BBC Live8 Homepage

 by Martin Belam, 1 July 2005

Late this afternoon we launched an adapted version of the BBC homepage to cover the Live8 events taking place across the globe tomorrow.

Live8 BBC Homepage

Firstly we've added a panel carrying links through to news about the events during the day. We've done this based on the Live8 RSS feed that our Radio & Music Interactive department are producing. It's fantastic that we are starting to re-use these RSS feeds as content providers around our own site. A couple of years ago I remember being in meetings where the concept of "BBC XML" was starting to be talked about - one BBC-wide XML standard that would make all of our systems and content interoperable. Then thankfully someone else invented RSS and did the work for us. *Phew*

Centre-stage on the homepage this weekend though, in a big banner graphic, is the streaming coverage that the BBC has online of the Live8 event taking place in Cornwall - you know, the one that apart from the gig in South Africa, actually features some African musicians.

It was touch'n'go for a while today whether we launched at all. Even late in the afternoon we were still waiting for confirmation that the ink had dried on the requisite contracts. Suddenly one of legal team emerged clutching a piece of paper in the manner of Neville Chamberlain - there would be Live8 in our time. About half the people remaining in the office either let out a collective sigh or an exultant "Thank fuck for that".

Of course, every silver lining has a cloud, and by the time the news came through the only person in the building able to put the page live was me. I hate doing this. I can't stress enough the knot I get in my stomach every time I know that what I am about to do in an FTP client from my laptop is going to affect the BBC homepage - in this case replacing the homepage template file with a new one.

So I put the page live succesfully, breathed a huge sigh of relief, and then took the phone call that said "The graphic looks funny". Sure enough, due to some last minute copy tweaks we had inadvertantly reverted to a version of the GIF file that was the wrong size by one pixel. Multi-skilling in a way that would have brought a swift tap on the shoulder from a cameraman, I had to then edit the graphics and re-upload them. Did I mention that I hate having to edit the BBC homepage in the live environment?

We changed the page significantly a couple of weeks ago for the Doctor Who finale, and once again we are fishing for user reaction with a dedicated feedback page and a call-to-action on the homepage itself. We made some changes to the layout based on the feedback we got for the Doctor Who page

As you may have noticed, we have changed the layout of the homepage for the Live 8 - Africa Calling events this weekend.

We have taken into account your comments from when we changed the page for the final episode of Doctor Who on the 18th June. We have therefore kept the promotional banner smaller, and retained all of the existing links on the homepage.

We'd like to hear your views on this weekend's changes to the homepage, and what you think about this new layout in terms of look, feel and usability. Please use the form below to let us know what you think. Unfortunately, we can't reply to all feedback sent via this page, but every single email will be read by the site producer. Next week we will publish a selection of your comments in the section of the Points of View messageboard.
Contacting Us: Live 8 changes to BBC homepage

I'm a bit nervous about how much mail we may generate - the Doctor Who page generated nearly 1,500 emails, and it was only available for 20 hours. This version of the page will be used, with some small changes, for nearly three days. We've also opened up a threads on the Points of View message board about the changes (one in the topic, one in the Africa Lives topic), although last time we generated very little comment there.

We are particularly interested to find out how people feel about the look, feel and layout of the page. Are there too many links? Do you like having more of a graphical feel to the page? Do you think we should be doing more of these special themed treatments, or are we just fixing something that ain't broke?

All of the team working on the homepage would be really keen to hear your views.

We really would - have a look and then go and comment.

1 Comment

Oi, where's my obligitary plug! heheheh

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