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A new look

Steve Herrmann Steve Herrmann | 17:55 UK time, Friday, 28 March 2008

It’s been a time of even more hectic activity than usual here on the BBC News website over the past week or two. Our development and design teams have been putting the finishing touches behind the scenes to a new look for the site which - all being well - we're aiming to launch next week.

A graphic of the BBC News websiteFor the journalists it's been a period of familiarisation with the changes, and briefings on how it will affect the way they create pages in our content production system.

I'll go into more detail about the changes once you’re able to see them for yourselves, but the new look will include wider pages, bigger images, a new programmes area on the front page and a new pan-BBC masthead.

Overall the idea is to make the whole site even easier to use, creating more room for the content to be easily seen and scanned.

Along with this, as I mentioned previously, we’ve been gradually rolling out a new system for showing video and audio – embedding it within our story pages (here’s an example) so it’s quicker and simpler to access. It’s confined to just some stories for now, and we’ve been assessing how it’s doing.

Early signs suggest that on those stories where we’ve embedded the video in a story, as opposed to providing the link to a pop-up player as we've done up to now, the video gets about ten times more usage than before. So it looks like it’s working well so far… More soon on the rest of the changes.


I cannot express how pleased I am that you're making the page wider. Nearly half my browser on BBC News is white space, and it really bugs me! It's the best bit about the new site design (so far).

If it's going to look like the new homepage then even better! Will it feature more customisable/localised content/blocks etc?

  • 2.
  • At 10:51 PM on 28 Mar 2008,
  • Chris wrote:

Any chance of introducing a site that scales to the width of the screen rather than a fixed width design? Or is that too hard?

The new homepage is absolutely excellent. Well done BBC, probably one of the most user-friendly and useful homepages I have ever seen.

Apart from Google for a few months, I haven't had a homepage installed for yyears - I've always gone to blank. But now I have BBC installed because I know I will see what I want to see. Brilliant.

Well done.

  • 4.
  • At 10:02 AM on 30 Mar 2008,
  • Miles wrote:

The inline video works really well. It is a little frustrating when I can't view it (because I'm in Canada), but that's the same for videos in popups. Flash is a much better choice than the proprietary players like Real and Windows Media.

I look forward to seeing the redesign. I was hugely impressed with CNN's redesign last year. Their current site is leaps and bounds better than the old one and I use it far more than I used to. The BBC news site is still my main news source and, although the current site is ok, an improved site that is designed for media and wider screens will be most welcome.

  • 5.
  • At 11:01 AM on 30 Mar 2008,
  • Mame du Bois wrote:

I was thinking just a few weeks ago, 'why don't they use the video like on the technology stories for all the news stories'. It is a good use of technology - it also opens the way for audio for the sight impaired. Looking forward to seeing the new look site.

  • 6.
  • At 02:10 PM on 30 Mar 2008,
  • Gyorgy Lengyel wrote:

Dear Sir,
i read with great joy your news.i am looking forward to read and listen and watch your new version of BBC news,
yours sincerely
Gyorgy lengyel

  • 7.
  • At 03:31 PM on 30 Mar 2008,
  • michel.f.proulx wrote:

Hope all of this means bigger AND BOLDER typefaces.

The font of this article, for instance, is small and NOT BOLD. That means that anyone with impaired vision has great difficulties reading it, and that magnification and re-magnifications are required.

It would be nice if our magnification + settings from previous sessions were kept 'on file' so the process does not have to be repeated each time we access the site.

cheers, and thank you,


  • 8.
  • At 04:47 PM on 30 Mar 2008,
  • Jeremy McGeary wrote:

So far so good.
I always feel uneasy when websites decide to "improve" because I live in the rural USA where my only access to the Internet is via dial-up.
I like that I can see the text imediately, that it's not delayed while endless video and ads try to download through my skinny wire.
As long as the video is still an "option" I can still visit my number one news site. Where else will I find the BBC Test Match Special?
Who knows, maybe one day the cable will stretch this way and I'll be able to watch the clips as well. I'm not holding my breath.
Thank you, BBC, for keeping things simple.

  • 9.
  • At 07:08 PM on 30 Mar 2008,
  • fatima wrote:

Iam not happy with the right of speech on BBc.Whenever I post a comment it is never published.I know you cencor them but I said nothing objective for not publishing my comment....and if there was a freedom of speech policy why censor peoples messages....

  • 10.
  • At 11:12 AM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • Peter Hughes wrote:

Sorry, don't like the new ser up

  • 11.
  • At 11:19 AM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • Mike Wood wrote:

Yes. I was one of those who said, in effect, 'not broke - DON'T!'. Fat chance.

My eyes are the normal distance apart. I read at 10-15 inches [Inches? Oops!] from the page. A 10-to-12-inch page has become the norm in print for a very good reason.

Landscape formats are for designers, not readers. Your new page width demands sideways scrolling. Not good. Disastrous. And a 75% screen magnification isn't good either.

Please get it right.

  • 12.
  • At 11:20 AM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • EB wrote:

Well done! Much easier and clearer to read.

  • 13.
  • At 11:39 AM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • jackie wrote:

Loving the new look. Very straightforward and clear. Well done to the designers and the techs who made it happen.

  • 14.
  • At 11:40 AM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • Mark Stokes wrote:

New features may be useful, haven't tried any yet, but the "look" of the new format is awful. The bigger print and extra line spaces wastefully fill the screen so I now have to scroll down to see things which pretty well all fitted on a single screen before. The bold black font headings were far more effective than the coloured fonts now employed. A significant backward step for the premier news organisation.

  • 15.
  • At 11:46 AM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • Danielle De Lanoy wrote:

Whatever you just did to the website, could you please undo it? Or at the very least return the live radio link and the tabs to the top? It's suddenly become much harder to navigate the site and find the radio.

  • 16.
  • At 11:51 AM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • Jack wrote:

The wider format is much better but in general the pages are bland and look much like other sites. The individuality has gone.

  • 17.
  • At 12:41 PM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • Gwyn Evans wrote:

I'd really like to know the proportion of approvals to disapprovals - Want to put it to a vote?

This can't be determined from the comment thread, as these are moderated comments and not all those being submitted are appearing.

I like the new clean web 2 style look. But i would prefer a fluid skin rather then fixed one as it looks much better on large monitors and does not waste space.
The other thing is when you look at individual stories, the right side bar is a bit too wide. I personally think that introducing an AJAX dynamic side bar will be a better option as it gives user much control on the look and feel of the site. If i am not wrong then this is what you are trying to achieve with the new site

  • 19.
  • At 01:11 PM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • Denyer wrote:

The new frontpage, whilst "cleaner", has far too much spacing between links on the page. On the old smaller design it was possible to scan the "Around the world" and "Latest headline" sections without moving ones eyes at all. However now I find it impossible to scan through the frontpage as the links blend with section headers.

Obviously my input will never be acted on, but I for one will be using the BBC as an RSS source from now on, as reading the site itself has become too difficult.

The BBC websites have always been clean, clear and well laid out. I could not fault it. However, I do not like the new wide format; it means I have to maximize the window on my browser meaning the main text is now off-centre.
Please change it back!

  • 21.
  • At 01:19 PM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • fred crippen wrote:

Personally I feel the new presentation offers little apart from the 3rd column. The so-called extra space doesn't apply to me however - I don't live in the UK which qualifies me to receive adverts in the extra space. Now I along with others, I don't doubt, simply use one of the ad blockers to be found on the web - this takes the advert out - but leaves the space blank. I would be grateful if some kind person out there has a suggestion on how to utilise this blank space for better use.

I also feel that the BBC, and especially Steve Herrmann would be doing a better job by improving the content rather than the presentation - The content is getting more like the Sun every day.

  • 22.
  • At 01:22 PM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • Nicholas Russell wrote:

Another problem with the fixed width idea is that it only works if you use browser full screen. If you are in the habit of having your Favourites on the left of your browser you have to scroll to see left of page. Very poor design. The page either need to be made to fill only available width (preferred) or the set width needs to be smaller.

The BBC websites have always been clean, clear and well laid out. I could not fault it. However, I do not like the new wide format; I think it is too big, looks scruffy and more difficult to read. Please change it back!

  • 24.
  • At 01:26 PM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • Helen wrote:

Improvements for some are a backward step for others! I have had BBC New's Science & Nature page as my homepage for 4 years. The page has always been a perfect fit for my screen - no unused space etc. But this new layout is too wide and I have to keep dragging the scroll bar across to see the righthand side of the page. I've only been doing it a short while and already it's driving me nuts!
Does anyone know a way I can make it all fit the screen again? (My monitor has a 15 3/4 inch screen (diagonal), of which 15 inches is viewable screen). Otherwise I'll have to find a new homepage, which I don't really want to have to do as I've been so happy with S&N.
Sorry BBC, but the niggle is just too great unless I can fix it. I'm sure for most people it's an improvement, so it won't matter that it's worse for the minority. I dare say the features are better too, but it's so annoying having to scroll across all the time that I haven't the will to find out! I hate web pages that are too wide! During a one-off search or whatever, it's ok, but not for a homepage which gets checked umpteen times per day. :o(

  • 25.
  • At 01:30 PM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • Paul wrote:

I really hate the new website. It is far too wide for me to use on a mobile device any more, and much more difficult to get to the stories.
Is there any way to still use the older interface or are we stuck with this now?

  • 26.
  • At 01:38 PM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • Vee wrote:

I usually visit the BBC news site a dozen times every day.

I shalln't be doing so in future because the new layout is impossible to read without scrolling up and down and side-to-side.

A third of the screen is now wasted with a header telling me that this is the BBC site and offering me a choice of graphics.

The text now appears double spaced so lots of white space to look at.

Only the lead story and picture can be seen with out scrolling.

Very poor indeed.

  • 27.
  • At 02:07 PM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • Peter J Roberts wrote:

I am already missing the direct link to my local area's weather and top stories!
Or is it just obscure now?

  • 28.
  • At 02:10 PM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • graham chambers wrote:

Do you never post comments which are not complimentary regarding your new look. I find it awful, hard to read with a font which seems deliberately chosen to cause eyestrain, particularly among older viewers whose eyesight is not what it was. My comment of earlier today has been ignored. Why? This is not Zimbabwe.

  • 29.
  • At 02:38 PM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • Me wrote:

OK you may have made it wider, but why you need to take 2 inches at the top of screen space for a search bar and BBC News logo strip? Can you think these out a bit please?

  • 30.
  • At 03:02 PM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • AndyB wrote:

The page width is too wide, sorry but I don't like having to stretch my browser out so much. Its just a bit too big.

The pages are inconsistent width - this page, for example, renders at the old width as does some of the main section pages (eg business, technology etc). Unfortunately, the home page is wide and the article pages are wide too. Its a bit annoying.

Umm.. that's it. The new look is good though.

I may be in a minority, but although my screen may be 1024x768, that
is not the resolution at which my applications run. I often (nee all
the time) have many applications open at once and the most efficient
way to know what's going on in all of them is to have them layered and
*not* filling the whole screen.

The old 600 wide layout was perfect for this and was a design concept
I would reccomend to others too. The new design, however, doesn't
actually provide any more space for actual content but, instead, makes
the navigation bars around the edge much "bigger" (that is wider and
fatter). This means I need to scroll off the side to see some of the
sidebar content (which annoys me greatly on any page -- sideways
scrolling should never be required).

Furthermore, what were considered headings further down the page under
"AROUND THE UK NOW", the section headings used to be bold and are no
longer. This makes it much harder to skim down for what you're looking

I am aware that people far cleverer than I have had a hand in creating
this new design, however it is, in my opinion, a step too far into the
"Web 2.0" idiom. The site was, previously, clean, concise and easy to
navigate for all. That is no longer the case, I fear.

  • 32.
  • At 03:29 PM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • John wrote:

OK clean But
it was fine before and got awards for it's layout

And I expect most people check this site whilst there email is on in the background.
But it is now covered up !!

Not progress


  • 33.
  • At 03:55 PM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • Jon Thorne wrote:

To be frank, I'm not impressed with this new look BBC News website. The use of better video technology is always welcomed but the space that some have been calling for and which has obviously been delivered does nothing for the looks of the site, with large wasted spaces, epecially under the main story picture(!).

Whatsmore, the functionality has been affected too! Instead of having everything accessible on one page, free of excessive scrolling, the site forces you to work to find the local news - the result will be less people looking there and, like myself, searching for alternative sources for online news. A great shame considering the old format worked fine! It appears as if the old addage, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" has been ignored once again....

  • 34.
  • At 04:07 PM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • Chris Flynn wrote:

Love the new look!

Buffalo, NY (USA)

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