 14:41

Steve Bowbrick Steve Bowbrick Head of Interactive, Radio 3

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Many people contributed to today's launch of the redesigned Radio 4 web site, some over several years - not least Leigh Aspin and his Radio 4 interactive team and the many engineers from the various BBC technology departments who dreamt up and then built the fantastically useful catalogue of BBC programmes.

We'll try to acknowledge more of these people here as the new look beds in and as we get used to the new features. In the meantime, the slideshow shows the site's designers and 'client side developers' from BBC Audio & Music interactive - led by Suzy McKeever - and Leigh Aspin's team from Radio 4 Interactive, whose job it is to look after the site now that it's live.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Haven't had time to fully investigate the new web site but appreciate the efforts. However, I'm looking at it using IE7 and quite a lot of the type hangs over the images, ie "Welcome to the Radio 4 website" and some of the text is hidden in Choice of the Day.

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    Comment number 2.

    Sorry to be a wet blanket, but I didn't have any problems navigating the old site and I don't see any significant difference in the new site. Maybe it is because I don't use podcasts (and actually don't know what they are) since I listen to the radio on my pc.

    My problem is that since I listen to R4 in Canada, I rely on the Listen Again feature and that has not been working well for weeks now. Maybe you've all been busy setting up the new site. It still seems to be taking as much as 10 hours to make the Listen Again available after a programme has aired. It would be nice if this could be fixed.

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    Comment number 3.

    Yes, an attractive website! It's a pity, though, that one is invited to "take a tour explaining......", an invitation which can grammatically mean only something rather improbable, namely that the person invited does the explaining.

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    Comment number 4.

    I almost fell off my chair when I realised the old Radio 4 site was gone.

    Please, please bring back the feature of the old site that lists recommended "best" programmes for the last 4 or 5 days.

    Or even better, bring back the old web site. It was neat, with no need to scroll down.

    To finish on a brighter note: The BBC is still miles better than any other broadcaster I know.

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    Comment number 5.

    A definite retrograde step for Radio 4. Let’s compare the archive:

    Old page from Frontiers: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/science/frontiers_20081124.shtml

    New page:

    Less information, no extended “Listen Again”

    Please explain how this can possibly be construed as an improvement.

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    Comment number 6.

    Love Jem Stone's collection of old screenshots!


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    Comment number 7.

    I liked the old website, but the new one is fine.

    Just one thing I'd like to see on it: on the 'home' page you used to be able to see what programmes would be next, but now all you can see is the one on air. Can you change this please? It was very convenient.

    I don't like the big picture right in the middle either, it takes too much space and does not say much as you only have one thing on it, and as other people have said, you need to scroll down a lot more with this new site.

    Otherwise, nice job!

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    Comment number 8.

    Steve - this is in serious danger of getting out of hand. Comments on the new site are being made on *four* current blogs - this one, Mark Damazer's one, and two of Leigh Aspin's. Could I suggest that comments specific to the site redesign are requested to go to or are directed to a single place?


  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    Comment number 10.

    I see the link to the R4 messageboards has been relegated to the bowels of the front page. Perhaps Mr. Damazer would like to tell R4 listeners why the station has always been so hostile to both its message boards and MB contributors? Why does BBC radio fail to support its messageboards? Yet another nail in the coffin with the closure of the POV radio board. In anyone within the BBC interested in radio?

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    Comment number 11.

    While i am being "reactivley moderated " - It occurs to me that only today there was a report from some one or other saying that the BBC spends colossal sums of money doing things it does not need to do , and attempting to compete with news and media it does not need to compete with.
    I rest my case.

    The report was on the Today programme and was presented by BBC apologist in chief and "media correspondant " Torin Douglas, so i had to fight to stop falling asleep while it was on. Mr Douglas's publicly funded job is to be so boring about the BBC on the BBc that nobody notices that he spends his entire time spouting propaganda for the BBC and calling the retrogressive tax which fund it the "licence fee" - a bit of Orwellian doublespeak which of course means blanket, unfair,mandatory tax on owning a television ( in order to pay for pointless "media corresspondants" and website revamps that are neither needed or wanted.

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    Comment number 12.

    I like some things about the new site, including the new more coherent/consistent programmes pages - however their content seems less comprehensive than in the past.

    I don't like the 'chunkiness' of the new look - you've got more space to play with because of the wider page, but you've just expanded things too large rather than including more content. Despite living with it for some time, I don't like the chunky look on the main BBC Homepage. The BBC News homepage has improved since its redesign and makes better use of its space now.

    The chunky layout looks childish - I think you could reduce some things in size (particularly the content in the main feature box which feels far too big) - and fit more in, without compromising on important white space.

    (btw... my screen res is 1280 by 1024, so not that low and my browser is rendering pages in 100% zoom).

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    Comment number 13.

    I'm just going to jump in and thank you all for your feedback on the new site. It's always a thrill to get so much useful input so quickly. I've asked Leigh Aspin, head of Radio 4 Interactive, to come back and respond to your questions, suggestions and complaints in a new blog post as soon as he's able to.

    In the meantime, if you haven't read them already, you might find that Leigh's earlier posts answer some of your questions: 9 March http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radio4/2009/03/designing_the_new_radio_4_web.html 19 March http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radio4/2009/03/more_on_the_new_radio_4_web_si.html

    The Radio 4 blog is barely six weeks old and I'm really pleased that it's become such a useful forum already. I visited Leigh and his team in their office in Broadcasting House this afternoon and they were already reading messages left here and on the Radio 4 message boards.

    A couple of specific points: @Russ I take your point about the way messages are accumulating in multiple locations and I know this doesn't seem particularly 'joined-up' but I think we just have to accept that this will always be the case. Feedback can already arrive via the message boards, via email direct to the interactive team as well as via the BBC phone lines, the duty log and even by post. It's the job of managers here to read all this feedback and to provide a considered response. Leigh is going to do his best to draw the threads together in his next post.

    @Mickkitson I've decided to leave your first abusive message up because it looks like this is your first contribution to the blog. If you leave any more like it I'll submit them for moderation and you're likely to find yourself more tightly moderated or banned completely. This is a blog: I expect grown-up behaviour from all contributors. I welcome your thoughts but not rudeness.

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog

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    Comment number 14.

    Yes, @Mickkitson, while I was typing that last comment the moderation team zapped yours. It's pretty simple: if you can avoid the rude language you can participate in the discussion.

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog

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    Comment number 15.

    I don't see this as an improvement at all.

    I use a small format 'netbook' and there is just too much space taken up with large graphics and banners. For example, the "Schedule" tab displays down to the words "00:00–00:30 Midnight News" while the net line goes off the bottom of the screen.

    If I've selected the 'More' option so that I can see what is coming on next then I don't get beyond the date before the schedule information vanishes off the screen.

    Maybe the developers have been given large screen displays. Maybe they got carried away with filling things out with pretty pictures. Maybe BBC RADIO should be considering content ahead of graphical design.

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    Comment number 16.

    The new website looks like it was put together with one of those free webite toolkits.

    It is confusing poorly laid out and the text overlaps with other text.

    Difficult to read and to use

    A complete shambles

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    Comment number 17.

    What a lot of moaning. Just what you would expect from Radio 4 listeners. It can't be that bad as no-one is marching on Broadcasting House. Yet.

    Aside from the Chrome 2 issue already highlighted, one thing strikes me as interesting.

    There are lots of faces on the homepage:

    David Mitchell (twice)
    Rhys Ifans
    Stanley Baxter
    Frank Gardner
    Jacqueline Wilson
    Punt and Dennis (twice)
    Mark Steel
    Mevlin Bragg
    Paul Lewis
    Andy Hamilton
    "Tickets" face

    Given that this is a station famous for having a Woman's Hour, it seems strange that only one of 13 faces are female.

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    Comment number 18.

    Another oddity:

    Click on "Old Harry's Game - Episode 6"

    You get to a page titled

    Google's spider is not going to like that!

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    Comment number 19.

    GrahamRule: Can I draw your attention to http://www.bbc.co.uk/guidelines/newmedia/desed/visual_language.shtml that covers the "Barlesque" (after TV Go Home's Nathan Barley) BBC visual design standards used over all BBC sites?

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    Comment number 20.

    #16: When leaving feedback about website layout, it is handy to say:

    - what browser and version you are using
    - the operating system you are using
    - the page you are looking at (URLs are good here)

    And, for example when you say "text overlaps with other text" you need to say which text it is, it is very hard for people to deal with genuine errors without more specific information.


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The new Radio 4 web site

Tuesday 31 March 2009, 10:44

Your feedback on the redesign

Thursday 2 April 2009, 18:45

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