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BBC News: a single web solution for everyone

Robin Pembrooke

Director, News Product & Systems

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Over the next two weeks you’re going to see a lot of changes on BBC News online as we switch to a fully responsive website and go live with our General Election deliverables. Behind the scenes we’re also about to start using a new topic driven content management system called VIVO that is designed to let all journalists from across the BBC create and curate content in a quicker and easier way from a wider range of devices.

A single web solution for everyone

If you are one of the 60%+ of users who use our website on a mobile or tablet device then you’ll be very familiar with the solution that is about to go live to desktop and tablet devices. As I wrote in January we have been working towards having a single solution that works across all devices for a long time. Niko Vijayaratnam has been providing a lot of detail on the project as we’ve been moving towards full switch over. Since mid February all users have had the opportunity to try out our new site and we’ve been canvasing feedback from those who have tried it. We’re pleased that in these surveys users have ranked the new solution higher than the existing website.

In the last few weeks if you’ve been trialling the new site you’ll see a number of enhancements have been pushed live:

  • Photo gallery previews
  • New ways of previewing Features content
  • Breaking news ticker
  • Live event promotions

Being on a single web solution across mobile and desktop will enable our development teams to deliver new features and improvements to the website quicker than before. We’re working on how we improve recommendations, how we can surface the full story from across the BBC with topic pages, and improved Local News pages.

General Election

The next set of deliverables for the General Election go live at the end of March ahead of the Election Campaign. There will be a page for every constituency in the country that surfaces candidate lists, results, and the best of BBC content from across the country. We’ve already been running daily live blogs with BBC Live.

VIVO – a new tool for creating and curating content

One of the biggest changes in the coming weeks with in the tools that journalists start to use for creating and curating content. At the heart of our online strategy is making sure that we label, or tag, our content so that users can track the full story from the BBC across any person, place, organisation or theme. Our new App allows people to follow topics, and now we’re making it easier for journalists to create and tag that content. There is an excellent technical summary of the new tool by Cameron Taylor here.

The new tool will allow us to make our rolling news services across sport and news much richer experiences including video, audio and embedded social media posts. You’ll see these begin to roll out across BBC News and BBC Sport in the coming months.

As a team we recognise that we won't be able to please all users with the changes we make to products, and that we've seen a number of negative comments relating to the recent App relaunch from some users. I hope that you recognise the teams efforts to address specific issues and concerns when they are raised, and that we continue to invest time and effort in representative surveys, monitoring and focus groups to get the most balanced feedback possible for ways to enhance the product.

With both the new app and website we will now be able to release changes on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, and we're looking forward to deploying some really exciting new features in the coming months

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