The fresh face of football
Regular users of the BBC Sport website will be aware that we re-launched our front page and the design for our individual story pages at the end of March. We also promised at the same time that our other indexes would all follow suit, over a gradual period. Today the next big index is getting that makeover.
So users of our main football page will today see it change to be more consistent with our front page. We know that some users bookmark the football page or subscribe to it, and for those users the design will be brand new, but for anyone who goes through bbc.co.uk/sport to get to football, there should not be too much by way of a surprise.
Ben Gallop, the Head of BBC Sport Interactive, blogged in March about why we were changing the front page of the site, and he blogged again at the start of May to update on some of the changes we had made to that design based on feedback from our users. It's worth checking out both those blogs to get a feel for why we're making these changes to our pages but I will re-iterate our reasons here and also give a rough guide to when some of our other sport-by-sport pages are likely to change.
BBC News and BBC Sport are determined to keep refreshing this website to stay ahead of the game - BBC News changed when this site did, in March, and the BBC homepage also had a major re-design recently.
In Sport, we wanted to make more of the space available on our pages, now that 95% of people have their screen resolution set to 1024 pixels or wider, so the story pages were stretched and the "index-level" pages will be too. We wanted to make more use of pictures, to capture the drama and excitement of sport, and we also needed to showcase our best feature content in a more striking way. We think the Sport front page has been able to do that since the re-design, and we are looking forward to the football page doing the same.
We also wanted to make audio and video more prominent, given the BBC's strong portfolio of rights including Euro 2008, the Olympics, Wimbledon, the Six Nations, live radio commentaries of the Premier League and Test match cricket, and from 2009, Formula One and the Football League in video. We have been able to use audio and video across the whole front page recently, where it is editorially relevant, and not tucked away in its own section, which seemed increasingly anomalous.
It's worth adding also that the March re-design co-incided with us launching video as embeds in pages, rather than launching in separate windows. This has dramatically improved the traffic to AV, even though a lot of our rights to show live action are restricted to the UK only.
One important point about the football page - we promise to make sure the Gossip column is still present and obvious. It's one of the most popular pieces of content across bbc.co.uk, never mind the Sport site, so we know lots of you will want to know exactly where it is. It will still be on the right-hand side of the page, roughly midway down, and it will not move around. For those of who subscribe to Gossip (or indeed this blog) on feed readers, nothing will change (except we'll continue to keep thinking about how we can improve the content within the Gossip column ...)
From there we will look to roll out the re-design to all our pages, with the sporting calendar in mind. So it was vital that the football page was overhauled before Euro 2008 (and even better that we've done it before the Champions League final) and we'll be aiming to do the tennis page before Wimbledon, the Olympics page (and the athletics page) well before the Beijing Games, the cricket page before England's Test series against South Africa, golf before the Ryder Cup, the rugby union and rugby league pages before the autumn (when Union kicks off again and League will be preparing for the World Cup), etc.
These dates might yet change, and in the meantime we'll also keep iterating the re-designed indexes we do have. For instance, as well as bringing back the list of headlines at the foot of the Sport homepage, we're also re-thinking the mastheads at the top amongst a host of other iterations.
So please keep giving us your feedback - for instance, how you feel about the Sport front page now two months on - and we'll keep listening.