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Changes to The Archers website

Wednesday 27 July 2011, 09:59

Keri Davies Keri Davies Web Producer, The Archers

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An example pf the new episode carousel

You will soon be seeing some enhancements to this website.

The Archers site was relaunched in its current format in December 2010. Since then we've been working with the digital agency Airlock (who produced this version of the site) and our colleagues in the BBC's Future Media division to make some more improvements.

As well as lots of small bug fixes and bits of minor housekeeping, the most noticeable differences will include the following:

Homepage: Rather than the current way of displaying the week's episodes, with a selection of tabs along the top, we'll be introducing a carousel (like the one that Desert Island Discs uses). This form of presentation is now the BBC standard way of offering this sort of material.

On the message board: We display a selected quote here, and it will now be easier to get to the quoted post on the message board, or the thread that the post is from.

Who's Who page: It will be easier to get to the Timeline from here.

Timeline: There are several improvements to how you move around the Timeline. We've also corrected the bug where, if a date of birth for a character isn't known, it defaulted to 1 January 1971.

There will also be a new 'accessible' version of the Timeline, which will be offered automatically to users who don't have Flash on their computer. This should be particularly useful to visually impaired people who are using a screen reader.

Storyline pages: We'll be able to illustrate these with one or more audio clips, presented in a carousel so you can easily see and select the one you want to hear. We'll also be able to include video if we have any relevant moving pictures.

Discuss page: We've improved the way we display selected 'tweets' from Twitter. URLs (web page addresses) and hashtags (like #TheArchers) will be links, so you'll be able to click on them to see the quoted page, or more posts with the same hashtag. We'll be displaying the author's Twitter profile picture as well.

Characters and locations in the current episode: Currently this features on the homepage and the Who's Who page, but we won't be offering this facility any more. This is the only aspect that can't actually be called an improvement, but producing these turned out to be quite labour-intensive work for what we perceived to be only a modest benefit to users.

It will still be very easy to find characters, actors and locations by using the search boxes on the Who's Who page and Ambridge Map page.

Mobile site: We hope to have fixed the bug in which some browsers returned the mobile version of the site, instead of the desktop version.

Now these publicly visible improvements are done, we'll be turning our attention to the back end, improving the ease with which we can update and maintain the site. Once that's delivered, I've got a few content improvements I'd like to make (for example in the family tree area).

I hope you approve of these changes. When they go live, do let us know what you think.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    But STILL no link to DTA message board?
    Why not?
    Given the pitiful number of people who comment on any of TA blogs it might be good for TA PR to direct listeners to a place where they can discuss, enjoy, laugh with / at, seriously weigh issues and thus build up loyalty to the programme.

    Why is the BBC being so doggedly blinkered and apparently self-destructive over its attitude to how good and useful the message board could be to advancing the accessibility of the programme? ? Inexplicable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    I agree 100% with Post No 1.
    These changes are of no interest to me whatsoever and I suspect they are of minimal interest to most Archers listeners.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    It does seem a bit of a pointless and presumably expensive exercise.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Keri old chap, what on earth is a "carousel" in this context - it is not evident from the DiD site, and I am presuming we shall not see wooden horses bouncing around the site, nor receive an earful of some of Rogers & Hammerstein's best?

    Quite agree with Dracs - if you're getting Airlock to do some work on the site, for heaven's sake get them to change the "Blog" tab to "MessageBoard" - afterall, Blog is already referenced (& left largely uncommented on) via the Discuss tab.

    Would be fascinated to know the footfall for this site, what numbers visit which pages, how many lurk on the boards and how many post - any chance of some figures, please?

    Many thanks


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    Comment number 5.

    I think the "carousel" is the slidy thing in the middle of the DiD site- you get a horizontal series of items, some of which are out of sight off the edge of the frame, and little left and right arrows to move them into view.

    The change I would like to see is the site using the full screen width, not just a band down the middle of my screen. About 60% of my screen width is wasted using the current layout.


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