When you go to bbc.co.uk at the very top of the page is a search box. This isn’t particularly unusual as there is a search box at the top of almost every page – including this one.
What is different, or at least slightly more important about the BBC search box is the fact that it sits on top of the third most visited site in Europe.
This fact alone made BBC Web Search one of the most popular online. But that puts the BBC in an interesting position, because really it shouldn’t and doesn’t need to be replicating a service that exists already and is available in dozens of different flavours.
The main point of the BBC search box was and still is to help you find content on the MASSIVE bbc.co.uk website – not around the rest of the web.
Well now the BBC seem to have reset the focus – although you can still tick the ‘The Web’ radio box on the homepage to get to the old web search engine – it’s been removed from the normal results and isn’t checked by default.
Now the focus is squarly on finding BBC content and the layout has seen a massive improvement.
First it’s been moved into the new template style – so its centre aligned and wide with the BBC deep BBC black bar across the top.
But the box layout has stayed in place – it just looks and works better now it has more room to breath and show itself off.
In the main column you get the search results – so I searched for Jersey and got all the results on bbc.co.uk for my little island.
It also breaks the results down by site as well and gives you the news & sport results with a time stamp to show how old they are.
Then on the right hand side you have a box with TV & Radio results – that pulls data from /programmes and underneath that you have the news & sport results.
Then at the bottom you have a couple of BBC selected ‘also on the web’ results with a link to the full web search underneath that.
At the top, below the BBC bar you get three boxes – a chance to refine your search results by type of result. This used to be a choice of BBC, News & Sport, Web and A/V (if I’m remembering correctly).
Now it gives you the choice of All Results, News & Sport and TV & Radio Programmes. Which has really only been possible since the launch of /programmes – a site that gives EVERY BBC show its own place on the web.
This seems to be restricted to shows on network stations at the momen and shows aired since /programmes first went into beta – but my understanding is that it will eventually include ALL BBC shows from all time.
BBC Local Radio shows should be added to /programmes by early 2009 – not sure about the BBC Archive shows – they may already be in there.
The /programme pages are also fairly text heavy at the moment – unless its a current show, in which case it should have an iPlayer window.
But a post on the BBC Internet Blog suggests this will be expanded to include video clips of the shows as well – this got me wondering whether /topgear will be converted into a /programmes site given the size and investment in topgear.com by BBC Worldwide.
The other area is News & Sport.
This pretty much speaks for itself to be honest – its results from the BBC News & Sport websites. On the left you get the text results – direct links to stories (that you can sort by date or relevance) and on the right you get Audio and Video clips.
I was thinking it might have been nice to have been able to play (especially the audio clips) the clips directly from the results instead of having to go to the page first – but then I thought that might make load times so painful it wouldn’t be worth the effort.
All in all its a nice change, not sure the results are going to be any more helpful – I personally use an advanced Google Search when I’m looking for stories I’ve written (although you can search for my name, Ryan Morrison, on BBC search to find ‘some’ of my articles.
Find out more about the update on Fabric of Folly and the BBC Internet Blog.
Here’s a big image of the search results page for you.