BBC Goes for Touch-Friendly Beta Website

Mike Halsey MVP
Nov 23, 2011
Updated • Nov 23, 2011

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has for many years now had one of the biggest and most visited websites on the whole Internet.  The company has taken great pride over the years and in 2002 a leaked document, still available online called "The Glass Wall" provided a masterclass in website usability that many people still consider an invaluable document today.  Now though the broadcaster is taking things to the next level with what can only be described as a properly touch-friendly website.

The new beta site can be found at and displays an almost metro'esque sliding panel system with more traditional links in the bottom half of the page.  The whole web needs to move inexorably towards full and complete touch-friendliness in short order.  The amount of people using Tablets to navigate the web is already growing exponentially, and the forthcoming Windows 8 with it's touch-centric interface will mean that by the end of 2012 touch-screens will be the norm on new PCs and laptops.

I myself am currently revamping my own website to make it completely touch-friendly and will be relaunching the new design within a week or two.  It's noticeable however that the major players, including Amazon, eBay and YouTube haven't yet caught on to the fact that traditional drop down menus, text links and crowded lists simply can't be used effectively with touch.

This does raise interesting questions as to whether website UI components that we've come to know and love such as dynamic drop down menus and text lists can survive the transition to touch at all.  Any touch website has to be cross-compatible with every touch device, and many will work in their own unique way.  When it comes to touch on computers a proper standard is yet to emerge, if it ever will, about how swipe and touch gestures are interpreted.

The BBC haven't got everything right when it comes to touch, but this is still a beta and with a website as utterly enormous as this, with literally terabytes of video, educational and article content sitting underneath it would be extremely difficult to create an interface simple enough and that included everything.

In part this is the biggest challenge that the touch web, and touch-screen apps as well, has to overcome.  For things to be truly finger-friendly you have to limit what is available and make clever use of screen real-estate, this is a challenge I had to content with as I too have ever growing libraries of video and other content on my own website.  For a small site like my own it's easy to juggle things around, for the BBC and other major corporations however the challenge might simply be too big.

The new design is lovely, I think anyway and a radical departure from the current BBC homepage with it's customisable and arrangeable tiles (circa Yahoo from some years ago).  The design will no doubt change slightly, indeed I have noticed changes being implemented within the last 24 hours.  It is great though to see this website, deliberately or otherwise being made finger-friendly.  Pressure now needs to be brought on the other major website owners to do the same, and do it quickly.  It is entirely possible however they they won't even consider this until their visitor numbers begin to drop, and by then it might well be too late for them.


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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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