BBC launches new look mobile website

Last week the BBC launched a new look homepage for mobile users. ‘The new design emphasises imagery compared with the previous design. Those images have been optimised for your device and bandwidth, so the page loading speed is never compromised.’ In essence this is a very good idea, however, many BBC mobile users do not appear to be impressed. Here are just a few of the comments posted in the aftermath of the change.

“the front page articles link to the desktop site. So this new front end is worthless”

“Images way too big”

“AWFUL I am all for progress but this is not progress if it isn’t broken don’t fix it!”

So what went wrong with the update and why are users not happy with the changes?


The BBC obviously tested their changes prior to implementing, however, they did not do so sufficiently. Links were broken at the time of the change and connected to the desktop site. The lesson here is to test more extensively in the Beta phase and ensure that links are always linking to the correct place.

Maintain Popular Features

The previous version of the mobile homepage enabled users to customise the content they received. The new homepage doesn’t support this feature and many comments express frustration at its removal. The BBC obviously did not fully analyse users behaviour, or they did and decided this feature was not popular enough. If they had analysed behaviour successfully I expect they would have seen that among frequent users customisation was heavily used.

Performance Matters

On 8 February 2015 the previous homepage had a total page size of less than 600kb. Most of this was made up of images and background technology like jQuery. The new homepage weighs in at just under 1MB, or a 70 percent increase in page size.

Much of this is to do with images, many of which just aren’t needed. Many of the images downloaded (those for the footer and iPlayer) are never displayed unless you explore all the navigation or have a large enough screen.

Images are slow to load and use high amounts of bandwidth, even when optimised. A successfully optimised mobile website should normally reduce the use of images, not increase it. It appears the BBC may have blinded by beauty rather than functionality in this case.

Page Layout

The old BBC mobile homepage and the new homepage contain the same number of internal links to news stories, at 18 each. However, on the new homepage, only 1 of these links is visible without scrolling, reducing functionality of the website. The 18 links are now spread over six screens, where previously only 3.5 screens had been needed. This increase iS partly due to increased use of images, but also inefficient layout.

Linking to additional website content is of great importance, especially from the homepage of a news website. This could be done in a more efficient way through the use of website personalisation to limit the options that users see, this can have a huge impact on the performance of a website.

Increased Optimisation Needed

Smartphone and tablet screen sizes now range from 4-10 inches. That’s a big difference and one layout doesn’t often work for them all.

Another common misconception is that tablets and desktops/laptops should receive the same layout viagra a vendre suisse. However, there are many differences in how these devices are used and their performance. Optimising websites to specific screen sizes to include small screen mobile (11”) would reduce many of the problems identified with the BBC’s new mobile homepage.

Where Now?

It does appear that the BBC have listened to some of the users comments and feedback with future personal and GEO customised content being provided to users.

“More varied local content, such as Travel News alerts, fast and up to date content from BBC News’s Local Live and interesting activities that are going on around your local area”

“Save your favourite stories to read, watch and listen to later”

Image heavy websites are aesthetically pleasing and help users to visualise content, however, website performance is also of great importance and should not be compromised at the expense of beauty. The BBC needs to ensure they focus on both factors when making changes to their website in the future.

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