BBC News responsive redesign
Since the last newsletter, BBC News closed down its old desktop website design and switched all users to the responsive design that was already being displayed to mobile visitors.
As is customary for a BBC News redesign, and indeed any major website redesign, the change divided opinion. Many users are understandably unsettled by the change. However, the reduced costs of responsive design amid the requirement to support an ever-growing variety of devices makes it the only viable decision.
New media veteran Martin Belam has seen many a ‘big bang’ relaunch from the inside. He has a checklist of common remarks that users make in the midst of a redesign:
Having gone through several big redesigns at the BBC, Guardian and the Mirror over the years I have a mental checklist of the feedback I’m expecting to get each time: “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, “It looks like something Fisher-Price built”, “Did you let the work experience kid design this”.
I can confirm that the digital communications team has received these very comments while we gathered feedback on the new design. This is exactly why we ask not for feedback on visual design, as we are more concerned about usability and functionality issues.
Very vocal criticism online often reflects a real hardcore minority view though.
A site will judge whether a redesign has been a success on metrics like speed, availability, cost of maintaining code, ease of making changes and of course audience growth. Those things won’t always be apparent to the general user.
In 2008 Martin Belam analysed feedback on a BBC News website redesign and found the same comments cropping up.