BBC unveils new beta homepage

As of today a beta version of the BBC’s homepage is online at, organised around a “visual-first” design and carousel. While not specifically created for touchscreen devices, the design undoubtedly owes much to the new ways in which users access content online

As of today a beta version of the BBC’s homepage is online at, organised around a “visual-first” design and carousel. While not specifically created for touchscreen devices, the design undoubtedly owes much to the new ways in which users access content online…

Writing on the BBC Internet Blog earlier today, James Thornett, head of BBC homepage product, said that in order to “make the [home]page more relevant to a broader audience” the redesign had adopted a “showing less of more” approach.

The new features include a carousel that makes use of colour coding to denote categories, alongside a series of icons that depict content type. There are also various ‘filters’ and ‘drawers’ that allow users to tailor individual pages based on their interests and select more or less aspects of certain content.

The new visual language incorporated into the design is the result of Neville Brody and Research Studios’ extensive work for the broadcaster that was unveiled last year. (The project formed our Case Study feature in CR April 2010, which you can read here; Research Studios’ posted about it, here.)

Thornett suggests that the carousel device “feels like an intuitive way to navigate content which test groups have said feels ‘just like flicking through a magazine’. There’s a general sense too that the dynamic page does a better job of showing the breadth BBC web content than a static page could.”

With its emphasis on visually led content and left-right navigation, the beta homepage certainly invites touchscreen scrolling. However, in the comments to his post, Thornett later confirmed that “this web version of the new BBC homepage is not optimised for touch interaction”, but acknowledged that “the visual look and feel of the page is quite similar to many applications that use touchscreen.”

“User testing has confirmed that ‘swiping’ through content is becoming increasingly intuitive,” he continued, “whatever the screen you’re on … In time we’ll look to optimise the homepage across mobile and tablet devices and we expect that this design approach will lend itself well to introducing touchscreen interaction where possible.”

BBC Online launched in 1997 and the last major redesign took place in 2008. The beta hompage at will be replaced with a full version later this year. The BBC’s Phil Fearnley has also blogged about the redesign from a strategy perspective, here.


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  • Mark H

    It’s a little bit too much – does my head in a bit!

  • Adam

    News, traditionally communicated via headlines, not thumbnails.

  • Jez

    Not at all keen on the way news headlines have been usurped.

  • John

    I don’t know quite where to begin. It seems to lack a hierarchy.

  • Fran

    I hate it, pure and simple. ‘Swiping’ is great on mobile devices. This sort of page dealing with so much information in need of navigation and synthesis just doesn’t need it. No hierarchy, no visual stimulation – just too much of not enough. Hugely disappointing considering the BBC’s record of good online design.

  • superfried

    There are aspects I like such as the removal of the round corners and grads which were looking a bit dated. However, overall I agree there are aspects that just don’t work. They have minimised the information containers/division devices I assume to make it cleaner. However, I find that it now feels more busy as everything merges together with the reduced boundaries. This may also be due to the lack of hierarchy, which I agree is also an issue. I am all for development, but it is important that changes are not made just for the sake of it. Also, I find the faded periphery areas very distracting, I would knock these back further. If they wanted to have multiple information panels/zones I am rather fond of the simple devices they have implemented on bbc iPlayer.

  • Michael

    There goes my faith in the golden ratio.

    I thought that could make anything work.

    No hierarchy.

    Weather seems too big.

    As does the date and location.

    It’s sad because I really wanted to see this work

  • Marcel Garbi

    Not serious.
    I am tired of this movement towards “children’s design”.

  • Nathan

    I like it.
    BBC is more than just a news channel so this redesign is great for exploring what the BBC has to offer.

    @Adam: If you want traditional news, read a newspaper.

  • James Wallace

    There are many aspects I like such as the integration of the more interactive areas of the BBC.
    However, couldn’t there be more thought into the main carrousel area..?

  • Dan F

    Doesn’t feel like a BBC site.
    More like an ITV or C4 site.
    Navigation is not intuitive.

  • Nib

    Hate hate HATE it!! Ugly, confusing and overcrowded. Didn’t really like the previous version either.

  • Jamie Graham

    I am not keen on the new design at all. When I first looked at it yesterday my immediate thought was to navigate away from the page as it hurt my eyes looking at it.

    In my view there is just far too much going on and I found it hard to differentiate between the content.

    I filled in their survey to give them my thoughts, hopefully in a constructive way. I really think they should go back to the drawing board with this but what do I know? I’m just a copywriter!

  • Jay

    Windows 8

  • Tom

    It’s too big and clunky.
    I also don’t like mixing iplayer programmes with news, you don’t know where to start.
    I hate having to write 2 negative comments in one morning on here. :-/

  • Rob

    Did they intentionally want users to get confused between news and entertainment?

  • Helen

    Nasty! I guess I could get used to it but why bother?

  • David

    I can see what they’re trying to do, but like others I’m not convinced the mix of news and tv/iplayer is a good thing, quite confusing.

    The news headlines with image do help simplify things so that’s a positive. Allows the page to be alot more visual and not too text heavy like a lot of news websites.

  • Rich

    It would be great on touch screen, but like many others on here, i’m not keen on the mixture of subjects. once you learn the colour coding it will probably be easy.

    ‘Why Bother?’, well for me, it’s the BBC website and i visit it most days so i’m going to have to!

  • Alex

    It reminds me of the Channel 4 website with all the sliding thumbnails. Sorry BBC, but I prefer the old design. Like Rich said, unfortunatley I am going to have to get used to it!

  • Ed

    Really horrible (for all of the above reasons). It reminds me very much of the disasterous Radio Times beta site where the feedback was removed after the huge negative response to the re-design.

  • Paul

    vile; confused mass of images, really hard to find the what you are looking for, mike look nice on a tablet but it’s ugly and hard to use on a PC

  • CT

    Just awful! What a terrible design, I have nothing good to say about it and I really hope I will not have to use this every day. Looks like a cheap WordPress template that has been very poorly executed!

  • Rob H

    absolutely hate it. I have used BBC as my homepage for years, but no more. Can anyone suggest a decent alternative?!

  • Nick W

    I’m glad there are plenty out there that seem to hate this as much as I do. I’ve sent the bbc a long message full of constructive criticism, and one where I was less polite now they have sent the live site without making any changes from their public beta.

    Its generally useless and doesn’t performs the core functions of the bbc website, which has always been and should always be an information portal… not a fancy way of seeing whats on your tv. (We have tvs to see whats on tv) And iplayer should be a link….. not half of the homepage.

    Very very upset. There is no customisation…. not easily consumed content… no good.

  • Andy

    How do you tailor what you want to see on the screen? I’m not interested in things like , gardening, lifestyle… In the old (and frankly miles better) homepage I could turn things on and off. Here there’s way too much crap I’m not even interested in. :(

  • Al

    An own goal of quite breathtaking proportions. I think we should all march on Broadcasting House or the Wendy house where this was put together and demand that those responsible be handed over to Jeremy Clarkson for trial and sentence, or sentence and trial,whichever is faster.

  • A

    “visually led content” that discriminates against the blind ref:
    “1010.At 17:35 2nd Dec 2011, Jim wrote:

    I’m blind.
    My software package which enables me to access the existing site (Dolphin Guide) is excellent – but cannot use the beta site.”