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Homepages for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland

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Clare Hudson | 16:30 UK time, Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Homepage in Gaelic, showing content from BBC Alba

The BBC Homepage in Gaelic, for a user in Glasgow

Back in November when the new BBC Homepage launched, my technical counterpart James Thornett and his boss Phil Fearnley described how the team intended to evolve the product over time and improve the homepage for all users.

As homepage editorial lead, I’m happy to announce a significant new development as the BBC nations’ homepages become an integral part of the main homepage product.

So what's changing?

From today, if you change your location to a place in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, you will see navigation and content from the country you’ve selected, alongside other content of interest UK wide.

This change enables us to more fully and appropriately respond to cultural, political and topical interests across the UK.

From next week, users who set their location in the Nations will be able to navigate between different editions of the homepage – so if you’re in Scotland, for example, you will be able to see:

  • A choice of one homepage version for the UK, one more specifically focused on Scotland, or one in the Gaelic language featuring content from BBC Alba (pictured)
  • Promotional areas in the main ‘carousel’ of the different country editions which will contain more events, programmes and information from local editorial teams
  • Local TV and radio listings, weather and, at a later date, news, travel information and sports news.

This week, we’re giving users a sneak preview of the five new homepages before making the final switchover next week:

Today’s launch marks an important step in the journey towards offering users the opportunity to personalise their homepage.

And in uniting our homepages within a single set of technologies, we have eliminated the need to build, service and maintain separate sites.

This saves money, and means that nations and indigenous language homepages will develop iteratively alongside the UK-wide editions. The site continues to develop so your comments and feedback are very welcome.

Clare Hudson is Executive Editor, BBC Homepage, Search, and Navigation


  • Comment number 1.

    So we either have the choice of a homepage that gives us the international headlines mixed with UK headlines made up of mostly English news and sport or homepages with just the news and sport from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

    You do realise that people from outside England are interested in more than just the news from their neck of the woods and would like to see a bit of international news headlines as well as the local news?

    If you ask me there should be sections on the main news, regional news, main sport and regional sport all based on the location variable that just seems to be used for the weather on the main homepage. Local news and sports sub-headings should be on the regional news page and regional sports page respectively.

    As to the rest, I like the design, it is fresh and very usable. I never really have understand the furore with the new BBC web site layouts.

  • Comment number 2.

    May I be the first to ask: why is there no new page for England?

  • Comment number 3.

    what about news from local areas?

  • Comment number 4.

    Tragic Roundabout strikes again. :(

  • Comment number 5.

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

  • Comment number 6.

    Oh dear, the BBC didn't listen when well over 1000 people complained about the new style homepage when it was launched. Now it's coming to BBC Scotland and I find I'm going to have to change my default homepage again. The BBC and it's web designers have simply ignored complaints and requests to re-instate the old format and also ignored web experts who say that the carousel type sideways scrolling puts people off. It's certainly put me off and as soon as the Scottish page changes I'll be off. I doubt I'll visit the BBC website much after that as it's poor quality with limited information on programme web pages and is hard to navigate. It probably ranks as one of the worst web sites anywhere !

  • Comment number 7.

    And another thing, if the idea is to save money then why is there a dedicated site for Gaelic i.e. BBC Alba. A television channel and a web page in a language that is spoken and understood by around sixty thousand people from a population of six million? That's only one percent !

  • Comment number 8.

    Hi Donald,

    Thanks for your comment.

    The question of which services the BBC offers is not up to Clare. So you won't get an answer to that comment here, and it's off-topic.



  • Comment number 9.

    With respect Ian my comment is very much on topic. Clare touches on it herself in her last paragraph. The idea of the new homepage is to save money and yet a homepage is being provided in a language spoken by around one percent of the population of Scotland and a much lower percentage of the UK population as a whole. I cannot see the justification for that ! After all every Gaelic speaker is bi-lingual and so has no problem reading the English language version.

    Are you able to tell us how the main BBC Homepage has performed in respect of unique hits in the five months since it's launch compared to the old homepage in the five months before it was replaced. That to me would be the best indicator of value for money.

  • Comment number 10.

    To be fair Donald, Gaelic speakers are licence players too and the BBC are exactly the people who should be providing services to the smaller communities in the UK.

  • Comment number 11.

    True William but the point is that they are saying the whole revamp will save money. I'm merely pointing out how they can save more. However they could have saved even more by leaving the BBC website as it was last November. It was user customisable but where it failed in BBC's eyes was that it didn't point users in the direction BBC wanted them to go. It wasn't broke, most people were happy with it but they went ahead and 'fixed' it. Ian McDonald himself moderated a now closed blog that had well over 1000 comments that indicated that the new style format wasn't popular. I don't recall seeing any that were in favour !

  • Comment number 12.

    Afternoon all, it's been a long week but here's my first response.

    Firstly, to Chris Hill’s point - it is true that we do not provide a specific homepage for England as we do for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This is because it would not be sufficiently distinguished from the main UK page as viewed from England to be worth maintaining. The BBC does not provide any national services for England that are equivalent to Radio Cymru or Radio Scotland, nor does England have its own devolved government. We have English regions as opposed to BBC England, and these provide more local services as part of News.

    Donald - we are constantly developing and evolving the homepage; we know that users want to personalise and customise their experience and are busy determining how we will deliver it to them. This commitment was underlined when we made personalisation of the BBC Homepage the main theme of a recent Connected Studio event held here at BBC North.

  • Comment number 13.

    Any chance as to a reply as to my post, and an explanation why my second post was deleted when the post I was replying to was deleted then restored?

  • Comment number 14.

    Opps too quick, I see it's back.

  • Comment number 15.

    Thank you for your reply at #12 Clare and also thanks for upholding my appeal against the removal of my comment #9

    With regard to determining how to deliver a customisable user page might I suggest (with my tongue very lightly in my cheek) that it could be easily achieved by re-instating the old homepage. That allowed me not only to determine the content I wanted on the page but also to take into account of the broadcast region I am in.
    The new format has far more content and far more choice but that is not always a good thing. Very often the saying 'less is more' holds to be true and it certainly does in the case of the BBC Homepages.

    I would however still like to know unique hit figures for the main BBC homepage before and after the new format was launched.

  • Comment number 16.

    Hello again Donald.

    As my colleague James Thornett blogged a short while ago on these pages, we haven't seen any significant change, post v4 launch. Around nine million users are still accessing the homepage each week.

  • Comment number 17.

    So I take it you can't be bothered replying to my posts Clare.

  • Comment number 18.

    William, I have read your comments - thank you. As I mentioned above, the team are working on allowing users to customise their page so they will have more choice over what they see. At the moment, you should get the local news for your area.


  • Comment number 19.

    At the risk of sounding like Victor Meldrew I do not believe it!

    My homepage used to be the main BBC homepage until it was changed drastically reducing the content with the dreadful carousel across the top. I started using the BBC Scotland homepage which was just what I required in a homepage. The BBC Scotland homepage has now been changed incorporating all the things I disliked about the new BBC main homepage.

    I answered a survey on the BBC Scotland homepage a few weeks ago. I told them how much I like it and how much I disliked the main homepage I was forced to leave as it was difficult to navigate, hard to find relevant content, the background colour was harsh and bland. And where is the local news on the new BBC Scotland homepage?

    I now have to change my homepage AGAIN.

  • Comment number 20.

    Just visited the Scotland page - on the far right hand column with the sport news, there are two sections - "BBC Sport Scotland" and "Scottish Football".

    In the latter, each of the links ("Scottish Deadline Day as it happen…" etc) are to three stories published on the 31st January 2012 - an error surely?

  • Comment number 21.

    Clare, I know there is local news headlines for my area, what I don't see is the point as they often doesn't change for days on end. What I want to see is the main news headlines and the regional news headlines on the same page. I am sick to death of having to click though countless pages or search for relevant regional links buried at the bottom of pages purely because the BBC put the needs of 50 million of it's users as a lower priority than the users of one city.

    Giving us a choice of the main news and local news that doesn't change for days on end or regional news and local news that doesn't change for days on end is not giving a proper choice.

  • Comment number 22.

    England forgotten again.

  • Comment number 23.

    My initial reaction to the new BBC Scotland site was that of subservience to that of the UK: UK is the first link under the title, London 2012 is at the top of the page, and last I looked it told me that the London 6 o'clock news was currently showing on BBC Scotland. And are the listed 'most popular' programmes really those of Scotland?

  • Comment number 24.

    Instead of heaving sites for 3 of the nations plus a UK site, why not have a site for each of the 4 nations and no UK site.

    To suggest that 'England = UK' is insulting both to England and to the other nations.

  • Comment number 25.

    Why do I have to reset my Scottish options every time I log on to the BBC site ? I have tried to change my postcode on the site several times with no success. It always opens on London BBC. Keep it up BBC you are just confirming what a lot of us in Scotland already think, you are London centred and helping the Independence argument.

  • Comment number 26.

    Another BBC page I don't visit anymore because of the bad design. I am now down to just the news page from a regular visit list of the BBC homepage, sport, weather, programme, nations, radio. Whilst the news page is far short of being in the best web design category it is the only one which is readable at the moment.

  • Comment number 27.

    I've been away for a couple of weeks Claire and it's pretty obvious now with my first internet access in nearly two weeks that the BBC aren't going to listen to their users, or if they do it will be because of diminishing hit figures. The site is a mess and frankly has absolutely nothing to offer me now. The only thing that will have me using the BBC website on any sort of regular basis would be re-instating the old style homepages. I'm sure an awful lot of people feel the same way as I do.

  • Comment number 28.

    Totally miffed, now got to find a new homepage, I started using BBC Scotland's page as my homepage when the new carousel came out. It was a good way to avoid it albeit with less functionality than the older BBC homepage. I really miss the old BBC website with modules etc, oh well worse things happen. It only costs my license fee.

  • Comment number 29.

    Hi. I work in the Homepage product development team and wanted to reply to a couple of the comments made:

    In comment 25 by 'GrumpoMcChief', firstly thanks for reporting this and I'd like to re-assure you this behaviour is not specific to Scottish audience members. The likely cause of this is that you have cookies disabled (either completely or just for the BBC). You can read more here:


    If you can verify that cookies are enabled and you're still getting this behaviour then you might have found an issue. If this is the case then we'd be grateful if you could provide your browser version and exact steps to reproduce. This will help us diagnose the problem.

    In comment 20 by 'd shirlaw', thanks for spotting this. You're right - it wasn't correct but we have since made a change to ensure the correct Scottish football stories are appearing.

  • Comment number 30.

    Hi Jamie, Thanks for responding to my comment. I can confirm that my cookies are enabled. I am an Apple Mac user using the most recent version of Safari. My problem is not with the Home Page per se but if I click on the TV section of the home page to check on the programme schedule it will not allow me to set my post code to ensure I get the Scottish schedule. Cheers. GrumpoMcChief

  • Comment number 31.

    Hi GrumpoMcChief - you are right that the schedules on the TV page (https://www.bbc.co.uk/tv/%29 cannot be set by location and don't have a link to your location setting on the Homepage.

    However, the daily schedule in the 'What's on' section of the Homepage does provide you with this. You can set your preferred TV & Radio schedule here and it will remember this by cookie. So if you select BBC Alba for instance as your TV schedule, then this would be remembered next time you visit the page. You also have a quick link to view that 'Full Schedule' from there too.

  • Comment number 32.

    Hi Jamie, THanks for the reply. I did find the links to Scottish content on the full schedule but having set my preference to BBC Scotland it still reverts to London each time I return on both TV and Radio. GrumpoMcChief

  • Comment number 33.

    Just a quick question about the languages (and no, I'm not going to ask why Irish is missing, I know that one never gets answered ;) ).
    How did you decide what approach to take with languages? I mean that here you've gone with a different page per language (like on iPlayer), but other BBC sites (like the new radio ones) use the browsers' Accept-Language header to serve different languages at the same URL.
    Is there some sort of official BBC policy on when to use each option, or does each site just make it up as they go along?

  • Comment number 34.

    Hello there,
    One of the good things about living in Wales is the opportunity to access services of all sorts with some sort of local flavour. Unfortunately, this is a double edged sword. Due to the recent changes, Welsh Rugby Union is now a section in my sporting column of the home page. I enjoy a bit of Rugby, but other sports (football, cycling and others) come a long way ahead for me. There are lots of people in Wales (particularly South Wales) who are mad about Rugby, but where I live in the North, football is far more important and not just for me.
    As it happens I am English but have lived in Wales almost all my life. The Welsh Rugby Union section grates every time I log in and I know this sounds like I am being ridiculous, but I am considering changing my homepage so I don't have to see it!
    I like the News bit where it has National and International News stories and Local News below it. It doesn't work in the same way with sport. If I select that I live over the border in Cheshire (just a couple of miles away) will everything change? I imagine I will lose the local news then too, if that worked.
    If I could have a Football section like I used to have, it would be just fine. Now it's like the difference on BBC1 between Final Score (heavily football based as I like it) and on BBC1 Wales with Final Score Wales (heavily Rugby based). I do feel it's a bit condescending to be honest - I live in Wales, so I must want Rugby!
    Any ideas how I can be less annoyed?

  • Comment number 35.

    I'm leading a project to roll out services for the Nations and indigenous languages across the BBC products, including working with the Homepage team on the recent changes.

    To answer Lucas42's question in comment 33. Different approaches have indeed been used by different parts of the BBC. While we are in the process of aligning these, there is often a good reason why different approaches have been taken.

    In the case of the Cymru and Alba homepages, we know Welsh and Gaelic speakers use both their language and English language homepages and therefore wanted these pages to be addressable separately i.e. different URLs. Using the browsers' Accept-Language header in this particular case might have made navigating between English and other language content rather confusing.

    We are currently working on creating a single BBC language setting which will move between products. You can see the first implementation of this (including Irish!) in the bottom left of bbc.co.uk/radio

    On Jon's comment 34, I quite understand your problem. We decided to go with Welsh Rugby Union on the Homepage in Wales because football more regularly appears in the top 4 UK headlines and audience figures for Welsh rugby stories are consistently higher in Wales; but as you say rugby isn't everyone's favourite.

    The Homepage is being improved iteratively and I know the Homepage team are looking at increased personalisation options in the future. In the interim, we will be reviewing what sport we offer on the Wales version of the Homepage in a couple of months, and we'll be taking your and other users' comments on board.

  • Comment number 36.

    Thanks for your comments Robin, nice to be heard!


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