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December 18, 2007 / davebirss

One thumb up and one thumb down to the BBC

Over the past week, the BBC has launched a couple of beta pages. And being an opinionated bugger (and a licence fee payer) I’d just like to comment on them.

The first is the new BBC Homepage

BBC Homepage

I can see what they’re trying to do. And the underlying spirit of it is pretty good. They’re trying to offer users a kind of iGoogle customisable page. You can drag the elements around, select the number of entries you want in each topic, minimise and maximise each topic box and add your local details to make the information more geographically relevant. Brilliant! That means I don’t have to see the football stories I’m not remotely interested in. And I can access the BBC technology news stories directly from the front page.

So great thinking from a functionality point of view. There is, however, one big problem: It looks shit!

I mean, look at that clock at the top. WTF?!! And the size of the BBC logo on the left! It’s as if the stupidest, most obnoxious retail client just kept shouting “make the logo bigger!” until the designer quit the project in disgust. The titles for each topic box look as if they’re designed to be read from the other side of the room. I’m sure even the most stringent level of accessibility doesn’t require text to be this big. I’m hoping they’ll let you customise it to choose your own text size too. They’ve gone so web 2.0 on the functionality that they obviously wanted the design to match. It’s got the clichéd rounded corners and smooth gradients. All that’s missing is the reflective glass feel and a name like ‘mastrb8r’. Yuk!

And now for some good news.

BBC iPlayer

I love the new BBC iPlayer. Admittedly the design has committed its fair share of Web 2.0 offences with gradients, rounded corners AND a glass effect on the buttons. But it’s so good that I’ve managed to stop myself from blowing chunks.

I suppose I’m most impressed that it works on a Mac. I really wasn’t expecting that. It also plays the programmes in full screen – although it’s a bit flakey at the moment. To help all of us bloggy, emaily, community dudes, you can share each programme by email, facebook, delicious and all the usual stuff. It also looks like you can download the programme if you’ve got a PC – although it looks like they may soon also offer this to the sensible people who spent their money on a Mac instead.

So there we have it. This year the BBC is giving us one turkey and one cracker. God bless them!


Leave a Comment
  1. badgerboy69 / Jan 2 2008 12:20 pm

    You missed out the ‘IMHO’ 🙂

    In future, maybe the BBC (along with anyone else launching a portal) should only provide vanilla look and feel, with maybe a few optional templates, and allow us all to go CSS crazy, a la ZenGarden.

    Or you could just download the Firefox developer toolbar and set your own CSS. It is our BBC afterall, isn’t it?

    BTW – I take it you are using Parallels (or some such) to get iPlayer working on the Mac? God’damn DRM, come on BBC, sort it out!

  2. davebirss / Jan 2 2008 2:29 pm

    No need for Parallels. It just works on a Mac.
    Well, most of it.
    The viewing bit, anyway.
    The downloading-and-viewing-in-your-own-time bit is still just for Microsoft monkeys. I’m hoping they’ll sort it out for Mac-heads soon.

  3. badgerboy69 / Jan 8 2008 9:54 am

    Well there you go, so wrapped-up was I in downloading for the train that, I hadn’t even realised you could watch without the downloaded player :-s

    Suddenly the world seems a brighter place.

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