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Your feedback on our new look

Ben Gallop Ben Gallop | 15:40 UK time, Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Thanks to everyone who has commented on this blog over the past 24 hours or so about the new-look BBC Sport website . If nothing else the volume of reaction shows how much people care about this site, so I want to express my gratitude to those who have taken an interest and expressed their views.

The feedback we are receiving is all useful and will help as we continue to develop the site. As I’ve made clear on a couple of occasions now, the changes we implemented yesterday were just the start of a long-term project to redesign and we will constantly review what we have done as part of the process of providing a first-class sports service.

In terms of the issues that have been raised by you, there are some recurring themes which we are more than happy to discuss. My colleague Julia Whitney, who looks after design and user experience for the BBC’s News and Sport websites, has run through some of the major questions (about widened pages, the use of white space and the new banner) on the BBC Internet Blog. I won’t repeat what Julia says, but will instead pick up on some other issues which are specifically to do with Sport and relate to our output, rather than design questions.

One subject that has come up a fair few times is around the amount of content we are linking to from the Sport homepage. As Tom puts it:

I come to the BBC Sport website for an overview of the day's sporting events and this is no longer being provided.

Just to be clear, one of our absolute objectives is to continue to provide this overview of sport, which we know our audience values, and it is definitely not our intention to change that. So we are showcasing the biggest event of the day at the top of the homepage, with a run-down of the other major stories on the right-hand side.

Hopefully when people grow accustomed to the layout they will see that we're still providing this daily digest of sport. But, again, we’ll keep looking at this area to ensure we have the right balance of content on our front page.

Clearly much of the feedback on this blog has been negative – and I am not for a minute going to duck that issue and somehow pretend that what we have done has been met with a universal chorus of approval. One question that comes from Adriaan is:

Will you listen to what the people are saying in this comments section? By my reckoning the "Antis" are more prevalent by a factor of 10 to 1. Their complaints and dislikes all seem pretty similar. Is Auntie listening to her licence payers?

The answer to that is, yes we are listening. This blog is here for a reason – it’s to allow for a genuine dialogue between BBC Sport and our audience and we are not about to ignore what is said on these pages.

But our audience research cannot just be confined to this blog. We have been working for months to develop an approach that works for our users and gives them a more dynamic sport website, now and in the future. This was considered research and usability testing - which was used by a team of technical, design and editorial experts to help define this new-look website.

And in some respects the amount of criticism we have received on this blog is unsurprising – particularly for those of us who have been through this kind of redesign before. When we last made a significant change to our layout, back in 2003, we were inundated with complaints (and that was back in the days before we even had a blog…). We changed from this design:

BBC Sport website in 2000

To this:

BBC Sport website in 2003

But over time things settled down, people got accustomed to the different design and, crucially, our editorial team was able to exploit the new layouts to full effect. That is something that hasn’t happened yet – but I remain confident that in the coming weeks and months, as we head towards the big events of the summer, we will be able to show you that our new site is a more effective platform for all the fantastic content BBC Sport has to offer.

I was reminded of that experience of 2003 when I read this comment from Nick about the reaction to our latest refresh:

It's like getting a new pair of slippers at Christmas - sure they don't feel quite right to start with, and all you want is to wear your old ones. But wait until Boxing Day and the new ones will be so comfy that you will have already forgotten what the old ones looked like.

Thanks for all your comments and I look forward to the day that the new site once again begins to feel like a comfy pair of slippers…

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