Cyberjournalist has the scoop on the BBC launching a beta version of their redesigned homepage. You can view the beta site here and the current version here. Note that this redesign affects only the main BBC homepage and not the BBC News homepage, which is where I spend most of my time.

A quick perusal of the new homepage shows that the BBC is trying to turn its homepage into an Ajax style start page like Netvibes or Pageflakes. I’m not opposed to the idea, but the execution here is pretty poor. The whole thing is clunky, but what really jumps out is how poorly designed the customization options are.

Here is what it looks like out of the box:


I’m not a fan of magenta, so I immediately clicked on the Display Option link at the top to try to make a magenta-free version. After clicking that you are given the options to select from eight preset color schemes or create your own. Sounds great. The problem is that all the preset options look absolutely terrible.

This is a screenshot of one called Comfort 1.


Here is Comfort 4.


This is what I get when I switch to High Viz 1.


I played around with the Customize option as well and could not make it look any better.

I’m really not sure my screenshots do justice to how bad it looks. The design completely falls apart when you change Display Options to the point where it makes the BBC homepage look like a bad MySpace page or something you’d see on Geocities back in 1997. This needs a major overhaul before it is made live. This is an alpha release, not a beta.

Update: In the comments of this post, Richard Hodgson of the BBC writes: “To clarify, the ‘Display Options’ link is intended to provide visually impaired users with alternative viewing modes.” I do not think that is at all clear. I read every word of instructions and reached the conclusion that this was the area of the site where I could customize the look and feel of the site to suit my personal taste. I think this should be clarified.

On another front, BBC is clearly playing around with the colors of the site. The magenta is gone already, and has been replaced by a somewhat more pleasing tint of orange. Screengrab below.


About the Author
Todd Zeigler
Todd Zeigler serves as the Brick Factory’s chief strategist and oversees the operations of the firm. In his sixteen year career in digital, he has planned and implemented campaigns for clients including the Pickens Plan, International Youth Foundation, Panthera, Edison Electric Institute, and the American Chemistry Council. Todd develops ambitious online advocacy programs, manages crises, implements online marketing strategies, and develops custom applications and software. He is bad at golf though.