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Homepage Two Months On

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James Price | 13:48 UK time, Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Update 2008-04-28: James has replied to comments in this new post.

It's been two months since the new BBC homepage launched, and we've had a chance to take stock.

We've listened to your feedback and are designing a smaller main feature area for the top right hand section of the page.

We don't want to put people off with what some (like JonnyB) regard as "oversized advertising". That said, the new version will doubtless still be bigger than some would like it to be. One reason is that we will be regularly showing video clips on the homepage from the summer and the size of this "player" is fixed.

As I mentioned before, the idea is that this feature isn't simply a section displaying promotions for BBC programmes and services, rather one that shows off some of the best topical BBC content, whether it be video clips, picture galleries, news features or quizzes.

And we don't intend to stop making other improvements. Indeed, we've already drawn up plans taking us well into 2009.

The homepage team is embarking on a series of infrastructure changes. These may not be immediately apparent to users, but will lay the groundwork for a new generation of customisable services... oh, and make the page load faster.

world_service_widget.pngAs well as lining up a number of new widgets (or modules), we're also busy enhancing just about all the ones that are currently available. For example, the World Service widget will soon display foreign language news headlines.

As Richard Titus has mentioned, we also want non-BBC services on the page, enabling you to check webmail or get the latest updates from friends on social networking sites. But all of this requires new kit and we're still some months away from rolling this stuff out.

Speaking of which... a new Beta homepage will be launched next month which will give you a sneak preview of some things in the pipeline.

And for those of you who want to set more than one location for weather updates... we hear you. We are awaiting the new kit to get it sorted!

James Price is the editor of the BBC homepage.


  • Comment number 1.

    All wonderful - but not a single comment about bringing the site into compliance with WAI or Section 508 with regards to the colour scheme (both the main news site *and* the blogs fail accessibility).

    Also, you're using AJAX for the blog system - Is it WAI-ARIA?

    If accessibility isn't considered at the beginning, it has a tendency to get put off time and time again, until it becomes "too complex" to fix later.

    I really hope the BBC doesn't fall into that marginalizing trap.

  • Comment number 2.

    Oh, your AJAX for comments seems to be having problems.

    Posting a comment brings up the busy animation (the boxes below the post) - the comment posts, but the busy bar doesn't stop moving and the page doesn't refresh - giving the impression the submission is stalled.

    Browser is Firefox .14

  • Comment number 3.

    Sounds great, especially enhancing the current modules.

    Not quite sure that I'd many non-BBC services to my BBC Homepage. That's the beauty of tabbed browsing: I have 4/5 Home Page tabs, each of which caters for different needs. One of them is iGoogle which, I dare to suggest rather devilishly, is probly going to do the same thing a bit better... Ouch! Also, I think that the look is quite good as it is - all similar and adding external content might end up spoiling it.

    Not sure that I'm going to like video clips playing on my homepage tho. I access the Beeb website through work and don't always want colleagues to know I'm surfing when I should be serfing... Will the video clips be auto-play and/or silent?

    Have reset my BBC homepage to the beta page again and look forward to seeing the next steps.

    Congrats on a great job so far.

  • Comment number 4.

    Like "headless", the prospect of having non-BBC widgets on the homepage doesn't strike me as a particularly necessary addition, but I'm sure I'll quickly become used to them!

    As well as the option for adding additional locations for the weather forecast, I hope there will be the option of adding extra regions to the "local news" section. This is currently available on the BBC News homepage, and it would be great to see it on the main site, too.

    Keep up the good work!

  • Comment number 5.

    Talk about teasing - I eagerly clicked that Beta link then with nothing of interest behind it. How can you be so cruel!

    All sounds great - I've really settled in to the new homepage, I just wish the personalisation could be linked to my bbc.co.uk account to follow me as I use about six different computers at one time or another!

  • Comment number 6.

    When will the homepage be linked to our bbc.co.uk accounts? I'd like to not have to reset the page very time I clear my cookies.

  • Comment number 7.

    With regard to the BBC i player, would it be more interesting if instead of prioritising the three most popular items, you chose three different categories?

    An idea would be Fact, Fiction, Entertainment. In this way you would have diversity and if the most popular of each category was chosen, popularity too.

    Just a thought.

    The new BBC Homepage is a marked improvement on the previous one.

  • Comment number 8.

    All I want is an end to the scandalous and inconsistent use of Verdana on all these update properties. I really don't get it.

    In all honesty, it's bearable (just about) on the home page, but for BBC News Online, it makes the site look incredibly amateurish.

    In fact, I wish the same level of iteration, care and attention to detail was given to that site - arguably the BBC's most important online property - as is obviously being paid towards the home page and iPlayer, which stand out as two recent successes.

    So, please fix BBC News. When compared to the online presence of other news organisations have (cnn.com, timesonline.co.uk, nytimes.com, guardian.co.uk all come to mind) it's a complete and utter embarrassment. The BBC should and must to better.

  • Comment number 9.

    Aw shucks. I thought the Beta Homepage link was going to show us a mock up of how it’ll look. Might be worth putting some teaser shots in this blog to get some reactions before rolling it out.

  • Comment number 10.

    The new BBC front page is superior to many other sites revamped pages in that it is clear and simple. The important stuff is obvious and convenient. Don't fill up the page with unnecessary rubbish, adverts or odd links. The intelligent user is quite happy to access their email, for example from the desktop.

  • Comment number 11.

    what happened to radio on the home page?
    I liked knowing what was on radio four at the moment. The progamme box has vanished.

  • Comment number 12.

    Well this is strange - I must be imagining things, because the ad box looks bigger than normal!

    The homepage is nice and would be very good if we had more customisation options. Let us remove the ad box and the 'featured blog' bit.

  • Comment number 13.

    Oh yes and when video is added, please don't follow the awful method applied for that BBC2 refurb some months ago; when a visitor landed, video played straight away.

    That is absolutely the worst tactic employed by wed designers, having music or other audio blaring out when one gets to a page.

  • Comment number 14.

    I forgot to mention the ability of the personalisation following me around. That would be very very useful!

    "vermotexile": I've still got Radio on my homepage. Have you accidentally removed it?
    Click on Customise Your Homepage link near the top left of the homepage - radio should be ticked.

  • Comment number 15.

    Sorry just remembered the other thing which I believe would be generally welcomed is to be able to re-order topics within modules. For example:

    My News module has the fixed headlines at the top (fine with that) then the topics which I have chosen
    - More Top Stories
    - Local News
    - Business
    - Politics
    - Technology
    etc etc

    However, I am more interested in Tech than Local News and more interested in Politics than Business, but cannot change the order around.

    If it's not possible in the next iteration for topic order to be changed by user, might I mention that Local News has the least updates/changes so it makes little sense for that to be at the top of the list anyway. Perhaps that just here in sleepy Suffolk though!

  • Comment number 16.

    "non-BBC services"
    "more than one location for weather"
    "check webmail "

    Hmmm. Where have I seen all this before?

    Ahh! That's it!

    Careful or Google will be complaining you're pinching the ideas they had with iGoogle a year and a half ago.

  • Comment number 17.

    Whilst I still love the new homepage design, I have to say that the typography on the large features leaves a lot to be desired. Surely there must be a style guide for this, and a National treasure such as the BBC must know the difference between true small-caps and reduced size small-cap substitution. Gill Sans has no true small caps and the use of the substituted smaller-caps grates on me every time I see it. Use upper and lower case Gill -- it's much easier to read u+lc anyway.

  • Comment number 18.

    I seem to remember talk of some multi column layouts...4 and maybe 5 columns of modules or maybe a single column for small screen devices. If you could choose to remove the carousel from the News and Sports module that'd be good too.

    Anyway, moonwolf points out that we're not especially WAI orientated or use the aria extensions. Unfortunately much of the good work done by these two groups doesn't make it into most of the end products that impaired users actually use on a daily basis (aria is only support by the forthcoming IE8, FF3 and some other browser that has escaped my brain?). On the plus side, we did do a lot of thinking and arguing about the best approach as well as consultation from a variety of sources.

    In fact, a certain Mr Featherstone of boxofchocolates.ca gave us a fantastic tip on triggering screen readers after XMLHTTPRequests. I'll also point you in the direction of our Accessibility Guidelines which is a good foundation to start from.

    Can't recreate your bug moonwolf but I can have a good guess as to how it happened. Added to the bug list, keep em coming.

  • Comment number 19.

    oo...it just happened. Will roll the fix out tomorrow morning and disable AJAX posts in the meantime.

  • Comment number 20.

    Links to radio, tv and sport need to be on every page. The BBC is primarily a tv and radio service, having to go back to the homepage to get to the pages on the services the BBC should be providing is a bit off. This is the best feature that you've ditched. Less non-BBC stuff as well, unless those services are paying for it.

  • Comment number 21.

    "Headless" - a crude solution I've found to the problem of reordering topics within modules is to add them one by one. So if you added Technology first, then saved changes, then added the next topic and saved and so on, it generally works!

    "Jimbo Baggins" - as far as I know there is still a link to TV and Radio on every page. On pages with the new "masthead", if you click the "Explore the BBC" icon, it comes up with a whole load of BBC links, including TV, Radio, News, Sport, etc.

    Looking forward to seeing the homepage continue to improve!

  • Comment number 22.

    "sonofdot" @ 21 - cheers! Useful workaround.


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