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This website is changing…

Ben Gallop Ben Gallop | 14:25 UK time, Friday, 28 March 2008

Over the course of the next week you will notice some changes to the BBC Sport website.

I won’t go into too much detail about exactly what this will involve right now – there will be more to follow on that in the coming days. But I just wanted to flag up the fact that we are about to begin a long process of transformation of the site.

So why are we doing this? Well, it certainly feels like an appropriate time of year to be refreshing what we do – but just to be clear, this is about much more than a simple spring clean. Sure, we’ll be brushing away any cobwebs that we find around the site and tidying up the clutter. But we want to embark on something more significant than that and ensure we have a website that can better showcase the fantastic sporting content BBC Sport has to offer.

Much of the talk in media and technology circles is around convergence, with the boundaries between radio, TV and new media blurring all the time. Audiences are entitled, and increasingly expect, to get the best mix of words, still images, moving pictures, audio and interactivity in one place, on a single platform.

That’s what we need to be able to offer our users, which means updating both the look and feel and the functionality of

Of course, this is not the first time the BBC Sport site will have changed. Along with our sister site, BBC News, we have adapted to a shifting industry with a couple of significant relaunches in the past decade. Our initial foray into the new media field was in the first generation of the web, which was all about text and data, and little else – the “information super-highway” as it was rather quaintly labelled back in the mid-1990s.

This is what BBC Sport looked like in 2000 – complete with slightly nauseating yellow background colour:

The BBC Sport website in 2000

Then a few years later we redesigned again. This is what you would have seen in 2003, when we took the bold (translation: ‘belatedly sensible’) step to use white pages instead of yellow. The site also widened at that point, from 600 pixels to the current 800:


And now it’s time to change again. But the difference this time is that it won’t be a one-off relaunch. There won’t be a single moment where we snip the ribbon and unveil the new site. Instead we are about to embark on a long-term project, where we will make changes in an ‘iterative’ fashion, introducing individual improvements at a sensible rate, rather than in one big hit.

So we have already started using embedded media on our pages and next week we will start the visual refresh of our output. This is part of a process that began with a new BBC homepage and will now be rolled out to News and Sport. From next week the Sport front page and all our story pages will become wider, with bigger pictures and the content will be given more ‘room to breathe’.

The plan then will be to implement new changes in the coming months, to allow us to give more emphasis to our audio and video. The aim is that by the time a busy summer of sport comes around, we will have a platform that can genuinely do justice to the Olympics, Euro 2008, Wimbledon and all the other first-class action on offer.

As I said, I’ll come back onto this blog in the coming days to explain more about what is changing…

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