Saturday, May 24, 2003

BBC news redesign

Read this. If you have anything to do with your organisation's website, read it. It's an "Online Journalism Review" story telling how BBC news, a site with 2 million unique visitors and 10 million page views a day planned out its redesign, e.g. Why didn’t the BBC use all the white space on the side of the screen? Why was the site ‘all squashed up’? Some found BBC News Online ‘cluttered and confusing’. It required too much scrolling and took too long to download. And it was less appealing to medium and light news users. The accepted wisdom was that multi- media consumption was the engine that drove much site traffic to News Online. BBC News Online, after all, had an almost unrivalled access to timely, good quality audio and video. But the stats showed that much of the online multi-media was being ignored. When a user approaches an object such as light switch or a control panel on a car, they form a mental model and anticipate what that object will do. It’s fair to say that, until now, our site hasn’t offered enough of these clues. It hasn’t given an instant system model to the user. In part, it has been a mess, to be honest The use of generic code allows content to be supported and upgraded across different sites and in different languages with far less effort Pages will be constructed from modules, allowing greater freedom than a traditional template. The weight of the home page has been cut from around 160 K to 100 K The individual journalist will have more responsibility for producing the whole package, including bespoke multi-media and interaction opportunities for the user Great stuff. A lot of the same thinking that we have put into DotP. Great to see one of the most popular sites in the world though thinking about what it needs to do to improve, rather than resting on its laurels (and no, I'm not going to get into the debate about licence payer money and what should be done with it).

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