Sneak peak at new BBC homepage

The BBC is working on a new homepage that incorporates Web 2.0 design and features, especially customization, taking its cue from Netvibes and iGoogle.

You can see the beta verison here.

Richard Titus, the Acting Head of User Experience at the BBC, says the key features of the new homepage are:

  • Simple, clean and beautiful, the final design, we hope, is visually striking yet unpretentious. The masthead showcases the BBC’s new online branding.
  • Personalization: you can choose the content that interests you by adding and removing the content boxes via the “Customise Your Homepage” tab. This allows the user to edit the type of information they’d like to appear. Soccer fans (pardon me – football fans), for example, can now add up to eight football stories to the sports box. The user can also create their own page layout by rearranging the boxes in the layout of their choice.
  • Localization: Users can now set their own location, enabling them to access local sites, weather, news, radio and TV schedules without the hassle often associated with user journeys to local content. (Talking about the weather: as a newly emigrated Yank, I failed to grasp the gravity of the national controversy around the weather icons. I feel they are a massive improvement on those of the previous homepage, and in keeping with BBC tradition, we’ll continue to refine them based on user feedback.)
  • Simplicity: the customization is intuitive and includes an interactive demo and tips to guide users through the process. It is also unobtrusive – if the user has no desire to customize their page their experience won’t be compromised. TV and radio schedules show what’s on air now and on tonight and allow users to listen live directly from the homepage. There are also links to the most popular On Demand shows for each radio network.
  • Search: The site is much easier to read and scan at a glance. At the top of the page there’s a search function (now reduced from two search boxes to one), and at the bottom a full directory of all BBC sites and a link to the A-Z, allowing users to quickly find what they’re looking for. You can refine your search by shrinking the field to just news and sport, or audio/video. Users who simply want to be entertained can choose one of the four main tabs to focus on a particular promotion of interest.
  • Nostalgia: the new homepage also manages to incorporate eccentricity alongside innovation, and integrates a BBC 1 analogue clock in the top right corner. This feature was initially punted as a bit of fun, but feedback revealed that users find this icon, a homage to the “golden days” of analogue programming, bizarrely reassuring.

Note that this isn’t the first time the BBC has tried personalization: years ago, it launched myBBC, which never really caught on…