BBC News responsive redesign

Duncan Stephen
Wednesday 27 May 2015

BBC News switches PC users to responsive site

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.

All change again for the BBC News website

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.

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One reply to "BBC News responsive redesign"

  • Scott
    Friday 19 June 2015, 12.00pm

    Two points: 1) It is felt by some, myself included, that the new look BBC news website favours world viewers with its simple image driven look. So whilst there might be growth in traffic, it is by non licence fee paying users. I like the BBC World Service and used it for decades whilst abroad, however UK licence fee payers deserve a service for them with the needs of non-licence fee paying users being secondary. 2) regarding the point that criticism is by a vocal minority, look at how difficult it is/was for users to raise their criticism - you had to delve in the depths of the websites basement to find the blogs to raise criticism, and then those blogs would be closed and a new one raised. Unless you were determined you would not get your criticism to the bbc! In conclusion, if for UK BBC news website users there had been a "select the old or new site" button, then it would have been interesting to see who, like me tried the new site then reverted back to the old site, until being forced back to the new site.


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