Tag Archives: the Beeb

BBC Trust: bbc.co.uk internal search and external linking need ‘major improvements’

The BBC‘s internal website search is ‘not seen as very effective’ by users, according to a review of the site released by the BBC Trust today.

The number of visits to bbc.co.uk pages that were the result of referrals from the site’s internal search engine dropped from 24% during the last three months of 2006 to 19% over the same period in 2007.

In contrast, 70% of search engine referrals came from Google.

“The search just throws everything at you, you would have to spend ages just looking through the pages to find what you need,” one respondent to the Trust’s research said.

The Trust was also ‘disappointed’ with the number of click-throughs generated by external links on bbc.co.uk and criticised the Beeb’s relationship with other content-sharing websites:

“We are also not convinced that BBC management’s ambition to be ‘part of’ the web rather than ‘on it’ by embedding BBC content in other sites (such as Youtube) plays any role in acting as a ‘trusted guide’ to the wider web.  Rather, this is mainly a way of marketing BBC content to those who might not otherwise access it.”

The links to other sites form part of the BBC’s role as a ‘trusted guide’ online.

According to the review, there were 6.7 million click-throughs to external sites from bbc.co.uk in July 2007 – 4.7 million of which originated in the UK.

However, the number of click-throughs from sport and news – the most visited areas of the site – have decreased year-on-year since 2006.

BBC management suggested this decline is a result of the BBC site being seen as a ‘destination’ rather than a way to navigate the web. The Trust argued that issues of accessibility and effectiveness were the problem.

The risk of the BBC becoming a ‘dominant gateway service’ is ‘very much alive’ and requires effective external linking to avoid this, the review stated.

As such the Trust has asked BBC management to submit plans on improving linking and other ways to help users navigate beyond the BBC.

Happy birthday WWW!

Screen grab of second online newspaper to be launched, September 1993

Today is the 15th birthday of the World Wide Web, marked by the CERN announcement on April 30 1993 that the web would be free to all.

It’s a cue to sit back and marvel at how much has changed in a relatively small amount of time and post screen shots that may induce the same feeling as mum fetching the baby photos.

After the WWW age was born, online news and journalism was swift to follow: The Tech – an online version of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology newspaper, went live in May 1993; closely followed by the first journalism site from the University of Florida that October.

By 1994 there were already more than 20 online newspaper and journalism services. The Sunday Times and the Daily Telegraph were the first British papers to enter the online world in 1994 with the Beeb taking slightly longer to catch up, launching its news website in 1997.

1999 saw the launch of Journalism.co.uk in its first form and my haven’t we grown…

Screen grab of Journalism.co.uk in 1999

With web technology advancing daily, the slick news sites of today will surely be drawing fond smiles in another 15 years.

Happy birthday Web, here’s to many more…

Happy Birthday BBC News website

The BBC News website celebrates its 10th birthday this week – though no exact date can be pinned down according to the corporation.

The look of the place has changed a lot in the last decade as this screengrab from December 1 1998, courtesy of the Way Back Machine internet archive, shows (though even then you can get your news in video and audio, and Gordon Brown still manages to top the bill).

BBC News website 1998

But the changes aren’t over given the recent goings on at the Beeb: the future promises an on-demand personalised news service, more user-generated content and an integrated multimedia newsroom.

Notably, BBC News Interactive – the department that set up the BBC’s news site – will cease to exist. In his blog, Steve Herrmann, former editor of BBC News interactive and now editor of BBC News website, says the integration process has ‘clear benefits’ for the website.

But Herrmann also acknowledges the risks involved. “From my point of view, I am concerned that the editorial coherence of the news website should not be sacrificed in the name of efficiency,” he writes. Shouldn’t integration naturally strengthen editorial coherence?

What the BBC News website will look like by the end of this year, let alone by the end of another ten, is anybody’s guess, but what would you keep and what should be the first thing to go?