So today I finally managed to get my entry together for the BBC 'reboot' homepage redesign project. I called my design, rather boringly, BBC:refresh (which I notice now has also been used by another design - BBC 2.0 - refresh).
The stated goal of the redesign was to include some 'personalisation' and general 'web 2.0' stuff, which definitely sounds like a top-down management priority to me. Whilst personalisation can make for a great feature, I think you have to be very careful about how and what you personalise. From user testing work I've been involved in, most users seem to want to simply be 'given' the most important information so they can get a general overview. There's also a problem in that excessive personalisation can end up giving you the nagging feeling that you're missing out on something. So, in my design, I've only used personalisation where it makes absolute sense.
The most important bit of personalisation that I've assumed is around the BBC's TV and radio content. Most people watch a specific set of programmes and listen to a set choice of radio stations/programmes, plus perhaps also flicking around aimlessly when nothing better is on. With video and audio content being delivered in an ever-wider range of ways, from digital tv and radio through on-demand internet streaming, downloads, podcasts, and so on, I think it becomes ever more important to be able to keep track of your favorite media. Therefore I'd like the BBC website to be able to introduce a 'subscribe' mechanism on all tv and radio shows. The website should then keep track of when new episodes/shows are coming up, giving me information on how I can consume them, be it via the TV or through the website itself. As a PVR owner, this 'season subscribe' functunality is definitely a 'killer app' which I think would also be a killer app on the web.
I've also renamed all the traditionally tv-delivered content as being part of 'watch' and all traditionally radio-delivered content as being 'listen'. Whilst this is slightly less straightforward, it acknowledges the disruption of the traditional broadcast media by the internet. Video content no longer just comes from the telly - it can come from websites like YouTube and the BBC's Comedy Soup. Audio content no longer just comes over the radio airwaves, it can also be podcast and downloaded. For the BBC website to show that it understands by renaming the sections might piss off the TV and radio departments (and hence not happen), but would show the BBC as being 'web 2.0' more than anything else would...
The rest of my design is less of a major change. The news section gets a bigger image, the 'where i live section' gets renamed as whatever place you chosen, and just frankly contains a bit more useful content, and the 'explore' section becomes three deep-level promos rather than a boring directory. Other bits of personalisation include within the 'talk' box, which lists the BBC messageboard conversations you're involved in, and sport, which lists the sports and teams you follow.
The 'watch' and 'listen' boxes also contain promos, with the idea being that you could actually listen to and watch the clips on the homepage itself, via the magic of Flash, without having to go off to another page or load a pop-up window with a forever buffering Real Player applet. I think this is even more useful for the audio clip than it is for the video clip, as it's really difficult to promote a radio show online because you can't rely on a few still images like you can with video. Being able to play people a short audio clip or trailer would enable much smarter promotion of audio content.
You can read more about my design, include my thoughts on the current bbc homepage design, over at my BBC:refresh mini-site. As you can leave comments there, as well as on the entry page on the BBC reboot site (whenever it gets added), I've disabled comments below.