Radio Times, the long running and ever popular TV listings magazine, today launches a new website, created by BBC Magazines’ in-house digital team in partnership with TV personalisation specialists MetaBroadcast, and design consultancy, Method.
Designed to make finding out what’s on the telly box as easy as it’s ever been, the site takes its design cues from the Radio Times magazine, using the same font (Tobias Frere-Jones’ Interstate) and also white pages overlaid with rich imagery. There’s a what’s on grid which allows visitors to the site see at a glance what’s on when, but even more handy is the new Watchlist function that lets users nominate favourite shows so that Watchlist can keep them updated as to when they’re on or repeated – and also where to find them on demand.
Other new features include expanded coverage of cinema, with clips, trailers and local cinema search; a buzz chart that responds to activity on the RadioTimes.com site and also sites such as Twitter to show what TV, radio shows and films people are talking about; episode guides and reviews; and star ratings for approximately 27,000 films.
“The design need was to bring the usefulness of the magazine to the digital age,” says Áthila Armstrong, creative director at Method. “Radio Times had been used for decades as the prime entertainment planner and we used this as the primary objective for the new design.”
In terms of functionality, regular users of the site will start to find that the site is full of information they’re interested, as the site learns what individual users are interested in. “The site also becomes gradually more personal, the more you use it,” explains Matt Walton, BBC Magazines’ in-house digital team who led the project. “First time users will get recommendations largely led by the editorial team. As you spend time with us we use your interactions – what you follow, ignore and click on – to help us make you recommendations to suit you. We’ll drop the editorial selections we know you won’t like, in favour of automated suggestions that we think you will. The idea is we don’t hit you with personal content straight away, but that the site evolves over time and only starts to recommend you things that we know are right.”
“The biggest challenge was how to tempt people away from the listings grid and get them to spend longer with us. The traditional use of the Radio Times has been for people to nip in and check what’s on TV tonight. The aim of the new site is to encourage you to snack on our fabulous news and features, discover what to watch, find out more while you’re watching it and then come back and share your opinions once you’ve seen it. Or if you missed it, find out where you can catch up. Our aim is to be a really useful guide and companion to the best TV, film and radio.”
The site is currently viewable online at RadioTimes.com although the site still says it’s the beta version. The plan is that the site will continue to develop over the coming months, and will introduce more social network features and start rolling out to platforms such as mobile and tablets. And, in the unlikely event of the site crashing while you’re on it, you’ll find you have the above “something went wrong” page to enjoy which features a “test card” complete with a grinning Terry Wogan.