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Launch of Mobile Homepage

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Eleni Sharp Eleni Sharp | 14:00 UK time, Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Mobile homepage mockups on a wall, viewed through cut-outs of different mobile phone models.

working on mobile homepage designs

I'm Eleni Sharp, product manager of the BBC mobile Homepage. I'm pleased to announce we have launched the mobile page in Beta mode for public use and feedback today. The Beta is accessible from a promo at the top of the current mobile homepage, directly at www.bbc.co.uk/mobile/beta or you can go straight to it by scanning the QR code below.

(QR code for scanning by cameraphones)

QR code

The opportunity

One in seven of our visitors now come to the BBC Homepage via a mobile device, and this is set to grow as 55% of mobile phone owners in the UK now own a smartphone.

The current mobile homepage wasn't meeting our users increased needs and expectations; we wanted to improve this experience and bring it more in line with the desktop version which launched at the end of last year.

The Homepage's role is to bring together all the different areas of the BBC and showcase the absolute best of BBC content, and by offering customisation let you decide which content you would like to see on your BBC Homepage.

People use mobile devices in a very different way to a traditional computer at home, so we had a design challenge to ensure the content was quickly scannable but meaningful.

The Beta site is an initial launch and we will continue to work on it, adding new features and customisation options such as Podcasts, Things to do, Travel news, Search and blogs in the coming months.

Why do a 'Beta' version?

We have launched a Beta version to test the product and the technology in a live environment. The Beta period will last for around four weeks and sit alongside the current mobile Homepage. After this period we will decommission the current site and it will be replaced with the new one.

Mockups of the new mobile both in an Android tablet sideways, and in an iPhone upright.

Mobile homepage in Android and iPhone

Key features

Some of the key features of the new BBC mobile Homepage include:

  • Mobile friendly design - The design changes from one, two and three columns depending on your mobile device and the orientation.
  • Simpler customisation - making it easier to create a BBC Homepage which is personal to you
  • Weather at the top of the page - based on the useful feedback from the desktop version we have also included this on the mobile site
  • Integrated location settings - Setting your location updates the weather at the top of the page and also the local news
  • Location auto detect - This new feature will be released once we are out of the Beta period
  • Quick links - Making it easier and faster to navigate elsewhere around the BBC
  • Wider variety of content - Offering fantastic content across all the different products such as News, Sport, iPlayer, Food, Entertainment and more.
  • Increased amount of content - The new site gives us more room than ever before to showcase the very best of what's happening elsewhere on the BBC at any given time.

Tell us what you think

We'd like to know your thoughts so post a constructive comment under this blog, tell us what you think on Twitter using the #bbchomepage tag on twitter or email us at HomepageBetaFeedback@bbc.co.uk

Eleni Sharp is the Product Manager of the BBC mobile Homepage

Screen grab of full length of 2-column mobile homepage
Mock-up, full length, of three column homepage

Mobile beta homepage mock-ups with two and three columns


  • Comment number 1.

    Interesting to see the mobile version currently doesn't use a carousel unlike the main version of the home page.

  • Comment number 2.

    Looks good in the Nokia Lumia but there are a lot of links to iPlayer on it which won't work on the browser and there is not an app for Windows Phone to support it yet. Surely these should be hidden for the OS or a seperate app for it?

  • Comment number 3.

    Just tried the beta on my phone - looks really, really nice. Surprisingly easy to use/customise too. Nice one!

  • Comment number 4.

    Location auto-detect is a good idea, but why is the default always London?

  • Comment number 5.

    It seams really odd to me to have such big empty “heading” boxes that need to scrolled through such a long way.

    I thought it must be my phone (Nokia N8) but no, the screen shots you have added in your post look the same! Why make it so hard to view? I even have to scroll it with my normal web browser! what’s so wrong with a simple menu?

    Not keen ;-(

  • Comment number 6.

    What resolution is needed to get two columns? My Samsung Galaxy S2 only gets one in vertical mode when it looks like two would fit OK. Same in horizontal where I get two when three would fit looking at the white bars down the sides.

  • Comment number 7.

    On first inspection, I'm not sure whether I like it or not: it's very plain and it's very, very "tall", with lots of images, and even more white space. It even has white strips down each side!

    On the initial screen I see the weather icons and links to 3 subsections taking up the left half, and just two BBC news headlines taking up the right half.

    Even with the horrible old "banner" carousel taking up top half of the old mobile page, I could still see four or five headlines and the News/Sport links (with lots more headlines just a short scroll downwards).

    Why, oh why can't the homepage (including the desktop version) make better use of the screen without all the scrolling?

  • Comment number 8.

    In landscape mode, there are extra links to sub-sections in the top right corner, which seems a much better place than the middle of the page, where you could have real content instead (rather than duplicate links).

    However, they currently link to the non-mobile version of the pages - I assume this is not as intended...

  • Comment number 9.

    Not sure on the design yet. Feels like it could be a little flusher but a good start.

    Would like to see a few more native controls and maybe a slide able weather icon like Google weather.

  • Comment number 10.

    It's just as awful as the main homepage. I moved away from that and I'll move away from this when it is introduced.

  • Comment number 11.

    i think it looks really good! - i like :)

  • Comment number 12.

    Looks ok but even less opportunity to customize. I want several items of local news, UK news, world news, techology news, entertainment news, sport news, football news and, most importantly, My Club news. Instead I'm stuck with a couple of "news" items, a couple of "local news" items and some random sports news.

  • Comment number 13.


    The way it is is fine. The customisation I can choose just now is better that what you are offering in the future.

    Another BBC FM disaster in the offing.

  • Comment number 14.

    Thanks everyone for your feedback, we will collate it all and look at what we can build into the product.

    I have passed some of the specific comments around the top navigation links and iplayer on my colleagues, who will repsond on here.

  • Comment number 15.

    The page needs to reflow to fit the available space, not stick to a rigid layout. On my 800x480 pixel device it looks fine at default zoom in portrait mode, but in landscape I get the exact same layout at the exact same size, and two huge white wastes down the sides. There's simply too much diversity in mobile devices to get away with this sort of thing - looking nice (which it does) is great, but form needs to come after function in the priorities.

  • Comment number 16.

    On my mobile phone I do not see the log in button. Now I have a that BBC ID made, I would like to see what benefits that gives me. Like I just wrote on the other blog on the proper homepage, I do miss the structure that allows me to navigate to other homepages of the BBC sites. It just highlights a fraction of what is available.

  • Comment number 17.

    At 06:42 22nd Mar 2012, kevocl wrote:

    It's just as awful as the main homepage. I moved away from that and I'll move away from this when it is introduced."

    Yep, me too!

    Why doesn't anyone at the BBC website team actually listen to what their customers want rather than blindly carrying on regardless.

    I've not used the main BBC homepage since it went live, I've used the mobile homepage instead, but it looks like I'll no longer be using that either.

    It's messy, unorganised, horrible to look at, just like the main homepage.

    All hail the Emporer's new clothes!

  • Comment number 18.

    I've tried it and don't make much of the layout, as well as incorrect links whereby some goto mobile pages, some go to main site pages.

    Can you guarantee that the "My Club" football section will stay whereby the info is pulled into the homepage as it does now, as from what I can see so far from the new page, there is no option for this.

    The lack of structure as there is now would be a major step backwards

  • Comment number 19.

    Sorry, also forgot - what's with the stupid Lottery section now on mobile & full site. A quick link before pointed to latest results, equivalent to Ceefax days; now it just points to s stupid page to watch the programmes from iplayer and a link to the official national lottery website for draw results! Another reason not to use BBC website anymore, skip out the middle man and go straight to the official site!!

    Stupid is as stupid does

  • Comment number 20.

    Doesn't look good in the Nokia xpress music 5800. Looks all stretched with loads of wasted space and a hideous amount of scrolling. I had started using the mobile site after the main desktop version was wrecked with the redesign but now looks like I won't be able to use the mobile version either now... :-( Looks like the BBC have put another 'nail in the coffin' of the BBC's online presence. I am increasingly of the opinion that it is the intent of the BBC to have their users cease to use the BBC's online offerings by making them so badly designed so that it can be shut down and people will have to use their commercial rivals... I hope I am wrong.

  • Comment number 21.

    Just tried the new mobile site. My comments are that there is too much white space & pictures. The result is that it loads so much slower than the original mobile site. When it eventually loads you have to scroll a lot to see content. On an HD2 all I can see without scrolling is 1, my location - thanks but I know where I am. 2, A very dummed down version of the weather - why do you assume that I want to the weather first ? 3, Customisation icon - why pride of place in the centre of the screen ??? 4, One news story...

    The web designers should remember that there are users who are not based in London and don't have 3G & wifi hotspots everywhere. The result is the beta site is a worse customer experience.

    So congratulations again - looks like you're going to mess the mobile site up as much as the main home page. Don't worry when those troublesome users (customers) start complaining on this blog you can just shut it like you did for the main page !

  • Comment number 22.

    Oh honestly, I don't know what everyone is complaining about. Have you all actually looked at the site on your phones? It looks clean, well-designed and the customisation is very well-implemented. The page isn't too long, and really how much content do you expect to fit on one page of a tiny mobile screen anyway?

    Brilliant stuff, well done. Looking forward to BBC iD being added as well, for cross platform preference saving etc :)

  • Comment number 23.

    @22 Maybe put less content on a homepage, and add more structure. A homepage should be a landing site from which you can reach other sections of the BBC web portfolio. So, more links to subdomains (taking only limited room), and not so many pictures of Dame Edna, Classic Lemon Tart and Sir Tom.

  • Comment number 24.

    Today, a link named "Cricket Sri Lanka v England" is on the website. That one sentence uses almost an inch of vertical space on my iPhone screen. One inch for one sentence! Below it is a giant photo of the earth with some debris, another inch gone: form over function. Had to swipe two pages until I reached Man United news.

  • Comment number 25.

    @22 err yes i have, and it doesn't look well-designed. it looks like the current homepage with big blocks of empty space meaning that to get to any thing useful you have to scroll for half an hour to find it.

    i fully understand them going for the "Metro" style to try and fit in, but big blocks of empty space are not what is needed on a smaller screen.

    i like the idea that you can customize, but you were meant to be able to do this before, and with the current bbc online pages, neither of which have ever worked for me so i don't expect these to either.

    why not spend all our licence fee money on fixing the current website debacle, before destroying a fully functional and working mobile site. looks like another site needed for mobiles now to go with the exodus from the tablet version (oh sorry i forgot they declared it the desktop version even though optimized for tablets. my bad).


  • Comment number 26.

    and just to confirm, if the customization is meant to work it doesn't. i removed the ticks for sport/news and now all i get is a page full of stories titles News, and Food. i am sure that no where on the customization did i ask for three pages worth of scrolling about food stories at the bottom of the 3 pages of scrolling of news stories that i am pretty sure i unticked.

  • Comment number 27.

    Much as you untick the iPlayer, and you still have links to iPlayer on the screen.

    I should NEVER have to log in to the BBC to have customisation, when a cookie will do, and has done, the job perfectly well for years.

  • Comment number 28.

    @27 Cookies are device specific - it would be nice to share personal choices across devices using BBC ID rather than customising each individually. Maybe they could fall back to a cookie for those that don't need this functionality?

    @26 Customisation works well on my phone

  • Comment number 29.

    Why should I have to log in to personalise a device I use differently from one another.
    Mobile devices are used in a much dis-similar manner from a traditional desktop, so my preferences varied from the old BBC Homepage (I don't use the new Hollyoaks edition), to my mobile.

    A BBC iD wouldn't help me in the slightest to customise.

  • Comment number 30.

    Why should I have to log in to personalise a device I use differently from one another.
    Mobile devices are used in a much dis-similar manner from a traditional desktop, so my preferences varied from the old BBC Homepage, to my mobile.
    Why do you assume that BBC ID cannot make a difference between desktop, tablet, mobile and TV. The BBC has a four screen approach, so I assume that using BBC ID in the future would give me the option to differentiate between those screens. It is not that difficult to store four preferences (based on what screen you look at). Another kind of "responsive design".
  • Comment number 31.

    The BBC's recent track record.

    You'd think that optimisation for the user would be the key. Every recent BBC development (Homepage to now) has ripped that away.

    Good enough reason?

  • Comment number 32.

    After the BBC trashed its main home page I guess the mobile version was soon to follow! Truly a layout for the iPhone generation, looks pretty but not much substance. The general look is fine but there is so much wasted space. Surely a web page needs to provide information in as compact a way as possible, the old page did this, though I do admit it could not be described as pretty. As others have commented, customisation has been ripped out and there is, like the new non-mobile homepage, too much emphasis on iPlayer. Don't get me wrong I think iPlayer is one of the best things on the internet but web pages, and especially mobile ones, are just not the place for it. So, if you want something that does not require a user to put any thought into what they want delivered and to look nice, great, but for someone who wants a valuable internet resource to exploit, not good.

  • Comment number 33.

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

  • Comment number 34.

    Every bit as dreadful and dumbed down as the main page. Pretty pictures at the expense of actual content. Why is the BBC trying to drive everyone with an actual brain away from its online services?

  • Comment number 35.

    There is one long thin column of content in the middle of the screen on my Blackberry Bold; I have to scroll quite a bit to get to the bottom and there's too much white space either side of the content. Personally, the iplayer links use up a lot of space and are unnecessary as I wouldn't watch tv my phone. The links themselves are very clear but, as with the website overhaul, I don't understand the necessity for a large image to go with every link, rather than just more information on the page.

  • Comment number 36.

    I agree with the various comments regarding scrolling ... looking at the new site on a Blackberry 8520, which doesn't exactly have a huge screen, I have to scroll down forever!

    I much preferred the old design, where I got the main headlines within ~2 1/2 pages.

    The link the weather seems to send me to the main site.

  • Comment number 37.

    Really don't like the new format. It is far too bloated for mobile devices. Too much scrolling to get anywhere. The old format was perfect for seeing news quickly with the minimum of scrolling, please bring it back.

  • Comment number 38.

    What about the millions of us who have a less sophisticated mobile than a smartphone?. The first message I get is "unsupported scripts in content", followed by a page that is clearly not compatible. Last time I checked we all paid our licence fees too. So why are we effectively losing a service?.

  • Comment number 39.

    I can't try the beta apparently because I'm abroad on business at thhe moment. Does this mean that in future anytime I'm away from home I'll lose the capability to look at what is going on in my home area?

    I can understand videos etc not playing, but as I'm only using a phone to look, I'm not too worried about videos. Text is fine thanks

  • Comment number 40.

    regarding iPlayer links etc also, if this is meant to be the mobile version, then surely the content should be for what the majority of users will be viewing it on. Remember not all of us will live in london where the 4g or whatever will be getting rolled out. plus i can guarantee for a fact that where i am even using the patchy 3g coverage will be no use for streaming iPlayer content.

  • Comment number 41.

    Sadly I'm not impressed. My primary requirement is that I want to see the top 3 news headlines and top 3 sports headlines on one page, updated regularly, without having to scroll down.

    If I know that I can find this information at bbc mobile then I will visit regularly and will interact with more of the content as a result. I don't visit bbc mobile on my phone just in case there's an interesting podcast or blog - that's a bonus once I've achieved my primary reason for visiting - to check the news & sport headlines.

    The new site simply doesn't provide this primary information to me in an easy to consume way, so I'll have to go elsewhere. We're both poorer as a result.

  • Comment number 42.

    Looks like I'll have to find a new mobile homepage in 4 weeks, just like I did when the main BBC home page was 'improved'. Too much of what you think I want, not enough of what I know I want. Lose the white space, pointless pictures and other ephemeral cr4p. Let me choose what I want to see and put where I can see it without scrolling around.
    Put function ahead of form and go back to what the BBC websites used to do very well. Remember that the Q in DQF is Quality, not Quantity.

  • Comment number 43.

    Thanks for all your comments. I can’t respond to all of them, but looking at our weekly review, we’ve seen several consistent comments via this message board, social media and direct emails. Some of the key themes are around more customisation, quick links pointing to mobile only sites, advanced customisation and request’s for search.

    We have prioritised the new requirements and the development team are busy building extra features into the site ready for the full launch at the end of April.

  • Comment number 44.

    Looked at new home page on both a Nokia E 5-00 running Symbian S60 and an old HTC device running Windows Mobile v. 6.0. Whilst it looked good on the Nokia device, the rendering was appalling under WM 6.0. A pity since the older device is WLAN capable and very handy!

  • Comment number 45.

    I am glad you have picked up customisation as a requirement. The same trend was discovered in the feedback to the Homepage and the Sports sites too. How could such an own goal be scored by the BBC? What sort of research do they conduct that does not reveal the fundamental wishes of their audiences. The trouble with GEL and so called brand consistency is that when you get it wrong, you get a wrong across the whole online offering. Add to that the other fundamental flaw of BBC future media "we never turn back" and you a recipie for waste, mistakes and eventual brand damage... repeated every 3 months or so.

  • Comment number 46.

    Extreamly good and exciting.

  • Comment number 47.

    First, I like the BBC web site and the continual improvements.

    My issue is with the BBC Iplayer, the BBC seem to think that we all can afford high end devices in order to enjoy iplayer content. I can't afford an iphone nor would i want one anyway for that matter. Do the BBC get paid to promote apple ? All of us on low end android devices are being neglected but still are subject to the licence fee!

    You (the BBC) know that we can access BBC channels via other sources so why not sort out the access for us rather than entering into costly legal cases trying and failing to stop these other channels of access. Surely the costs incurred with legal fees could have been spent on delivering content to us directly, the bonus to the BBC would be that the other providers would soon shut down.

    Just make it happen Simple

  • Comment number 48.

    Very frustrated! You seem to have moved from beta to v1.0, however, my Windows Phone device is always automatically redirected to the desktop site. Why?

  • Comment number 49.

    So you implemented this ghastly design?

    Awful, just awful.

  • Comment number 50.

    48. At 19:03 29th May 2012, Bill Hawkins - It sounds like a cookie setting, if you select 'Mobile' which is in the footer of the desktop site on your phone that should take you to m.bbc.co.uk


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