Looser style guide
Look at the article titles. Here’s a comparison of some from 2013 with 2014. Whilst the BBC hasn’t stooped to BuzzFeed clickbait levels (who am I to talk?), it’s clearly trying to be a bit more of a tease.
There’s also much less expositionary text or blurb on the new site, again for the same reason.
- Pelicans, cormorants and gannets videos, news and facts
- Omani owl could be new species
- Osprey nests
- Wild Autumn: Highlighting the wildlife attractions in Scotland
- The top 5 animals that inspired kung fu
- The tiny Viking migrant
- Budgie tornado spectacle
- The twisted world of sexual organs
- 10 of the weirdest monsoon species
Imagery, imagery, imagery
A pretty obvious one to start. Imagery is everything, particularly when it comes to this section of the BBC’s coverage, compared to, say, politics.
It’s important for dwell time and encouraging scrolling, to increase click through to content and sharing, too.
Compare BBC Earth now with the section previously (Nature, as it was known):
There’s bigger text in HTML5 immersive stories, as well as the afore-metioned emphasis on imagery.
Click through to check out this incredible example, in line with some of the iWonder experiences that the BBC has been promoting – scrolling experiences, often with interactive elements.
Video, video, video
Even more important than imagery when it comes to success on Facebook.
The BBC has made its videos big and right at the top of featured articles.
Budgie tornado video fills the window
Responsive to screen size
The site nicely fits reformats for tablet, smartphone and laptop/desktop.
Sharing: the bigger picture
What stands out to me is not just the absolute pride of place that sharing buttons are given with articles (see below, both top and bottom of articles and reminiscent of HuffPo’s approach) but also the way social content is linked to from the homepage.
Efectively this is encouraging the user to leave owned media and travel to earned media. In the past, this may have been anathema, done to this degree, with links to Instagram photos and Tweets, but that debate has long finished. Social media is key to winning more of the battle against BuzzFeed and the like, but also against social networks themselves.
Sharing buttons take pride of place
Prominent links to social content
— BBC Earth (@BBCEarth) October 14, 2014
In a simlar vein, other BBC content is promoted everywhere – at the sides of articles (with lovely pictures), aand at the bottom of each story.