BBC Web Site Refresh

Posted by on Apr 1, 2008 in Design, Technology | 5 Comments

The BBC, by far my favorite news site, has done a complete redesign that seems to be right on at just about every level. Steve Herrmann, the editor of the site outlines all the changes here. The main points he stresses include:

  • It’s wider, using 1024 pixels.
  • More open design and space to breathe.
  • New masthead and centred pages.
  • Bigger images.
  • Less intrusive ad units.
  • Better presentation of video and audio.
  • Easier to locate TV and radio programmes across all BBC properties.

As you might expect not all of the BBC’s loyal readers were happy with the redesign and within less than 24 hours they’d posted more than 1,000 1,500+ comments. So cue Julia Whitney, the head of the redesign team to explain in more detail their thought process.

Update: Dan G who left a comment has some detailed criticism on this redesign. Worth a read.

Update #2: Here is an article about their last major redesign in 2003.


  1. Graeme Davidson

    I must admit as well, I am very happy with the Beebs new website as it has not strayed away from the usability of the old one. So far, I am finding it easy to navigate, and being that I am in business development for a digital agency then I know what I am talking about.
    Furthermore, the BBC iPlayer is a wonderful addition to the website and I am extremely surprised that other stations and networks have not followed suit.

    I hope they keep up the good work. Although please try harder to prise some of the football away from the grasp of their rivals.

  2. Dan

    Some odd comments there Graeme. It doesn’t matter how *you* find a site to navigate, it matters how the *users* of that site find it.

    In the case of the BBC they’re reduced the number of story links on the main page, but have increased the area of the page — how does that help?

    Also Channel 4 were the first to offer an “iPlayer”-like service — 4 on Demand, 4oD for short — and ITV provided a long while ago. Catchup is arguably better than iPlayer, as you can watch whole series, rather than only the last episode.

    Back on topic, there’s a lot wrong with the BBC News site, but users can fix much of the problems themselves

  3. admin

    There are always, I mean always issues with a redesign. There is no perfect design. Now some of the coding issues you raised are of course not acceptable. But many of the points I’ve seen made are design issues that some (like myself) may like and others do not. I will also mentioned that most people that comment on a new design are usually people that are not happy. Generally speaking people are more apt to criticize then complement.

    Now with all that said it will be interesting to see how BBC handles all these comments. Design by Internet mob isn’t a very good idea. When you attempt to incorporate every suggestion, which is never possible, you usually end up with a cluster fu*#k.

  4. martyc

    Granted the seething masses can always be counted on to have a good rant at the BBC anytime something new and different happens. But I think what the more reasonable amongst the naysayers are trying to get across is that the move to a wider layout isn’t actually delivering more space.
    The old layout was 770 pixels wide the new one is fixed at 975, but most of the extra space is on the left and right columns, not the main content. At the same time they’ve pretty much doubled the size of the masthead vertically, so the net result is that the actual content area has shrunk overall. Couple that with many large chunks of empty space on many pages and it just looks wrong to me, and seemingly many others.

    Still, I’ve noticed some tweaks already which have reversed some changes (font sizes and line spacing seem better, for starters) so it seems that contrary to what many think, they are listening to and acting on the more reasoned feedback.

  5. NealeH

    New website seems great – only thing is, in the last few days it seems to have lost the “HOME” navigation button from the top banner. I found it very useful to be able to scoot quickly back to thehome page from there.


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