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Posted by James Oliver on 24 March 2015

Our Director of User Experience James Oliver takes a look at the newly launched BBC News responsive website design

Normally the BBC website reports the news – this week it’s made headlines itself by switching off it’s tired desktop-only site and all visitors are now being directed to a refreshed responsive design.

Screengrab of BBC News responsive site on mobile

I’m always excited to see the latest in tech or new releases to popular consumer websites, but as a huge BBC online advocate, this one is right up my street!

Before joining Status I was a freelancer for the BBC, and through that experience I managed to get a sneak peek at the BBC News responsive design as it was being built. Some of the changes I saw in development included the ‘My News’ section where users can now customise the types of news they’re interested in, choosing a regional news preference if they wish. Also from a visual design perspective, the lighter shade of red and cleaner typography, to bring it more inline with the TV graphics palette was nice to see.

The responsive news website has been in beta for a while now so I was excited this week to get the opportunity to see the final version in its full glory.

Screengrab of BBC News responsive site on mobile

So what’s my verdict? Well as with the iPlayer desktop responsive launch last year, I’m pleased to see that the responsive grid is solid. It’s clearly been thoroughly tested for handling and stacking content, plus the navigation hierarchy is really strong too. I especially like that when dragging the window down to mobile size it brings the tabs ‘read’ and ‘watched’ up to the top. It’s a nice quick way to jump into most read which feels like a conscious decision based on quick and easy reading habits using a mobile device. Similarly to BBC Weather you can now toggle and save your location - meaning more targeted news in your area, offering a far better user experience.

As their flagship digital product, and with the wealth of categorised content on the BBC, as expected all the pages do a good job of cross-linking to relevant content, and I’m pleased to see there is a carefully considered balance of imagery versus copy.

Video has featured heavily with BBC Sports Apps for some time now and this is evident with the BBC News Apps also - many stories exist in short video format and outlined key points, with a subsequent tab to browse other video clips if you wish, and there is also a 3rd tab to go straight to the live news coverage if that’s being broadcast at the same time, similar to when live sports events are happening.

Overall I think it’s definitely a sign of a more connected BBC, with further personalisation on the horizon in the form of the My BBC app  which is due for launch in Autumn 2015. There’s already a fair amount of dabblings of this around the BBC – in iPlayer Radio, Playlister, Weather, Food, ‘BBC Introducing’ for bands – all of which store users preferences and saved content if they sign in, and more of this can only be a good thing to provide a better visitor experience.

Let me know your thoughts – are you a regular BBC News visitor, are you happy with the changes?


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