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.






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