What is GEL?

GEL - this site is all about it. But what actually is it? And what’s all the fuss about? This article will get you started.


David Bailey

David Bailey

UX Principal

‘What is GEL?’ film made with Tui Media

The Global Experience Language (more commonly known as GEL), is the BBC's shared design framework. A system of reusable interaction patterns used to assemble the BBC's entire online output.

Providing a consistent User Experience (UX) across multiple BBC services is vitally important. For our audiences, GEL provides ease of use, familiarity and the confidence to explore more of our online content. For our design teams, GEL increases our efficiency and productivity. And as a shared system, it supports collaboration.

Prior to GEL, our web services were all designed differently. This was confusing for users. Its introduction in 2010 helped us rationalise the design of our online estate. We did this by consolidating our most common interaction patterns (eg. menus and promos), and standardising our foundations (eg. typography and iconography). But like any language, GEL is constantly evolving. We work tirelessly to improve its value and appeal, and we publish our work here on the GEL website.

An internet-fit BBC must support an increasing amount of content with a greater range of expression. Yet it must hang together as a coherent suite of trusted, easy-to-navigate services. GEL helps us achieve this, both creatively and effectively.

Our GEL design principles

Respect everyone: Create a personalised experience for every individual - whatever their needs, schedule and interests.

Love needs: Design to the needs of your audience. Every innovation has to benefit or delight them.

Everywhere, always: Consider every device and where, when and why it might be used - from the armchair to the Arctic.

Drive discovery: The journey's as important as the destination. And if your user veers off in a new, exciting direction along the way, all the better.

Further together: Upcycle existing designs. It'll give you more time to innovate. And the greater consistency will encourage greater exploration of the BBC, online.