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New Homepages for all BBC Radio Stations

Daniel Bean

Senior Product Manager, Radio Product Group

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The homepages for all BBC radio stations are receiving a two part redesign. Daniel Bean, Senior Product Manager from the Radio Product Group, discusses the reasons behind the changes and how they were made possible.

It’s been a couple of years since we started a long term project to build an entirely new version of iPlayer Radio on the web. One of the first things we did was to think about what is most important for our audiences. Near the top of the list was helping people to navigate through the amazing and sometimes bewildering breadth of BBC Radio programmes as well as the clips, videos, quizzes and articles we offer. We thought this was especially important for those that didn’t have a specific item in mind but wanted to browse.

One of the things we know is that people trust the BBC to pick out the best bits of our output for them, including new and established musicians and writers from all over the world. A key place we do this is on the radio station homepages. However, we also know that a lot of people who visit radio station homepages haven’t clicked on the bits that we’ve picked out. Part of this is to do with people often visiting radio homepages just to listen to live radio. However, we did some tests and found out that if we did a better job of showing some of the extra content we’d picked out we could double the number of people clicking on it.

So last summer we changed this and took the homepage sections with the extra content that were a bit hidden behind tabs and stacked them vertically on the page. As predicted by our research, this doubled the number of people clicking on that content.

Using Radio 2’s homepage as an example, it went from looking like this:

To looking like this:

We then asked ourselves what else we could do to make the network homepages even better at showing people all the great content we have for them. We came up with two things: the first was to design the sections of the homepage so that it’s a lot clearer what’s in them. If you’ve been watching closely you may have noticed that many of the homepage sections have already been changed to the new design. The second was to compress the top section where people click to listen live so that there’s more space to see the other things on offer.

The top section now includes a schedule which can be scrolled back to listen to a programme from earlier in the day or scrolled forward to see what is coming up. We tested this with some users and it went down well. All our radio stations have the same basic layout but our teams can now easily prioritise which sets of content they highlight on the page and in what order.

Again, looking at Radio 2, the top section has gone from looking like this:

To looking like this:

This new layout makes our pages more effective across the range of screen sizes and devices that people use.

The most significant changes are to the Radio 1 and 1Xtra homepages. They’ve been different from all the other radio stations since we launched their current homepages in late 2011. Those designs have served Radio 1 and 1Xtra well but after five years we have now found a better way to help users find all the amazing programmes, clips and videos that those two stations create.

Taking 1Xtra as the example, it will go from its current look:

To this new look:

We’re releasing this work in two parts. Firstly we changed the top section today on all radio stations apart from Radio 1 and 1Xtra. Once we’re happy that it’s worked well we’ll change the Radio 1 and 1Xtra homepages to their brand new layout.

As ever, we’d like to hear your feedback.

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