The BBC announced this week that all mobile users who visit its news site would automatically be routed to the mobile optimised version.

The site has been live since March though, until now, many users had found themselves the trying to navigate the desktop version.

Creation of the mobile site was driven by consumer demand, as in an average week 13.3m users worldwide use their mobile or tablet to visit the BBC News site and apps – around one-third of total visitors to BBC News Online.

Like any good developer team should, the BBC’s techies have updated the site in recent months in response to user feedback so it now includes video clips and new personalisation options for local news and weather.

We’ve been keen followers of the Beeb’s mobile strategy, including the launch of a new iPlayer Radio app. So to coincide with the latest announcement, we thought we’d see what the BBC News site looks like…

The homepage 

The homepage largely mirrors the desktop site. It displays the same stories and is very easy to navigate as you simply have to scroll down to view more story options.

At the top of the page there is a separate tab that pulls through the ‘Most Read’ stories, which is useful for mobile users that just want to see the most popular or interesting content.

You can also access the rest of the BBC’s news content by clicking the ‘Sections’ icon at the top of the page.

                 

One quite noticeable problem is that the thumbnail photos on the homepage are quite blurry, possibly because they are not correctly optimised for mobile.

Usability could also be improved by using clickable icons rather than text links, although the use of responsive design may mean this isn’t possible.

Story pages

The story pages use a very simple design and don’t appear to suffer from any rendering issues.

The video content looks great, but it does take a while to load using 3G. Also, you have to click the play button twice – once to load the content and once to start the video – which is a bit of a pain as it isn’t made obvious.

                      

At the bottom of the page you can access links to other stories and large CTAs promote sharing through Facebook or Twitter.

Local news and weather

A small GPS icon under the news stories allows you to personalise the local news and weather information to your current location in just two clicks.

It’s a really useful tool and shows that the BBC has been taking user data into account when developing the site.

There is a slight issue though – if you click on the weather tab for a more detailed forecast it links you to a desktop site.

                      

In conclusion…

The BBC News site renders extremely well on mobile and is very easy to use, though there are a few small tweaks that could be made such as the quality of the images and use of text links.

However these are minor points, and the fact that the BBC now automatically routes smartphones to the mobile site should encourage further growth in its mobile traffic.

The local news and weather options are a really useful addition and hopefully we’ll see more updates as the BBC continues to monitor user feedback.