As of today a beta version of the BBC’s homepage is online at beta.bbc.co.uk, 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 beta.bbc.co.uk 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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