Popular, but so new anymore

 by Martin Belam, 1 June 2006

Yesterday the BBC dropped from the UK homepage the little "New" tag that had been next to the "See what's popular and new" link since the 24th May.

New tag for the Popular and new link on the BBC homepage

The "Popular and new" page has been revamped to include data from a few more sources. It was a project that went on for some time within the BBC - it was already late when I left back in December.

The new version includes the latest articles and campaigns from the DNA powered sites Action Network, collective and h2g2. There is also a Celebdaq panel, statistical output from the BBC's radio player, and links through to popular clips from the Film Network site. A nice touch is that the "Most emailed stories" list now tells you how many times a story has been emailed - so you can watch the power curve law of popularity in action. The foot of the page includes top tens of popular searches from three datasets - the BBC, the BBC News site, and the CBBC search service.

The BBC's Popular and new page

A couple of gripes - when the popular searches in the header get long, they are truncated. It looks a bit odd to me, and seems like it could potentially go wrong depending on what the words were - I'd worry about exactly where 'Scunthorpe' might get truncated.

Popular search on the BBC's Popular and new page

I would have thought it would have been just as easy to add up the character count for the three searches, and only display two if it exceeds the available space, in the same way that the headlines on the homepage either carry 2 or 3 stories depending on length.

Secondly, I like the idea of the huge date in the banner re-enforcing the idea that the content is current, but I find that the 'last updated' strap underneath it looks like it is just a rather ugly default Apache generated timestamp, which visually goes against the grain of the rest of the page.

The BBC's Popular and new page banner

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