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February 26th, 2015

When Change Isn’t As Good As a Rest – the BBC mobile site

Written by Paul Maidment

One of the first things that I do each morning – and what an insight this is to my daily routine – is to grab the iPhone and check the news headlines. A couple of weeks back, without a word of warning (why wasn’t I told?), the BBC completely re-engineered its mobile homepage saying that the old one was ‘beginning to look a bit dated’. The solution to bring it up to date (it seemed) was more visuals and more video. Now, I should be cheering this news as Kite Media’s story to prospects is that these very things are good – use them more and ‘they will come’. But the BBC have, I think, got it wrong.

The old BBC mobile site was pretty simple but effective – clean, clear, news-driven and it set the agenda for many. The new site is a classic example of change for change’s sake. Images have taken over but are un-necessary; in fact it reminds me a little of when The Independent newspaper under Andrew Marr’s editorship led its front page with a large single image AND NOTHING ELSE! The news is now all over the place and one has to scroll for an eternity to see the full homepage content. Links to iPlayer content – which we surely all agree is brilliant – now takes up a good deal of space but, reasonably, how many people watch the iPlayer on their handset?

There is clearly something here around folk just not liking change – maybe we’ll all be cheering the site down the line. This is about technology driving change and delivering an underwhelming experience for once happy users. People go to the BBC homepage for news. Video and visuals are a powerful representation of this, but not as an entry point.

And whatever happened to good old Beta testing??

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