BBC News website developments
If you are a regular visitor to the BBC News website there are some developments heading your way which you might be interested in.
It's obviously an incredibly busy time in the Newsroom and our journalists are still working flat out to cover the disaster in Japan, as well as the events in Libya and the Middle East. We've seen record traffic (15.9m unique users last Friday, for example) as people have come to the site for updates, followed our Live Page coverage and watched unprecedented amounts of video.
But even while the news teams are busy with all this, our product development colleagues are continuing to work on a number of things to improve the site over the coming weeks and months. Some are coming soon, so I wanted to tell you a bit about them here.
Most of these things are being developed largely behind the scenes for now, but they should make a noticeable difference to you, so what follows is an early preview of the headlines. As the various developments progress, I'll be able to tell you more about them, or ask those working on each project to explain in more detail:
Your comments: One development which we have already tried out in a few places around the site is the addition of comments to stories, part of a wider move towards making the site feel more, well, "social". We've had our Have Your Say pages for many years, but we want to give you more opportunities to interact and reflect your thoughts and experience around the stories themselves, because this can add valuable insight and information to our own journalism. Alex Gubbay, our social media editor, will give more details on this soon. We will also be making it easier for you to share stories with others, by improving the share tools on our pages, and by getting more of our stories out onto services like Facebook and Twitter - where people are increasingly expecting to find them. The @bbcbreaking service on Twitter for example has now got more than 1m followers.
Live reporting: We're continuing to develop our Live Page format - which provides a combination of live streaming video and instant text updates based on the widest possible range of sources. It's a format which has proved effective, and popular, during major developing stories such as those of recent weeks. Expect further development and improvement of these pages, as we make them an even better vehicle for reporting all the biggest stories.
BBC correspondents: Our authoritative correspondents' blogs from the likes of Nick Robinson or Robert Peston are one of the most successful ways in which we are able to provide you with the BBC's analysis, expertise and context. We are working on a new format for these which will incorporate each correspondent's blog posts plus their other content and contributions, from news articles to TV packages to tweets. That way, if you want to know what a particular correspondent is saying or reporting on, you will be able to find it in one place - and on more platforms, not just the website.
Video: There is no doubt that video is an increasingly important part of the way users of the News website get their news. We launched a new version of the video player a couple of weeks ago, which is lighter and faster and has been redesigned to more clearly offer other related video. In coming months we will continue to analyse how video is consumed across the site and other digital platforms, and what else we can do to make it work even better. For example, we are planning to introduce the HTML5 video format soon for video clips on platforms that do not support Flash.
Internet TV: Before long it'll become easier to see web content on a TV screen, as internet-enabled TV sets become more common, and we will want to introduce services combining the ability of online news to provide headlines and reports on demand with the viewing experience of watching TV. My colleague in BBC Future Media, Phil Fearnley is speaking at the IPTV World Forum next week about our approach, so more on that soon.
Mobile: More than 3 million people a week view our mobile service and our iPhone and iPad apps, which we launched last year. At present we are working to bring our app to a wider range of smartphones, but we are also thinking hard about what comes next and what people want and expect from news on their mobile device, smartphone or tablet.
Organising our content better: This is a big project, but not as immediately visible as some of the others I have mentioned. Under the heading of "metadata" we are working on a system to label and categorise every piece of content we make so that each story, video and audio clip is tagged and easy to find and sort. That should allow us to provide you with much more specific, tailored sets of news and information about particular subjects. It will make it easier to automate as much of this as we want to, instead of largely sorting things manually as we do now. For example, we produced hundreds of pages, automatically using tagging, during the World Cup - something which would have been close to impossible to do manually.
Linking: We haven't forgotten our ongoing aim of improving our links to other websites. We've seen the number of instances of people using external links from the BBC News website increase, recently reaching 7 million a month, but there is more to do, and we are doing some analysis on how this is going.
Measurement and metrics: Last but not least, the way we keep track of how our online content is being read, watched or listened to is a key part of getting all these things right. So one immediate priority is bringing in a new system for this and consolidating the knowledge we have about how the site is used.
That's a quick overview of the various projects going on to improve the BBC News website in coming months. They are all designed to make sure you can keep up with our news output on any device you choose, and to ensure we can continue to innovate and develop it as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.
As I said, these are just the headlines, and there is still much to do. But as these various projects make progress, we hope to be able to tell you more about them here.
Steve Herrmann is editor of the BBC News website.