Their flagship page, bbc.co.uk, today showed us a bold new look that it hopes to fully launch by the end of the year. In a press release, the BBC’s Phil Fearnley, a general manager at BBC Future Media, said:
BEYOND REORGANISATION OF CONTENT AND CLEARER SIGNPOSTING, THE HALLMARK OF THE REDESIGN IS A HIGHLY-VISUAL “CAROUSEL” WHICH WILL ENABLE USERS TO BROWSE THE BBC’S BREADTH OF CONTENT MORE EASILY. THE REDESIGNED PAGE CONTINUES TO MAKE IT EASY FOR VISITORS TO LOCATE QUICKLY THE CONTENT THEY’RE LOOKING FOR, WHILST PROVIDING A MORE COMPELLING OPPORTUNITY TO DISCOVER SOMETHING NEW.
It is clear that the BBC wanted to go for a bold, clean look with this and, as mentioned by Fearnley, they wanted to make everything clearer and easier to find.
See the beta home page at http://beta.bbc.co.uk/.
Like any large corporation, the BBC no doubt suffers from we-want-to-be-on-the-home-page-too syndrome, in that every department wants a piece of the prime real estate on the BBC Homepage. What they’ve done with this design is fit a lot more information on the page in an interactive, visually-pleasing way. Different content has a hierarchical order through design, rather than position.
The home page is heavily influenced by the BBC’s GEL guidelines. These were introduced last year as a way of formalising the global language that the BBC uses online, as opposed to the mish-mash of sites they have collected and subsequently mothballed over the years.
News and iPlayer content are obviously the most important parts of BBC Online, and this is evident with this design. Gone is the customisability with regard to the old “Web 2.0” drag-and-drop interface; they know what you want and they present it to you immediately.
Personalisation hasn’t been completely sacrificed, though. The BBC is a public service, and local content plays heavily here. One of the first things a visitor will see is their city at the top of the page. You are immediately presented with the weather and news for your area, and the “Most Popular…” module from the BBC News site has shown up on this new design, too.
Whilst the design might immediately be seen as a little crowded, showing a little too much information, I believe that when you look closely and use the site as you normally would, what the BBC have done here is made a page that acts a lot more like the portal it is meant to be. Content is presented in such a way as to highlight important news events, compelling programming and local issues, without sacrificing the personality and bold “British-ness” that the BBC is so well known for. The new design marks their authority and expertise in a way that is not over the top or too loud.
They have thought closely about how they present all of this news and entertainment and, rather than being crowded, I think the BBC have chosen a brilliant way to give me what I want without the faff of having to drill down. What they’ve done is hardly new, of course; carousels on web pages have been around for years. But they have done it incredibly beautifully, with obvious thought to information architecture and usability.
Being a public service, i.e. something we all pay for, the BBC is obliged to serve us. I think this new approach to design and presentation of information and news is brilliantly refreshing. This is where my licence fee goes, and I’ve never been more proud.