It’s difficult not to feel excited about the revamped BBC beta home-page layout, since its design is indicative of the broadcaster’s plans to make the tablet the default design for all future website revamps. It’s a great idea and makes sense given its strategy to distribute content seamlessly and consistently across the four main screens – PC, tablet, smartphone and connected TV.
Initially, the tablet-style design is visually fresh and clear-cut, but the site is let down by the fact some of the navigation techniques befitting a tablet are not as suitable on a PC. The news carousel located above the fold curates content from the BBC’s online portfolio, and is navigated in a similar way to a touch-screen interface – by “swiping” content. Although natural on a tablet, this process doesn’t quite transfer as well on the PC. When you click on the arrow tab to the side of the carousel, the content slides across too fast for comfort, with the result that it becomes taxing on the eyes. It could benefit from tweaking this so that when you hover the mouse over the arrow tab when you are ready to browse, the carousel would move slowly across the page, making it easier to adjust to.
Part of the BBC’s intentions with the revamp is to make the home page more focused on location-based content. This means that once a visitor registers their location on their PC, their home page will be tailored to news and content that is relevant to that area. Although this may seem limiting at first, it is an interesting idea and may act as a springboard for more personalised news services, where a user’s viewing history plays a more prominent role in their site experience.
Part of the intention behind the revamp was to give more prominence to the full online portfolio via the home page, which I think it has delivered on.
At the moment the home page is one of the only BBC websites (along with BBC Radio 1) to model the new tablet design ethos, and as such, the experience feels a bit jarring when you click through to the rest of the sites, which it will need to address to provide a consistent brand experience. It should also be much easier to return to the home page after clicking through to other sites than it currently is. But these are all things likely to be ironed out during the beta phase. The BBC should be leading the way and experimenting with new ideas in the digital space, which this beta redesign reflects.
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