Archive for March, 2012|Monthly archive page

BBC and its Use of Social Media

In News Website Analysis on March 26, 2012 at 7:49 pm

BBC has a steady stream of tweets coming out. About 5 tweets per hour. I would say this is a good amount of tweets an hour. Websites like Huffington Post have a twitter feed of up to 30 tweets an hour. That amount of tweets really tends to dominate your twitter feed, like it does for my twitter feed as shown on the side:

Of the ten tweets on my feed, eight are Huffington Post’s. This great amount makes me generally skip over everything they tweet. By tweeting a bit more scarcely like BBC does I get more of a feeling that if they do tweet it is actually something I would care about.

BBC has several twitter pages you can choose to follow @BBCNews is for a UK audience, @BBCWorld tweets about worldwide issues, @BBCBreaking tweets about major breaking news events. @BBCBreaking has a significantly lower amount of tweets per hour, so by choosing between these pages you have somewhat of a control of the amount of tweets you see.

@BBCBreaking has the greatest amount of followers: nearly 3 million, versus BBCWorld that has roughly 1.7 million followers and @BBCNews, which has about 600k. One of the thins BBC can do to increase these numbers is becoming more conversational on twitter. Many news organizations use twitter primarily to post headlines, but much more effective, according to Steve Buttry. “You can and should converse with the community and colleagues on Twitter as many different ways as you converse with the community and colleagues in person and by email,” he says. BBC rarely asks a questions, retweets or replies to something from someone in the community, or comments on their own stories, rather they just post headlines.

Better than their Twitter Page is their very well organized Facebook page. It has a good homepage that shows you exactly where to navigate to to like what your interest is in. Furthermore, unlike twitter this page is much more interactive.

Interestingly enough, the pages don’t have as many likes as you would think. The amount of likes barely reaches over 3,000 for World, a rather low number. Asia even has as few as 724 likes. Significantly lower than the New York Times’ 2.1 million likes, even though their interface is significantly less advanced.

After you have liked the page, short, snappy headline updates will then appear on your newsfeed.

Unlike many other news websites who use a “Social Reader” that shares what stories you’ve read, your friends cannot see the stories you read on Facebook, only the ones you choose to ‘Like’, comment on, or share in Facebook. The Social Reader can be considered an intrusion, it shows all your friends you’re reading about Justin Bieber or the Kardashians, without you even realizing it. However, in terms of attracting readers it seems to be effective. BBC could consider utilizing a Social Reader as well.

On Facebook BBC asks its audience to interact, they ask for opinions and discussions, which leads to many comments and likes on their posts.


Interactive Elements on the BBC Website

In News Website Analysis on March 26, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Two weeks ago I talked about BBC’s particularly good multimedia coverage of the U.S. presidential elections. But the website offers many more multimedia and interactivity on the website than on just that page. BBC has a broad range of timelines, not just of recent events but timelines of ancient history and the World Wars as well.

Almost every story on the website includes at least one picture. In fact, the mobile app’s interface consists of photos to draw you into the story. It almost seems that the headline is secondary to the photo. This makes that the mobile app is nice to look at it, and in terms of user friendliness and functionality it’s not bad either. Though I prefer to just scroll up and down to look through the latest headlines, the way their app is organized is nice too. The top row are the major worldwide headlines and underneath it’s broken up in sections. To scroll through each section, you scroll from left to write to see more stories.

The website doesn’t have any quizzes that you can readily find. After doing a search for this type of interactivity the only page I was able to find was a page in the old BBC format that quizzes about English pronunciation (I had no right answers, I thought my pronunciation was better than that). When searching for “poll,” more than 25,000 search results show up.  I already talked about BBC’s great poll tracker for the U.S. presidential election, but it has an even better poll tracker for the U.K. elections. This poll dates all the way back to 2002, and gives a good view on how politics changed over the years. For some of the months where you can observe significant changes in public opinion you can scroll over the “i” at the top to see what happened there.

On the website you can also watch almost every BBC show of course the BBC has a huge archive of material, and much of it can be found on the website. They also effectively use this archive to include older videos in recent news articles. For example, the news article Amazon boss Jeff Bezos ‘finds Apollo 11 Moon engines’ includes old archival material of the Apollo 11 launch. One thing I have seen on other news websites, like the Dutch news website, that could be a good idea for BBC as well, would be to include a quick 1-minute news round-up video or radio broadcast to summarize the important events of the day.

One thing I miss on the BBC website is user interactivity. You can submit comments to some stories, but they are only meant for BBC journalists. Comments don’t show up on the website and that’s a shame because a discussion of news articles by users can be interesting for both the journalist and the user. To submit a comment is rather uninviting.

Searchable databases are easy to use and have made quite an interesting evolution over the years. Only three years ago, BBC was still using a left-hand navigation system. This made the website seem more like an amateur blog than a website of one of the biggest professional news organizations. But in 2010, when the BBC introduced a Global Visual Language 2.0 the navigation system received an update too. The search bar is now in the top left corner, and after putting in your search term, you are further redirected to a navigation page to narrow down your search results.

On this search page there is a nice column on the left-hand side that allows you to break down your search very well. You can search for categories, time frames, the type of media you would like to find and finally how you want your results to be sorted.

’s Design Explained

In News Website Analysis on March 12, 2012 at 8:54 pm

On the BBC Internet Blog the current BBC website design is explained. The website used to be radically different from what is today and BBC has some clear reasons why this change happened.

About three years ago, BBC printed out all its pages and posted it on a wall, now jokingly called the “Wall of Shame.” The old website was disorganized and it was hard to find information on it. So they started a project to unify the visual and interaction design of and the mobile website.

The newer website has a wider template, to accommodate wider screen resolution and created and underlying grid. The new grid is based on 31 sixteen pixel columns with two left hand columns that can be split into four, and one wider right hand column, which accommodates the ad formats that appear on the international facing version of the site.   

The goal of the new website design is simplicity, something that is a common theme throughout the site. A website needs to be easy to navigate through, which BBC has nicely accomplished. The new design is the product of a collaboration with Neville Brody from Research Studios, a multi-disciplinary creative network that has worked on things like surface graphic designs for LG, and the newspaper layout of The Times London.

They came up with 9 keywords to represent the philosophy of the website: Modern British, Current, Authentic, Compelling, Distinctive, Pioneering, Joined-Up, Universal, Best.

Another keyword I believe they could have added to this is consistency. The website makes use of only six variations in font and size combinations. The effect of this is that the website appears much more organized. Their choice in font, Gill Sans, Helvetica and Arial, would not be my choice. It is unexciting and not particularly professional in my opinion.

Pages have an overall neutral color palette, but the pages are far from boring. The website gets its color from a great amount of photography that really draws your attention.

Overall, the website design definitely changed for the better. This visual comparison below of a BBC page in 2010 and today shows it all.

BBC’s Interactive Media on U.S. Presidential Elections

In News Website Analysis on March 12, 2012 at 8:42 pm

The presidential elections are in the news everywhere on a daily basis. BBC dedicated an entire page to the election with different angles, background stories, explanations and graphs.

At the top of the page they have the headline that is the biggest story of the day. Right underneath there is a bar with some videos. Most of the videos are short newscasts about political debates or speeches. I have seen many more videos that I think they could have added to this collection of videos.

One of my favorite parts of this website is their “Meet the candidates” page. This page has all the Republican candidates seeking to stand against Barack Obama in the presidential elections. It has a short background story on each of the candidates, where they’re from, what they want to accomplish, whom they’re supported by and whom they’re not. This background story is very basic, but it also links to a more in-depth profile on the candidate that gives a better look to who they are and what they want to do.

The page is timely, updated at least once daily.

My favorite part of this page is that they have a nice graph of the popularity of each of the candidates over time. It combines polls from different sources and take them together to create the most accurate poll. You can click on each source and compare the differences between the two, which I think is great, because it gives the poll just that much more credibility.

Right underneath the poll is another great interactive. You can put two candidates next to each other, click an issue and see how they compare on the subject. Though this is an easy summary that breaks down their stances on the issue on a really basic level, it is definitely lacking a few fundamental issues that are very important, such as education, or view on the war.

The website is entertaining an interactive, but could have some more in-depth information on the election. I think most people are interested in the basics of news, they don’t have time and want quick bites of information that make them a little more informed. But for the few that do want to be fully informed, they’re not going to get all the information they need from BBC.