New look for Radio 2

The home of Terry Wogan, Steve Wright, Russell Brand, Jonathan Ross, Bob Dylan, Chris Evans, Claudia Winkleman, Courtney Pine and many more is set to get a new look online – and the team aren’t taking any risks.

Well I say they aren’t taking any risks – they are changing the design and navigation of a heavily visited website aimed at an audience not particularly open to the idea of regular and rapid change – but at least they’ll cope better than the Radio 4 audience will.

I am of course talking about Radio 2 who will very soon see their site move into the new wide format that already encases Radio 1, 6music, 5 Live, Radio 3 and BBC 7 (the later very slightly controversially).

The station that includes Dale Winton, Jeremy Vine, Jools Holland, Mark Lemar and Richard Hammond among its presentation fraternity will move to put /programmes at the centre of the site (much like all the other radio sites).

The show pages will stay pretty much the same to start with (much like Radio 1 and 6music did with their re-launch) but will eventually change.

A quote for you “We’ll be redesigning the network’s show pages next but we wanted to bring listeners some of the benefits of features we are able to deliver now.”

That comes from the page that drew the inspiration for my ‘not taking any risks’ comment at the start of this blog post.

Speaking of the show pages – the page also explains what will be in the gap (although if you already follow this sort of thing you’ll know it is the network branding).

“If you are a regular visitor to Radio 2 then you will notice that the actual content area on many pages hasn’t changed but the page layout has.

“This results in a lot of space on the left-hand side of those pages. We have used the network’s branding to fill the space whilst we continue to work on redesigning the existing site.”

Show Page

You see what’s different about the BBC Radio 2 re-launch is that they’ve taken on board the lessons learnt from the massive negative response to the BBC 7 re-launch and are telling their users/listener well in advance of the changes set to come.

The Some Changes page takes the form and template of a show page but is basically full of information and screen grabs on the changes people can expect from Monday 27 October at bbc.co.uk/radio2.

Some of the changes include clearer and cleaner navigation – across the top instead of down the site, big promotional boxes, bolder colours etc…

Content has also been better organised into fewer more distinct sections that before. Again to the page: “The Radio 2 Homepage had been redesigned and reorganised into distinct sections with bigger promotional spaces to allow us to tell you more about what’s available on the site and the station.”

(all images on this page from the BBC Radio 2 Some Changes page)

Some Changes

I already mentioned it will make use of the /programmes page – well this will come in through the schedule and by providing an archive of specific episodes of shows.

Basically this means you can go to the Russell Brand page and then go back through every show to get an overview of what was said – this is already directly available through /programmes but will now be available under the radio 2 format as well.

Schedule

The other area they seem to have got it right is in asking for feedback.

They say: “We’d really like to hear your comments and feedback on the changes that are taking place. Please use the contact form on this page to let us know your thoughts.”

Now feedback is regularly asked for – and given – on new BBC website changes but it normally comes AFTER the site has been changed and on the BBC Internet Blog (which really speaks to the converted/initiated).

What’s different about this approach is that the feedback is being asked for BEFORE the launch and on the same site that the people using it stay/hang out.

Although a public beta would be more useful than a few screenshots.

James Cridland – BBC Audio & Music interactive big brain talks about this issue on his blog – seemingly after a geek crush conversation with Digg’s Kevin Rose.

Apparently Kevin told James (in response to a question about the negative response to BBC 7 et al): “Tell your audience what you’re doing. Show them your new designs, talk them through them, listen to them.”

Which is very good advice and advice the BBC seem to be taking on a more consistent basis – although it will be interesting to see how people react to the new BBC Local pages when they launch – I’ve seen them and although they look good – they’re also VERY different.

It’s great to see new designs, new look pages and these wider templates are bringing the BBC into a more consistent visual and navigation language – but people don’t like change and when they clearly tell us things they don’t like – we should take it on board.

Kevin Rose also told James: “People don’t like change, so you’ll get a few days of pain, but if you still have problems after a few weeks, it’s time to look at what they’re saying and taking them seriously”.

Can an organisation like the BBC actually do that? Are we open enough yet to listen and where there are lots of consistent complaints about something specific – do something about it?

You can do that HERE.

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