The New iPlayer: Why the BBC got it right

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The BBC recently rolled out the beta release of its new iPlayer site dubbed ‘The New BBC iPlayer”, and I really think they nailed it on the head this time. Boasting the chic, up-to-the-minute design of apps and websites today—a large format, totally flat app-like interface—the new layout gives us what we’ve all been waiting for, responsiveness.

The creative director behind the project—self-confessed type geek Kutlu Çanlıoğlu (don’t ask me how you pronounce that!)—was the guy who worked on delivering a semi-responsive BBC World Service site, rolled out last year (see his lecture at Ampersand 2013 about it here); much of the design influence for the new iPlayer can be seen in World Service, including a focus on typography and devices. The BBC site thoroughly embraced its strict new Helvetica based “Global Experience Language” (GEL), which—although champions a strict design methodology—I believe has unfortunately moved away from the more traditional Gill Sans-based branding that I think distinguishes the BBC (it also uses a baseline grid… seriously? a big no-no in the digital realm; you can tell Kutlu as born from print).

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(Images sourced from the BBC Internet Blog)

In recent years the BBC has slowly—and somewhat hesitantly—been implementing its responsiveness, of which there is still a lack of site-wide support, and what can I say? It is a massive improvement that has been long in the waiting, I can only hope the rest of the BBC site catches up with the quality of its iPlayer beta.

Related to my work

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My idea (on mobile)

Last year (2013) I submitted a design idea for a BBC digital brief for the News Section and it’s archives (for the D&AD Student Awards), I must say I got slightly carried away in that I redesigned the complete BBC site so it worked responsively. Instead of having buried content and sections favoured over others, I proposed an app like system for each section, which would drop down when an icon was clicked, and that the user could curate to their needs by adding or removing the sections.

The main feature I introduced, which could be a real game changer for the BBC, is a twitter feed alongside news feeds and iPlayer videos, allowing users not only to see what other people are talking about in relation to the content by retrieving the hashtag for the program/story, but allowing the user to also add in their opinion by tweeting from the site.

MattThe New iPlayer: Why the BBC got it right