Friday 24 April 2009, 11:26
Glad you're listening to about 1% of feedback. Now how about tackling the rest? For example I have just noticed that the schedule for the full week doesn't observe any horizontal logic: a programme at 11.30 a.m. on Saturday appears at a lower visual level than a programme at 2 p.m. on Friday. This makes it horribly difficult to find things at a glance. Whilst the site generally has far too much white space, a little more on the full week's schedule page would make it much easier to read and also give a feeling on the length of the programmes.
Good question, I thought. So, I emailed the Radio 4 interactive team and asked them: "why doesn't the schedule line up horizontally" and a day later, Ant Smith, the man responsible for ongoing maintenance of the Radio 4 site now that it's live, sent me this picture: a mock-up of a new schedule that lines up horizontally! Ant wants me to tell you that this is a very early mock-up of a new schedule page and it might never make it into service but, still, it's exciting to see this kind of progress isn't it?
Ant also alerts me to this list of routine changes to the site, all of which should be live by now and all of which are direct responses to user feedback here on the blog:
Here's a fascinating post from one of BBC Audio & Music's software engineers, Yves Raimond, about the catalogue of programmes that underlies the new Radio 4 site (and all the other BBC sites, for that matter). This is pretty technical stuff - and you'll find plenty of words like 'ontology' and abbreviations like RDF/XML - but it's really worth reading because it's about the way the next generation of BBC sites will organise data better to make information easier to find and expose all sorts of interesting connections.
Here's Mark Friend, Controller, BBC Audio & Music Interactive, on the BBC Internet blog, explaining the decision to provide links to online shops selling Archers audio books. This is obviously a pretty controversial step for the BBC to take and Friend's careful to point out that:
The suggested suppliers have been assessed against published criteria which include purchasing security, data protection and customer support. These criteria are intended to give a simple and reliable way to find BBC products while not favouring any one retailer over others.
The BBC doesn't make any money from these links to retailers:
Buying media online can be confusing and daunting, particularly for those with concerns around security and legality. I believe the BBC has a public service role to play in helping people to find older content, and in guiding those least familiar with purchasing media online. Acting as a 'trusted guide' is something that we take very seriously.
Friend says that providing links to suppliers of historic Radio 4 content is analogous to the way BBC News online provides links to archive news stories and features. He's looking for feedback on this trial so click over to his post and leave a comment there if you have an opinion about it.
The same, of course, goes for our new blog design! The new design, which you'll notice is wider and a bit more like the rest of the Radio 4 web site, went live yesterday and a few snags have come to light - you'll notice that the features above the big banner at the top aren't behaving quite as they should, for instance. The tech team is working on this as I write. Please leave a comment to let me know what you think of the new look, though.
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