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Changes to our new look

Ben Gallop Ben Gallop | 09:53 UK time, Friday, 2 May 2008

When we began the process of re-designing the BBC Sport website a few weeks ago, I promised we would keep reviewing the changes we were making and would respond to feedback on this blog.

In particular I said we'd take another look at the whole issue of the mix of content on the front page of the site - after we received comments that we were no longer providing a quick snapshot of the headlines from around our various sections.

We constantly evaluate the parts of our site people click on, using an internal 'heatmap' tool. And the reason we removed this round-up of headlines in the first place was that this section in the bottom third of the page didn't actually generate that much traffic and appeared to be rather 'unloved' by our users.

At least that's what we thought.

BBC heatmap of 1 May 2008, early evening

What we had no way of knowing, but what became obvious when we re-launched the front page, was that lots of you read those headlines without clicking through to them - treating it as a 'daily sporting digest' in its own right.

Sometimes it's only when you take something away that you begin to discover its true worth - and once we had unveiled the new-look site, the absence of this digest proved to be one of the most contentious issues around the whole refresh. It became clear that people found it useful to just scan the various sports to get an instant fix of what had been going on, before then checking out another area of the site.

So over the last few weeks we've looked again at how the Sport homepage is set out and I'm pleased to report that we've decided to bring back this collection of headlines.

It's an audience-inspired reprieve, if you like.

The bottom section of now contains a list of headlines from each of the main 14 sections of the site, one from each individual sport. It's worth stressing that this area of the page is not supposed to be the definitive run-down of the top sports stories of the day (they will still be showcased in their full glory higher up the page); it is intended as a snapshot of the 'best of the rest' from around the world of sport.

I've said before that this re-design is a complex long-term project - and we will be introducing some more changes over the course of the summer to bring the whole site in line with the front page. I'll be back to explain more when that happens...


  • Comment number 1.


    Firstly let me thank you and your team for taking a small step to improve the layout of the main sports page, however, although this re-introduction of the various headlines is a start, it barely begins to address the main thrust of the thousands of complaints you've received in response to the changes that the BBC has brought in.

    The current use of space is still absolutely appalling and a totally retrograde step.

    The pictures still take up too much space. The information immediately available (without having to scroll down) is still woefully insufficient. There is still far too much white space. Why are there still two headers when surely only one is necessary and using two merely takes up too much room?

    What was a compact, easy to read and navigate site has now become bloated and confusing for those of us who actually want to use it.

    Frankly I feel the changes you've made have been done more as a sop to try to shut your loyal users up than as a genuine attempt to improve things. It's all very well saying that this site is a "work in progress" but these changes are fundamental to its usefulness (or at the current time, its lack of usefulness).

    I repeat what has been said by others; Change is not in itself a good thing. It only is a good thing when it brings palpable improvement. This redesign is certainly NOT an improvement. It isn't even as good as then site you had before. It is a backward step; One which your audience has taken the trouble to point out to your repeatedly.

    Frankly this whole matter smacks of utter arrogance. That the BBC understands what its audience wants better than they do themselves is a total nonsense but when we make our feelings known (and God knows you make that hard enough with your faulty commenting system) you merely pay lipservice to the repeated criticisms.

    It is difficult from this vantage point to come to any other conclusion. Regretfully this site has become substantially worse despite all the money (and I'm sure you remember who's money it is, don't you?) that has been spent on it.

    Will the BBC admit it's got things wrong and take steps to rectify its mistakes?

  • Comment number 2.

    Thank goodness! Sense has prevailed. I am pleased that the Beeb has actually listened on this issue. Always remember that this is BBC SPORT and not BBC FOOTBALL.

  • Comment number 3.

    I like the new updated look, much easier to use. One thing I find difficult is noticing the difference in colour between read and unread links.

  • Comment number 4.

    The video clips on your web pages still don't work in Firefox. They do work in Internet Explorer. When will this be fixed?

  • Comment number 5.

    I'm glad youve added this back, I used it a lot before and this definately makes the new version of the BBC Homepage a lot better than it was prior to the redesign.

  • Comment number 6.

    Couple of things ...

    dougalan, I would thank you to not attempt to pass your opinion off as the opinion of all of us. I am very pleased with the new look and style of the site. Its useability hasn't suffered one iota in my opinion, and the changes in content, addition of more video etc. (as well as the change in resolution - the site was looking increasingly ridiculous on my large monitor) are great.

    You are right ... change for change's sake is not good, but neither is opposing change for the sake of opposing it.

    Also, the new commenting system, with system wide single login, works fine for me and is a huge step in the right direction.

    And Murray, I have absolutely no problem whatsoever watching the video clips in either Firefox (either the latest edition of v2 or v3beta) or IE7. Is your Flash Player up to date?

  • Comment number 7.

    It's better now I'm getting used to it ,but could you change the colours between read and unread links? Ta.

  • Comment number 8.

    Thanks for this update, Ben, and yes, I'm very pleased that the "digest" has re-appeared. Now if only something can be done about the ugly double banner at the top of the page that takes up so much vertical space!

  • Comment number 9.

    Reinstating the breif round up of headlines is a a good first step, but the general layout of the front page is still not right. (Though the layout of the individual story pages is very nice).
    Having the secondary headlines on the right hand side of the page, diminshes their impact, which is something you seem to recognise as there has often been two main stories in the central column. Move them back to the centre where they should be and put the features and comments on the right.
    Also nobody has yet explained the point of two massive double banners that take up way too much space. The new resolution was designed as users with larger monitors used to see a tiny area of used space. But now those with smaller screens have a vast percentage the visible page taken up with the banners.
    The worst aspect of the new site though has to be the complete inconsistency of layout from one day to the next. Some days whuge pictures and little text, others a small picture and lots of text. Some days almost all stories have an image next to them (this looks particularly dreadful for the stories currently in the right hand column and makes the page look unbalanced), other days only the main story does. Some days we get mainly links to video stories, and other days we get mainly links to text stories. The users doesn't know from one day to the next what they are going to find when they go to the home page - its not right.
    The frustrating thing is that the content is all there, but the positioning and layout are so poor that the front page's useability and look makes you less likely to want to actually try to find that content.

  • Comment number 10.

    I like the new look, its very good.
    Lets hope that the BBC Sport website comes into line with the BBC Homepage by allowing us to shift whatever we think as important sport around the page, like the homepage.
    I dont agree that Football should dominate the main headlines if major sports such as Rugby or Motorsport are on.

  • Comment number 11.

    The video clips on your web pages still don't work in Safari on my apple mac, which is a real shame as iPlayer works fine... When will this be fixed?

  • Comment number 12.

    Same here, video clips don't work in Safari. This is Safari 3.1.1 and 3.0.

    They do play on the same OS in Firefox.

  • Comment number 13.

    I'm afraid that you are sounding more like a politician now; you say that you are listening, but I'm sorry to say you appear to have missed the point completely.

    Look at your Sport homepage from 2003 - you had the main feature story at the top, interesting articles on the right hand side, and then below it a comprehensive section devoted to various sport headlines (ie content).

    Todays offering doesn't even come close to that on content. Look at the so-called headlines that you decided so kindly to give us back - they are days out of date. For example Valentino Rossi won the Chinese GP on 4th May, it's now 7th May. Today the Motorsport headlines in that lower section should be Super Aguri and Max Mosely.

    Guess what that would do? It would allow you to put the central Features and Comments area onto the right hand side of the page. This would then move up the headline section, which would help those who don't have huge monitors.

    I almost get the impression looking at the left hand side of the page that you are aware of the issue of smaller windows because of the fact that your sport menu fits comfortably without scrolling.

    Those who want to look at all the features in the centre of the page will still look for them - I firmly believe that you are alienating those of us who want to use your page as a sports news page.

    I'm not a software expert, but how difficult is it to swap the positions of the "Features and Comment" section and the "More from BBC Sport" section?

  • Comment number 14.

    It's been over two weeks since audio and video content on the BBC site became unavailable to users of Mac OSX. I know we're a small part of the overall visitor numbers but still, this is a simple issue to fix and very annoying for those of us not on the 'hallowed' OS. Isn't it abut time this was fixed?


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