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BBC News website redesign (5)

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Steve Herrmann Steve Herrmann | 15:54 UK time, Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Thank you for all your feedback on the BBC News website redesign. There has been a lot of it, and we'll continue to sort through the comments and e-mails we've been receiving, identifying specific issues we can address and adding answers to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page.

Most of you commenting here on the Editors blog have been critical, with many urging us to change the design back to the way it was. Given the strength of feeling expressed in some of the comments, I'd like to explain again, as clearly as I can, what our thinking is.

• Reverting to the old design is not something we're considering, but building and continuing to improve on the changes we've made certainly is.
• We are looking closely at the comments and feedback we are getting on all aspects of the new design, and we'll also be carefully watching usage, traffic and conducting further audience research, as we would after any such change.
• There will be a review process and if changes need to be made, they will be considered as part of that.
• There are a few things not yet working exactly the way they should be - our developers and designers are tackling those now, and we are addressing them in the FAQs.
• The changes we have made are based on careful research and thinking about how the site can work at its best now, and how we can make sure it is adaptable enough to continue to evolve, not stand still.

Along with everyone else on the design, technical and editorial teams here who have worked together to try to improve the site and the systems which produce it, I hope you will grow to like it, if you don't already (and thanks to those of you who have let us know you do!)

Here's what we've already said about the reasons for the new design, why we didn't run a public beta and the thinking behind the design itself.

Many of the specific issues you've raised are tackled in our FAQs page and we've added some further updates there, which are also summarised below.

Thanks again to all who have commented here - I'm sorry I haven't been able to reply to everyone individually. The intention of these blog posts over the past couple of weeks has been to let you know what we are doing, and why. I hope that even if you are one of those who doesn't agree with what we've done, you at least understand a bit more about it.

We'll continue to follow the feedback, and to address specific issues where we can in the FAQs page.

  • Where has Europe and other world regional weather gone?
We are currently working on better ways to present weather in our world regional sections, and hope to re-introduce it soon.

  • Why don't you have a single list of the main News blogs linked from the front page?
We do not currently have a single destination page aggregating all our News blogs, but we link to blogs individually on relevant section indexes around the site, also on related stories and on the front page, depending on the news agenda. All the blogs are also linked to from the right hand navigation within any individual blog post. There is now a new section on many of the main indexes called "Expert Views" which does provide a home for blogs in the respective subject areas. For these reasons we do not currently have a permanent link to all of them on the front page.

  • Can I turn off the Facebook option?
Some of you have contacted us to say that your work computer blocks access to Facebook which is causing you problems looking at our pages that embed the Facebook "Recommend" button. We're working to see if there is an automatic solution to this, but in the mean time, if you would like to remove these Facebook buttons, then you can do so by clicking here to set a cookie. This will tell us not to show you the Facebook buttons. If you would like the Facebook buttons back at any point, simply clear your cookies. If you clear your cookies you will need to visit the link above again to re-hide the Facebook buttons.

  • Why does video slow down my story page download?
Some of you have reported that the video player in our stories is sometimes slowing down your experience of using our site. This will be particularly true if you are using a slower connection, but we are aware that it is an issue and are working to resolve it as soon as possible.

  • Is the site designed just for large screens?
We tested the site extensively on all modern browsers and screen resolutions, however, we have received a number of comments from some of you with small screens saying that the text on our pages is too close to the left hand side of your screens - we are still investigating this

Steve Herrmann is editor of the BBC News website.


Page 1 of 11

  • Comment number 1.

    Well its great to know you have ignored our comments and requests,i am off to a better site, the BBC is going backwards, shame as it was a good place to visit, bye bye

  • Comment number 2.

    The issues regarding the fonts, the white space, the bizarre interpretations of local settings etc etc etc were all pretty much flagged up days and days ago. When are we going to get some fixes rather than just explanations as to why the revamp was a good idea? It's about time there was some sort of timetable / roadmap for how this is going to move forward.

  • Comment number 3.

    Sorry to say this Steve, but it appears like you are completely ignoring the wishes of the people that are paying for this site...
    All you appear to be doing is steam rolling over peoples honest opinions with re iterations of the same information that we all knew was there from day 1

    Your quote "Given the strength of feeling expressed in some of the comments, I'd like to explain again, as clearly as I can, what our thinking is" is truly an insult.

    You are attempting to treat those with an opinion based on solid understanding of the facts like children who 'need to be told'.

    We have all read the FAQ's and the numerous blogs from yourself and others on this matter...
    This doesn't change the fact that so far the vocal majority do not like the changes.

    You haven't acceded to apply a vote.
    You haven't given us a representation of the numbers that have been readily available elsewhere that you seem to be hanging onto for dear life.
    Your FAQ mentions
    You are quite frankly insulting us.

    Answer a few simple Q's, please Steve.

    Will your 'review process' include the possibility that you have made a mistake in implementing this re-design?

    You keep mentioning progress, but isn't this simply about revenue from previously untapped sources and coupled with the fact that only half the project is ready?

    Why have you ruled out the possibility that the site is not going to be reverted?

    Oh and finally, please be more prompt with your updates...

  • Comment number 4.


    You make the comment that "thousands" were allowed to see the prototype site, so therefore could you answer some specific questions.

    1. When was the 'prototype' site available for viewing? A number of people have commented on your earlier posting saying they only got to see it 2-3 weeks before the launch.

    2. What was done to ensure feedback from the 'prototype' site was then fedback into the design before launch?

    4. What rollback plan did you have in place before launch of the new site? It would be somewhat surprising to find out that senior BBC managers signed off on a 'sh*t or bust' implementation.

    5. There have been numerous specific and detailed points raised in the comments section by people wanting to have certain things addressed. Rather then a general 'we are looking at things' fob off answer could you please tell us, the licence payers, when specific raised issues are going to be addressed, an organisation the size of the BBC must surely be able to publish a list of items, what is intended to do to correct them and timescale for doing it.

    6. Give the Alexa numbers are suggesting site traffic is down between 15% and 20% on the BBC news site when you take into account that news represents about 50% of total traffic would you consider the redesign a success?

    I'm sorry to come across as pi**ed off but I'd really like to hear less justification of why and how it happened and more "this is what we're going to do to fix it quickly".

  • Comment number 5.

    Weak Steve, really weak.

    "Most of you commenting here on the Editors blog have been critical, with many urging us to change the design back to the way it was. Given the strength of feeling expressed in some of the comments, I'd like to explain again, as clearly as I can, what our thinking is"

    Why don't you just stop thinking and put it back the way it was? You have just acknowledged that most of us are unhappy with what you have done, yet you persist with this debacle. Anywhere else apart from the BBC, a head would have rolled and the site would have been rolled back.

  • Comment number 6.

    Yay another blog to tell us how wrong we all are.

  • Comment number 7.

    Sorry, Mr. Herrmann, but your post above just isn't an answer to anyone. I do appreciate the Facebook-removal option, however, but I'm not sure whether it's also blocking whatever Facebook-linked tracking software you have running.

    Sadly, however, your post left me with an unshakeable feeling that you're adopting a position of "stand very still, and hope the storm blows past." There isn't a 'change to your existing design' possible that removes the need to scroll for half a metre just to see the content of the home page, and as such, your site is no longer useful to me.

    The fact that you choose to post an FAQ response to "Why isn't there a link to all News blogs", but make no comment on the fact that your font is illegible on many Windows systems, or any of the other major problems, implies that you're only looking for easy, low-hanging fruit to respond to. (FYI - a "return to top" button is about 3 lines of Javascript at most, and wouldn't/shouldn't break anything, so I don't know why that didn't fall into the "easy" category, unless you want people to scroll back to the top to double-show US ads, of course.)

    "Along with everyone else on the design, technical and editorial teams here who have worked together to try to improve the site and the systems which produce it, I hope you will grow to like it."

    Sorry, nothing for me to like here. It's a pity, really, because there was a post in your last blog that linked to your designer's initial mock-ups, and they were 10 times better than what you've ended up with (albeit still worse than the pre-update version).

  • Comment number 8.

    The "On This Day" section seems to have vanished in the redesigned site. Is this intentional or just an oversight? I imagine it probably doesn't get much traffic, but it can be quite interesting.


  • Comment number 9.

    How much of our money has this disaster cost?

  • Comment number 10.

    "I'd like to explain again, as clearly as I can, what our thinking is"

    And I would like to explain again, as clearly as I can, what your customers' thinking is:

    The vast majority don't like it, and explaining it again isn't going to change that fact.

    Is that clear?

  • Comment number 11.

    Steve (and fellow sufferers),

    Very disappointed that this does not address most of the concerns expressed, including very specific ones about usability and others about BBC policy.

    The most serious question, for me, is this: Does this redesign violate the Corporation's charter? It was explicitly done to satisfy BBC Worldwide's desire to please overseas advertisers, as described by Miranda Creswell, senior VP for

    The 10 Washington reporters for this site (and a 25-strong US-based ad sales force) are being paid for directly by BBC Worldwide.

    Why isn't this redesigning of the UK site and its content (even if it cannot be fully seen by American/Canadian and other international readers) a violation of the charter which requires independence from commercial considerations?

    Isn't sharing users' IP addresses with Facebook unless they insert a cookie (which is hardly easy to find) on their browser - apparently as a source of revenue based on non-UK IPs - also a violation of BBC privacy standards and of EU data protection?

    I understand that this is difficult for someone who is trying to be loyal to the BBC. But this is a public trust which requires honesty and transparency.

    As for all the complaints about ruining the best news web site in the world, would you post what has happened to traffic so far? Normally when a new site launches with lots of splash it goes way up at least initially. What happened here?

    And, finally, 4,000 comments about 95% of them highly negative. Doesn't this require something more?

  • Comment number 12.

    " Reverting to the old design is not something we're considering,"

    Goodbye BBC News online!

  • Comment number 13.

    I was at first unhappy and critical of the new design. However after a week, I have gotten used to it and can now see why changes were made. I do like the 'features' section on the right hand side of each page. There is a few things I think needs sorting out, like the amount of white space but overall its good!

  • Comment number 14.

    "Reverting to the old design is not something we're considering"

    Thank you.


  • Comment number 15.

    Sigh, sorry for double-posting so early in the topic, but:

    "Why does video slow down my story page download?
    Some of you have reported that the video player in our stories is sometimes slowing down your experience of using our site. This will be particularly true if you are using a slower connection, but we are aware that it is an issue and are working to resolve it as soon as possible."

    This is also a fairly major issue for me. I'm not quite up to par on JS/embedded player integration in websites, so this is a layman's opinion, but there are two questions I have.

    1) Regardless of which computer I use, the big box, Watch/Listen, gets rendered on my screen twice, in very different ways. Initially, it comes as 7/8 stories arranged vertically, then it "snaps" to the normal view. I don't know if that's intentional or not?

    2) I'd be curious to know, since you have a cookie for outing Facebook, whether you couldn't set a similar thing with an on/off switch for the videos?

    (PS: Not a personal problem as I'll never want the FB buttons back ever, but it's not exactly convenient to have to wipe all cookies to get them back. I still think your solution is (for the first time) a genuine improvement, however.)

  • Comment number 16.

    Actually, removing BBC as my home page was very hard to do as I have always held "Auntie" in great esteem, high regards, and with great affection, but once I press "Post Comment" at the end of this message.

    I don't care anymore.

  • Comment number 17.

    I really don't see this simply going away if you ignore it long enough.

  • Comment number 18.

    Stories with embedded video are really really slow to open on Safari on my Macbook. Takes about 10/15 seconds to load the video. Slowing the entire browser down to a crawl. I never even watch them anyway!

  • Comment number 19.

    "Reverting to the old design is not something we're considering, but building and continuing to improve on the changes we've made certainly is. "

    It always amuses me when companies disingenuously solicit feedback and opinion and then politely explain how they are going to completely ignore it all. We now know of course that these changes are being driven by the commercial arm of the BBC (see [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator])

    If they are already dictating the format/content of the website, how long before it starts affecting other programming. Perhaps it already has.

    I see there is still no mention of any improvements in interactivity. It has taken a severe nosedive over the last year with the downgrading of HYS to a completely unsuitable blog format. Interactivity is an area where the BBC is being completely left behind.

  • Comment number 20.

    I think you have (probably inadvertently) provided a public service by forcing lazy regular visitors to the BBC News website to try out other providers of news and entertainment.
    After day 1 of the BBC News website re-design I had a quick look elsewhere and have found that Google News (aggregator), The Guardian, Telegraph and even Daily Mail informative, engaging, entertaining, and most importantly none of those give me a navigation (or physical) headache, like the new BBC News website does. So thanks for opening my eyes to other News sites that are out there.

  • Comment number 21.

    Although I quite like the redesign overall (and, thank goodness, the local weather works much better now), when I use my RSS reader (FeedDemon 3.0) and click through to view a news piece, the layout / font is frankly terrible - kerning wrong, overlapping text etc. I'd send a screenshot if it were allowed ...

  • Comment number 22.

    "Reverting to the old design is not something we're considering, but building and continuing to improve on the changes we've made certainly is"

    Returning to the old layout would be the single greatest improvement you could make. I sincerely hope the hubris you have demonstrated in this matter is your downfall.

  • Comment number 23.

    • Reverting to the old design is not something we're considering, but building and continuing to improve on the changes we've made certainly is.
    The statement above shows your arrogance BYE

  • Comment number 24.

    Put a vote on the name site, make it easy for everyone to see (shouldn't be hard, you have enough space) and see what the response is of the paying (ie. UK) public.

    If the majority say they like the site then you have proved all of us wrong, if the majority say they dislike it, then you can start to implement a roll back to the award winning site you had before.

  • Comment number 25.

    I see Mr Herrmann is still adamantly refusing to leave lalaland.
    But please don't give up, my fellow bbc newssite devotees and licence-payers.
    The old site was too good to be vandalised like this.

  • Comment number 26.

    Clearly, the new design reflects the BBC’s continuing journey into populist/red-top/tabloid territory, and in that sense, I think it’s been very successful. The disdain being shown towards users who raise perfectly valid issues about good design, is a typical response from Auntie, who always thinks she knows best. Bless.

  • Comment number 27.

    I can see you ARE slowly sorting out some of the issues that people have ie White space is getting less, Borders seem to be shrinking and the line spacing is slowly getting back towards normal.
    But you still have no decernable layout on the home page. Its messy and disjointed .I'm sorry But I really prefered the side menu and there is still crazy amounts of scrolling needed to see anything.
    I am trying to get used to the changes without just hating them because I liked the old site. But I am physically not able to view as many stories as I did due to constant scrolling and extra clicks to get to the pages I want.
    I really can't see how this is any Improvement on the previous site.

  • Comment number 28.

    Considering the whole redesign has been introduced to create a new US edition of the site that can sport Ads, I have the following comment.

    You are ignoring the license-fee paying british public to earn american money.
    I find the whole debacle offensive, and think it heralds the end of the TV license. When people realise they are paying taxes (a rose by any other name.. ) for something that already is already collecting ad revenue, they will force the BBC to be completely Ad supported, Home and Abroad.

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.


    Judging by the comments on this blog and speaking to many of my friends, the single biggest criticism of the redesign is that people now find it HARDER and LONGER to navigate your site.

    I think the one element that most people miss is the vertical navigation bar. It is a fact that humans find it easier to read lists in a vertical format as opposed to horizontal (as it is now). For commercial reasons it is difficult for your competitors to use vertical navigation bars as this usually gets taken up by adverts. The BBC is throwing away it's unique advantage over other websites and has come up with a generic news site that anyone could have come up with! We pay our license fee to get a style and quality of service that isn't possible from commercial providers - not to mimic them!

    I cannot see why you could not revert to this popular style, I fear that if you don't people will drift away from using it, as it will not offer anything that isn't available elsewhere on the net - and in many cases is done much better.

  • Comment number 31.

    Actually, can I have a go at drafting update (6) for you? Try this ...

    "We have been hoping that your comments would have dried up now, but as they keep coming please be reassured that we are considering them very carefully. Yes indeedy. Every last one. Sort of.

    In response to your comments we have updated the FAQs explaining that we have had to make these changes because things can't stand still. Not for a moment. Has to be done. Busy, busy people. I can't of course admit to you that we have done this to incorporate the ads on the international site because that would be giving too much away. But let me reassure you that the experience of our users is a fairly important consideration, always provided it doesn't conflict with our overly-prescriptive style guidelines which we are very proud of and which we have almost finished writing.

    Finally we will be introducing changes in response to some of the points you've raised as soon as possible. Which will be very soon. I can't tell you when, but it will certainly be soon. Or soonish. Probably. But don't hold your breaths"

    There. How does that sound?

  • Comment number 32.

    Looking back at, which was the previous redesign 2 years ago. It's essentially the exact same comments. "Dumbing down" "If it's not broken don't fix it" etc. etc. If that redesign was so awful, then why are all you lot complaining about the new one!

  • Comment number 33.

    "If they are already dictating the format/content of the website, how long before it starts affecting other programming. Perhaps it already has."

    Why do you think the beeb has so many 45 minute programs?

  • Comment number 34.

    Please be less defensive and more forthcoming in what you are willing to take on board of the many, many valid criticisms posted here.

    Either that, or simply remove the comments section, and put us out of our misery.

  • Comment number 35.

    Well I've been wondering about this and now I know why this just does not fit the bill. I used to be able to scan all the important news headlines quickly and easily on a single page prior to this update (I can't call it an upgrade as that implies it has improved). This site is so much worse than it was before and I simply do not see all the information I had before IN ONE PLACE. I have been a BBC user for years and now I really do have to consider going elsewhere to read news online. I just cannot express how strongly I feel that this is a HUGE backwards step, and it would seem like there are many many people who feel exactly as I do. Do not put your head in the sand over this, the BBC has had a well deserved reputation for the quality of its news coverage online and this change has set you back considerably.

  • Comment number 36.

    Doesnt it show truely breathtaking arrogance to explicitly rule out a return to the old format given the truely massive negative response the redesign has engendered.

    The BBC is charged with providing high quality output at good value for money for the british license payer. How is a downgraded, dumbed down mediocrity enabled to support advertising that the public dont want and facebook integration for a minority not bothered about their own online privacy.

  • Comment number 37.

    "Reverting to the old design is not something we're considering, but building and continuing to improve on the changes we've made certainly is"

    Why didn't you build on the old design? Why couldn't you just improve the image/video quality, make more spacious etc... the old, far superior, BBC News page. Why did you waste my money changing something that worked? All you have done is annoyed people and made some web developers/design gurus very rich. It's a shame the BBC isn't directly controlled buy the government, as if it were than perhaps this "age of austerity" culture would have stopped this pointless redesign.

  • Comment number 38.

    It takes a strong man to admit defeat. Steve, how about addressing the awful navigation bar at the top of the page. What did your "1000s of users" have to say about that in the beta?

    Or is it just that a few BBC employees and their families were invited to take a long if they fancied. I bet none submitted feedback.

    You have ruined a great website. Well done

  • Comment number 39.

    I like the new design. IMO it looks good, has a clean design and is easy to navigate. I'm not a big fan of the fixed width but that hasn't changed.

    My only complaint - the Sport site is now inconsistent with News which is a shame.

  • Comment number 40.

    "Reverting to the old design is not something we're considering" - what an attitude. At least you came straight out with it. I bet my boots that you will be taking back that statement pretty soon. The design is rubbish. The criticisms are valid, start listening!

  • Comment number 41.

    Why have you done away with the paper review?

    Worried that we'll leave your site too quickly. That smacks of desperation BBC, but then much of this blog has been desperately trying to justify your revamp in the face of overwhelming opposition.

    Extra opportunities to link to social networking sites? Even as a regular user of FB, I just don't get what need that serves. You're a NEWS organisation and your average readership isn't 12 years old. The whole reworking is a triumph of style over substance but at least it's made me go and investigate other news outlets so like many others I'll be spending a lot more time elsewhere. It would be interesting to know how much traffic you're prepared to lose before you listend to some of the comments on here...

  • Comment number 42.

    I'm afraid its deja-vu all over again. They didnt listen when they forced the international edition on us ex-pats, after taking away the Edition option, and they aren't going to listen now...despite all of Steve's platitudes.

    I hope you spend all your ad revenue more wisely than you have on this disaster.

  • Comment number 43.

    I'm looking at the FAQ page in a 900-pixel wide window right now, and it's not even slightly better.

    The text is immediately against the left-hand side, no margin.

    There is a large column of white-space in the middle, occupied only by the banner and part of the headline at the top, and by the footer at the bottom. At the top the right side has a 'top stories' box, a 'features and analysis' box, and a (giant) 'most popular' box. After that there's nothing. For most of the page, there is a body of text crammed in on the left-hand side, and absolutely nothing in the right. It is an absolutely terrible layout.

    The same FAQ tells me that you've 'been rolling out more of the components that make up the pages, so some of them have appeared with more space than will be typical'. I can't think of anything you could possibly put in the middle of the page to fill this space.

    You know what would work? Having a left-side margin, say 4 or 5cm wide. You could even put something useful in it, like navigation links, which are frequently used on user interfaces for predominantly text-based sites and applications. That improves the layout, and increases usability!

    Yes, I know removing the navigation bar on the left let you 'offer larger images and galleries, videos and interactive graphics', but I don't visit BBC news for any of those thing. I visit BBC news for the news. In text. That is what the layout should prioritise.

    That all sounds like I'm asking for you to revert back to the old design, which you've said you won't even consider doing, but I'm not asking you to do that. Changing the new design so it's almost exactly like the old design would be fine.

  • Comment number 44.

    Well I give up then, moving to another new source, your just blatantly ignoring us Steve and it's very disheartening that the BBC should act in this way to be honest, not only has this attitude put me of the sit it's made me think twice about my TV license, this is the worst design change I've seen on a large commercial website in the last 15 years, thousands and thousands of people complain because of their love of the BBC and the news service that it provides and you just ignore us by way of just regurgitating the same lines which can be summed as as follows, "we know you don't like it, live with it", absolute disgrace, I have lost all faith in the BBC after this.

  • Comment number 45.

    Why bother with all that text BarkingP, when you only need seven letters (well 5 letters but one is used three times) to form two words that send out the same message.

  • Comment number 46.

    Disappointing but not surprising.

    This is a big problem in the UK, the pervasive institutional arrogance that comes from budgets and marketshare based on handouts rather than having to compete in the marketplace. It means you don't have to consider 'users' as customers, you simply give them what you want to, not what they want.

    The irony is that the US market you seem bent on exploiting would not tolerate such a disgusting lack of respect for customers. In the US a company thrives by providing superior service, not by leading a sheltered existence.

    I cannot stand the attitude and approach. Time to leave, delete bookmarks, and vote with my feet. Time for CNN even if their layout is less than ideal, at least they are seeking to provide what their customers want...

  • Comment number 47.

    Reverting to the old design is not something we're considering, but building and continuing to improve on the changes we've made certainly is.
    Dont u think you and your team should leave it to another team .....
    Bet your all not happy with our thas all the MR nobodys like me who use
    sorry that are leaving your rubbish new site. SO WELL DONE TO YOU AND ALL THE TEAM WHOS MADE A RIGHT PIGS HEAR OFF IT .......PS 99 .2 % dont like it the others must be ur team lol sorry bye

  • Comment number 48.

    Still trying to get my head round all this.

    I am a paying customer of the BBC, paying on threat of fines and imprisonment if I refuse to pay. I have no choice.

    In these circumstances I would expect to have some choice about the service I receive for my compulsory levy.

    It appears not.With minimal consultation, still no real evidence of the scope of this has been produced or the feed back from it, a service with which I, and most others, was very happy with has been changed into something I am deeply unhappy with.

    I still check the News page hoping for a drastic change back towards what it was but it stays pretty much the same garish tabloid format with
    poor storylines not updated anything like often enough and appalling navigation.

    Now after thousands of complaints I, and everyone else is told a variation of like it or lump it.

    In the real world a business that upset its customers to the extent that they got mass complaints, letters to the press e-mails to parliament, and, worst of all customers leaving for other outlets in their droves, would change whatever had upset their customers pronto.

    But of course they would or they would go bust. The BBC wont coz it still collects my licence fee whether I use their service or not.

    Mr Herrmann by failing to acknowledge what a disaster this change has been and reverting to something more like the old site you are treating me with contempt.

  • Comment number 49.

    "Reverting to the old design is not something we're considering"

    Wow, that's the attitude! Comment as much as you like, we'll ignore you anyway!

    Well, here is a petition requesting the BBC to revert to the old design:


    Everyone who believes the old design was better please sign, it only takes 10 seconds! Maybe they'll re-consider if we get enough signatures.

  • Comment number 50.

    "There are a few things not yet working exactly the way they should be - our developers and designers are tackling those now..."

    - clearly you did not test this site properly, these are not minor bugs, they are fundamental problems

    "We are currently working on better ways to present weather in our world regional sections, and hope to re-introduce it soon."

    - you state that plenty of research and consideration went into this revamp, would you like to restate that?

    "...we are aware that it is an issue and are working to resolve it as soon as possible."

    - again, not enough consideration for you audience or testing.

    "...the text on our pages is too close to the left hand side of your screens - we are still investigating this."

    - these problems are not small bugs that slipped through, this whole site smacks of an awful level of amateurism.

    "The changes we have made are based on careful research "

    - I think most people don't believe that nonsense.

    "Reverting to the old design is not something we're considering, but building and continuing to improve on the changes we've made certainly is."

    - I can understand that the new content management system might not work with the old site, but what you can do, and there is no doubt about this, is MAKE THE SITE LOOK AND FUNCTION LIKE THE OLD ONE. That will be enough for me.

    In the mean time, I'm working on a greasemoneky script to do that, will post when I have it looking a bit better.

    I suggest again that people contact the Director General and Assistant Director General of the BBC -

    Mark Thompson DG
    Mark Byford

  • Comment number 51.


    Last time they didn't totally change the whole navigational layout of the site. And also they did take on board some of the criticisms. So by the time tempers had clamed and tweaks had been applied, the site felt like a natural evolution.

    This one has totally thrown the old style out. So even if they answer some of the worst criticisms,, it still won't feel anything like the old site. And to some of us, that's exactly why we kept coming back.

    This change hasn't felt like anything I particulaly want to visit again, except for specific stories. I used to check it several times a day, I've maybe looked at a day or two's worth or news according to my old habits over the past entire week. And some of that was just so I could actually get a good feel of the new site so that I wasn't ranting about stuff I'd not even looked at.

    Now most of my ranting is done, there's nothing left worth looking at until the left bar is restored and the right bar is removed.

  • Comment number 52.

    "My only complaint - the Sport site is now inconsistent with News which is a shame."

    Please, Please, Please, Please BBC dont change the sports section.

  • Comment number 53.


    I should not have to opt out of sharing my personal details (IP address, browsing habits etc) with Facebook. this may well be illegal.

    Why hasn't anybody answered my formal complaint about what the relationship between the BBC and Facebook is and what information Facebook can see by the BBC including a third party widget on every page.

    The BBC must not be complicit in any behavioral profiling, especially with a US company with questionable privacy policies.

  • Comment number 54.

    Just checked back to see if you have reverted back to the better layout of the old site but no - It's still sh*t.

    Given that it's clear no one at the BBC has the guts to admit their mistake, Can I suggest to other BBC license payers on this blog that everyone states their preferred alternative news site so that everyone can locate the best one that matches the glory of the original BBC one. I'm currently using Skynews but it's not a lot better than the BBC's new mess. Anyone got a better favorite.

  • Comment number 55.

    As the editor has decided to toally dismiss, failed to justify his actions and ignore my comments and request to restore the old News front page I have logged on to the BBC complaints page at

    to lodge a formal complint and ask for information relting to meetings etc about this matter

    The BBC had 16,400 complaints in June about TV and Radio and has now had 3000+ in a week about this website, I think that says something !!!

  • Comment number 56.


    You are acting like a dictator, you think that if you say it enough times that your new design is an improvement, then eventually the readers will believe it! Only problem is the readers don't have to live in your world, they can go elsewhere.

    Please seriously think what your stance would be if you were doing this for a commercial company, you would need to make a quick decision and revert to the original design for fear of losing more readers and impacting the companies profile and profits.

    The way you have responded to this matter is a gleaming example of the BBC failing to be accountable to it's clients / license fee payers. Very poor indeed, and the longer this continues to more ammunition the new Culture Secretary has to use against the BBC.


  • Comment number 57.


    I'll be flamed for saying this, but what the heck - I'm pleased to hear you're not reverting to the old design.

    Yes there are undoubtedly legitimate issues/problems/concerns with the new design in its current form - but I can see past that and say that the new site is really growing on me. What's more, I think if some people here would calm down and try to be less dogmatic, less revelling in their outrage, they might find it actually grows on them too, especially when solutions to some of the issues they're raising are implemented.

    At the moment, "the problem" will seem worse than it is for several reasons:

    (1) Internet discussion, which tends to favour hyperbole over measured criticism. Things are rarely small problems nowadays, it seems. They must always be "a disaster".
    (2) Aversion to change, which accompanies any major redesign. Some of us recall the vitriol directed at the Times, the Guardian the Daily Mail, and others when they revamped. There were subsequent tweaks, and many people got used to it.
    (3) The anti-BBC mob (or at least certain unremittingly negative posters) who seem to sit and wait to pounce on any new BBC development so that they can dismiss it as a "fiasco" and a "shambles".
    (4) The sheer popularity (and familiarity) of the BBC News site - that in itself magnifies any perceived problem and the amount of flak you will receive.
    (5) Mob mentality and the snowball effect - once a narrative gains momentum, it's easy to get caught up in the feeding frenzy and lose perspective.

    Once again - there ARE real problems with the site. I don't deny that. Some good comments have been made over the last week or so. But these other factors will be making it seem so much worse. Which is why I think you're right in not relying entirely on blog comments.

    So I hope the team that worked on the site will be able to filter through the impolite nonsense and po-faced announcements of departure, not get too downhearted by the spite and bile, and pick out the constructive criticism, in the knowledge that some of us appreciate all the hard work and the improvements.

    I look forward to seeing it improve.

  • Comment number 58.

    Like the others I hate the new design and have registered just to say that despite your determination to ignore your customer. But I won't get mad. I will go to The Telegraph instead. It seems okay and certainly a lot easier to read. I miss the London/local stories but at least sport is back.
    I'd be interested to hear of other good alternatives as the Sky one isn't up to the old standard that BBC had set with the previous design.
    I'll be surprised if you are still in this job next year.

  • Comment number 59.

    "Reverting to the old design is not something we're considering"

    You don't have to revert to it, just offer it as an option. Bit of Javascript here, some CSS tinkering there. Voila! we are all happy.

    I do however, think that your statement above is quite condescending and soemwhat blinkered. It takes a big person to say "Hmm, sorry readers, we got that wrong", a bit like Steve Jobs and his failed joke of "use the other hand" with the Iphone 4.

    The difference is commercial organisations HAVE to listen to their customers. Remember Ratner and his "crap jewellery"?

  • Comment number 60.


    If I were you, I'd talk to my Legal team very quickly, as I think that you may have inadvertantly breached UK and EU law.

    Remember all that fuss the other year about PHORM. The proposed "solution" in that case was to give people an opt out via a cookie (like you're doing with the facebook option on this site.

    In the end, the legal opinion was that this "solution" didn't cut the mustard legally speaking, and the ISPs concerned ended up dropping PHORM rather hurredly (just before outraged customers launched an EU complaint).

    I strongly suggest that you disable the Facebook option while you look into this issue, as the penalties the BBC face (both in terms of £ and in reputation) are severe.

  • Comment number 61.

    What I really take exception to is the utterly arrogant "fingers-in-ears-lalalalala"-approach of the BBC Editors after loud, clear and constructive criticisms from the license fee payers.

    All you seem to do Steve, is simply regurgitate what you've said before.

    It seems that only one thing is going to change the BBC's mind: a drop in visitor stats.

    And with that said, I'm out of here. I may check the front page once every fortnight or so, just to see what's happening, as opposed to 10 browsing sessions or more per day.

    I predict at least a 30% drop in visitor numbers in the next few weeks.

  • Comment number 62.

    Your columns are far too wide for reading comfortably.
    Try comparing your column widths with a, say, the Economist or Paris Match. Those are wide enough.
    [Many newspapers use even narrower columns so they can up their Ad yields per page for lineage ads, so you'll need to survey mags that don't do much lineage business].

  • Comment number 63.

    Follow up to my last post. If you Google "PHORM" you see that the (previously shelved) investigation has been reopened at the request of the Crown Prosicution Service, and that the City of London Police have an active and ongoing investigation.

    Speak to the lawyers, before you inadvertantly drop the BBC in it.

  • Comment number 64.

    Still hate the redesign. More importantly hate the arrogance of the BBC. It's not the first time they've done something their audience doesn't like. The one common theme is that they will never ever admit a mistake and change things back. The BBC believes it is above criticism, it is simply the audience who has got it wrong and just doesn't understand.

    The BBC mantra is we know best, our audience doesn't.

    In your face fonts, white space, too many menus and gimmicks. Bad presentation before content.

  • Comment number 65.

    57 dotconnect

    May I politely ask how it is an improvement to make it so that to access the countrywide news for England I have to access 10 separate sites when it was all accessible before with one click on England from the front page, ( left hand side).

    You do many a diservice with the way you categorize people into "mobs"
    for questioning the arrogance of a public authority that changes things in the way this change has been implemented.

    A public authority that is funded by a compulsory levy enforced in a particularly vicious manner also.

  • Comment number 66.

    We are looking closely at the comments and feedback we are getting on all aspects of the new design, and we'll also be carefully watching usage, traffic and conducting further audience research, as we would after any such change.

    If you really value feedback from users then why is not a prominent FEEDBACK button on every page? The easier you make it to get feedback the more representative and comprehensive it will be.

    Your volume of readers are a valuable source of ideas and feedback. If only the BBC could find a way to use them to evolve the site then maybe it really become a great news site (like it was before).

  • Comment number 67.

    Smaller fonts please, especially for the headlines on the index pages.

  • Comment number 68.

    These sectional headlines on the main index take up EXCESSIVE vertical space. Vertical space is a premium (for everyone, not just netbook users. I doubt anyone has a screen tall enough to display the main index page as far as the lower stories).

    Please value vertical space. Trim the waste. Get more "above the fold"

  • Comment number 69.

    I've been waiting since Friday to see what response we would get from Mr Herrmann. What a massive letdown that was.
    Whilst you recognise that the vast majority hate the new design you decide to ignore them.

    "Reverting to the old design is not something we're considering"

    Well that's made my mind up for me. I will now remove the bbc as my homepage and replace it with something more appealing to the eye. I'll probably pop by now and again to see how it's going on, and I'll continue to visit BBC Sport (until that gets "improved" in your own inimitable style). Well done for decreasing the page traffic even more.


  • Comment number 70.

    65, xTunbridge

    Looks like you need to re-read my post.

    You'll see that I neither (a) categorized people into "mobs" for questioning arrogance, nor (b) suggested that every change was an improvement.

    Congratulations though. You sort of demonstrated my point about comments on 'teh internets'.

    (I wondered who would be first)

  • Comment number 71.

    Please get rid of the "UK News" / "World News" black box!!!!!!

    A huge ugly box that has been pushed into the middle of the main index page. How did that happen?

    This is damaging to your main index. It pushes the sectional headlines (business/tech/entertainment/sci/healt/etc) much further down.

    Not being able to see at a glance the headlines is one of the biggest problems with your new index page IMO.

    As an interim, can the "UK/World" black box be relegated to the final box on the page? i.e. above/below the "world service" box? That would allow users to see the main headlines without visual interuption and then they could scroll-or-END down for the local/world news headlines if they want to check it.

  • Comment number 72.

    On the story pages...

    The headline font is huge. Smaller please?

  • Comment number 73.

    Dear Mr Herrmann,

    It is my opinion - and seemingly the opinion of most readers who have taken the time to detail their opinions in this blog - that the new website just does not work well. The homepage seems haphazard and, when I read an article, I just get the feeling that it is far from an enjoyable experience.

    I have changed my homepage to Google News but will continue to check the BBC News website since I have previously always found the content to be well presented and well written. I hope that your review process will improve things by moving towards (backwards?) to how they used to be. I understand why you must be reluctant to revert it completely back to its former state. However, I just can't be convinced that the new site is better when I see comparisons like this:

    * Old site layout:
    * New site layout:

    Although the new site looks quite "stylish", the old site simply works better for me. The layout is clear, compact and draws your eye to articles of interest. Plus the old site just about fits onto 1 screen for me, as opposed to 3.5 screens for the new site!

    Finally, 2 specific questions:

    1. Why is some of the website in the new format and some in the old format? I can't believe it's good policy to partially complete the job in hand. Jumping from the old-style Bristol page to the new style article page is a very strange user experience.

    2. Helvetica Neue: I have a brand new Windows 7 laptop; the font is not installed. To be fair, it seems that many people do have this font (and regret it!) but I would be interested to know if this font is a "standard" one. If I am indeed unusual then that's fine but if a significant percentage of users do not have it, then why choose it at all? Not that I would like it anyway from reading comments here!

    You of course can't reply to all of these posts individually but I hope these comments are of some help. It does seem that you are trying to lecture us why you have made all these changes.

    Please host a poll on the homepage to better gauge your readership's opinion.

    Until this is done - and results analysed / actions taken - I personally will use other news services.



  • Comment number 74.

    The new site is a navigational nightmare and I'm off to join everyone else who won't be using this website any more. Since our comments aren't working I hope that a fall in user numbers will persuade you to revert to the previous design.

    It's a sad day when I'm more inclined to look at the headlines on my email account homepage than those on the BBC.

  • Comment number 75.

    On the story page...

    The "Most Popular" box is again much to big. Can we have smaller fonts? Can we reduce the whitespace and dividers? It is just an ordered list of links. Can it be as simple as that?

    That cost of oversized boxes is that it reduces the information visible at a glance. Especially what is visible before scrolling occurs. Some designer might say it looks good with lots of whitespace but try using the site...

  • Comment number 76.

    On the story page...

    The "Related stories" and the "Related Internet links" have both been burried in the foot of the page. These were great navigational links before. It is much harder to find and use them now because they are mixed up with all the clutter and the foot of the page.

    Can you use color to help readers locate these recurring boxes?

    Perhaps lightly colored background on small headings for these sections? Color coding could help users pick out these items from all the other junk there.

  • Comment number 77.

    You cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. And quite frankly, what you have now can hardly rise to the standard of a sow's ear. Your readers want the old design back because this design is terrible, bland, inefficient, ineffective, cluttered, pandering to the lowest IQ. So in short, and there really is no other way to say it, the new design SUCKS.

  • Comment number 78.

    70 dotconnect

    Sir you are disingenuous.

    You 3 and 5 put people into mobs.

    That you try to score some kind of imaginary point by saying my response to you proves your point 1 is laughable.

    You seem to favour style over substance and all the points you have made, which incidentally prove the thing was not fit for launch,have been on the technical side.

    I want a BBC site that gives me as good as or better news service than the old one. The current enforced offering in my opinion and that of thousands of others, does not.

  • Comment number 79.

    "Reverting to the old design is not something we're considering, but building and continuing to improve on the changes we've made certainly is."

    ...Says it all really, doesn't it.

  • Comment number 80.

    I havnt lost my sense of humour.

    Just logged onto this site and it came up, google chrome, a bit odd looking, massive white space and not moving.

    I thought no they havnt got at this as well have they.

    Then up popped a box saying the site has become unresponsive wait for it to respond or kill it !

    If only !

  • Comment number 81.

    The current index page has

    There is so much wasted space. All the horizontal lines, padding, headings, padding, lines, padding etc. It is a complete waste of the vertical space.

    The site feels like a splurge of "computer generated" output boxes. It can still be computer generated but please generate a compact output that respects readers and keeps it all short.

    The goal should be to generate output comparable to a hand craft compact index page (in the same way that the old index compactly conveyed the headlines).

  • Comment number 82.

    The changes we have made are based on careful research and thinking about how the site can work at its best now, and how we can make sure it is adaptable enough to continue to evolve, not stand still.

    Can you publish the research documents and planning documents on the web and linked from this blog? The BBC is a public body and the FOI gives us the right to ask for them but even better the the BBC editors choose themselves to put all these documents up.

  • Comment number 83.

    Over the last few years, whenever there has been a change to the BBC News website it has made me twitch a bit at first. I'm not a great one for change, but in every instance I've soon adapted to the new site and come to recognise the improvements. However, I can't see these changes as being anything but a retrograde step.

    The previous design was, in my opinion, near enough perfect. It was clean, quick and easy to navigate. This latest redesign is an utter mess. I appreciate that ultimately design is a matter of taste, but usability and basic functionality are not. Even now, a week after launch, navigating the site is painful, and there are errors in the layout. As I type this, one of the "Watch/Listen" links is "Oiled pelican rescued from Gulf", and then half a word hanging out of the available space. This word is simply "click", and given the preceding text, it doesn't even represent valid use of the English language.

    Clearly, there was insufficient testing on many levels before the site went live. I find it impossible to believe that if, as claimed, there was some sort of beta before the launch, that none of the points raised across these forums were picked up on at that stage. As far as I can see, the beta test was nothing but a paper exercise, this is reflected by the way that the site design is now being tinkered with on an almost daily basis.

    For those as opposed to Facebook as I am, the simple solution is to install some form of advert blocking solution, and simply filter out anything that has Facebook in the URL.

  • Comment number 84.

    When will low graphics return?

    Low grpahics had a simple page with a simple list of stories in importance order.

    I read that one of the features of the new backend was flexibility in rendering the stories. If that is the case why has low graphics not been restored?

  • Comment number 85.

    @chestermat and others interested in alternatives

    (in no particular order) (local and international news, limited accessibility support) (local and international news, no accessibility support) (great editorial, best in international and finance, weak health coverage, good accessibility support) (local and international, good accessibility support) (aggregator) (aggregator, IP-based local news, interactive/commentary) (international & Canada, good accessibility support) (international, focus on Scotland) (best in technology news hands-down) (up-to-date international, very good impartial reportage) (upi textmode. a must for accessibility..the best source if you're elderly or have disabilities)

  • Comment number 86.

    Why don't you ask your readers what they prefer?

    Each day you could trial one variation in the site, e.g. smaller fonts, e.g. modified layout, e.g. fewer horizontal lines, e.g. more images, e.g. smaller icons etc.

    You could offer users a link to switch in/out of the alternative view and to vote on what they think of it. How better to evolve the site than by harnessing your millions of readers?

    You may have a few key people in the BBC saying "we like this ugly black box on the home page" but if 95% of millions of readers disagree maybe it will get changed....

    Your readers are an asset...

  • Comment number 87.

    So Auntie is not for turning. Bye bye then

  • Comment number 88.

    "I hope you will grow to like it"...

    What if we don't? Is there a plan B? Because apparently we don't like it and you refuse to change it! How very childish!

    To all my fellow readers, I suggest:

    1. Sign the petition here:
    and please spread the word

    2. Send a complaint here:

    3. Try a different news website. Post #85 has a few great ones.

  • Comment number 89.

    I'd like to explain again, as clearly as I can, what my thinking is:

    I won't use your website again for reading news, only for posting comments here trying to make you realize what a big disaster the new design is.

  • Comment number 90.

    I very much doubt the BBC has done a major redesign without considering any legal issues. No information appears to be shared with Facebook except for when you click the button yourself.

    Any redesign the BBC does is hailed as a disaster and hated by the vast majority, when in reality the vast vast majority of users won't comment on this blog, because they don't mind the redesign. It's just the very vocal minority who complain on blogs and massively overhype the issue.

    I'm not used to this site yet, and the video slows down my browser massively, but I'll get used to it. I'll keep using the site because I like the quality of the news, rather than just the design.

  • Comment number 91.

    In post 57 dotconnect wrote: "Which is why I think you're right in not relying entirely on blog comments."

    Unless, of course, they are made by Stephen Fry in which case they are loudly trumpeted (see Steve Herrmann's post 3 from last Thursday).

    Still 'n all, it's nice to see Dot's views changing over time. More recently she's been emphasising in each post that there really is LOTS wrong with the site, but the main problem is the rest of us posters on HYS who don't adore the changes (or should I say "improvements", as claimed by Steve). We've reached argumentum ad hominem.

  • Comment number 92.

    For those interested in alternatives while the BBC site manages to produce a look pleasant enough to read (or puts back the exceptional old design): besides others suggested above, you may want to try the global edition of The New York Times:

  • Comment number 93.

    "Reverting to the old design is not something we're considering"

    Complete and utter arrogant denial. Like many others commenting here you have done me a huge favour. I have explored - and liked - other news websites and the BBC is no longer bookmarked, let alone my homepage.

    Shame on you for not listening; such arrogance is worthy of Marie Antoinette.

  • Comment number 94.

    Further to my comments at 62, you might like to give us a bit more of white margin to the left of long copy. That'd also make your stuff easier to read.
    After all, books have margins too.
    I suggest that most readers have a preference for serif faces - they make whole word recognition so much easier.
    Have you noticed how newspapers with articles of a similar length usually adopt serif faces? Books usually print in serif faces too. Could it be that those faces are easier on the eye? NTR is good.

  • Comment number 95.

    xTunbridge (78)

    You are just making it worse my friend!

    You claim in your post that I...

    "...categorize people into "mobs" for questioning the arrogance of a public authority that changes things in the way this change has been implemented."

    For one thing, picking up on the mob mentality of internet discussions (my point 5) is not the same as "putting people into mobs." For another, I certainly don't dismiss people in that way merely for questioning. I think you'll find that's either a complete invention of yours.

    You then go on to say:

    "...That you try to score some kind of imaginary point by saying my response to you proves your point 1 is laughable."

    Actually, I'd say it's precisely this misrepresentation, this (apparent) inability to recognize a nuanced position that lies between two polar opposites, that rather demonstrates my point about the nature of internet discussion.

    It's further compounded by the most remarkable statement of all...

    "You seem to favour style over substance"

    Quite stunning in its falsehood, not least because I have categorically stated that I do no such thing. Being able to read lines of text comfortably, being able to quickly navigate to parts of the site - these are all issues of substance that require DESIGN decisions and TECHNICAL knowledge. (Substance to me, by the way, is content, journalism and so on.) This is a blog about a website redesign, about usability and, yes, to a certain extent, aesthetics. My point about "dark grey text being better than black text" (on a white background) had nothing to do with style and everything to do with substance (or, in this context, usability). My point about line-widths - ditto.

  • Comment number 96.

    So its no change with the replys to our comments. FAQ's have most of the answers and you will get used to it in time. Err no Steve, no chance!

    It is still the same rubbish it was a week ago, a week in which for the first time in the twelve years I have had a computer I have not searched for news on the BBC. It was a tough habit to break, but there are sites out there that provide quality news, be it local, national or international. Some will require me improving my Spanish and German to get the full benifits of the sites but so far so good.

    Of all the critism and comments made the most damming come from those with an IT background, having talked with some myself the comments were the same, none liked it. And for the same reasons those like myself dislike the new layout and loved the old.

    Now the BBC news habit is broken the next big step is to replace the BBC as my home site, this will take a little more time but will happen.

    The reason for my leaving the BBC web site is not because of the website changes alone, but because of the response to the critisms made by people like me. People I suspect who value the many services the BBC provides, and who rely on the BBC because we think we can trust them them for quality and honesty. Only to see a reply that can only be described as a complete lie to describe the level of critism levied.
    And to continue the denial of the truth with each subsequent update. The jhist of which is we are not changing and you will get used to it. Given such a reponse the only conclusion can be that we can not trust anything Steve nor the BBC says.

  • Comment number 97.

    I really like the redesign, thumbs up. It was long overdue.

    I'd just ignore the keyboard bashers, some people just don't like change and love to slate anything new.

  • Comment number 98.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 99.

    90 Matthew

    My shoes hurt like hell but I will keep wearing them because I like the look of the leather ?

    So the change affect you in a retrograde way, but you will get used to it

    And all of us who will kick and scream until this thing is put right are a minority !

    Have you seen how many of the thousands who have comained on this and other blogs have prefaced their post with the phrase "I have never posted on a blog before and had to go through the tortuous BBC registration system to do so but..." and variations of words to the same effect.

    This change is so drastic, so fundamentally flawed technically and as a news service that it has brought out people who have never complained before.

    And as for the quality of the News, well Abseiling donkeys, Lindsey Lohan and Dizzi Rascal, yeah. Also todays front page has hardly changed all day when Yahoo which I have moved to has changed 20 times in the last 4 hours.

    But keep on putting up with a service that slows your browser , keep paying the licence fee. Please Why ?

  • Comment number 100.

    June1989 (91)

    "Still 'n all, it's nice to see Dot's views changing over time. More recently she's been emphasising in each post that there really is LOTS wrong with the site..."

    Ever stop to consider you were just plain wrong in your initial assumption, June?!

    (It's ok, no need to apologise. Really.)

    "...but the main problem is the rest of us posters on HYS who don't adore the changes"

    Is it?

    People who don't adore the changes are not the main problem in my eyes June. They're not even "a" problem. One of the problems I was choosing to highlight (and not even the main problem) was something else. I'll give you a clue - I wasn't being half as generalising about people as you are about my view.


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