Recent posts in my Articles Category

November 29, 2010

No more ‘us and them’: How 20 years of digital comms smashed the boundaries between media & audience

This is the first of a series of blog posts based on a presentation I gave at the UK UPA's World Usability Day event in London in November 2010. The theme of World Usability Day was 'communication', and so I took the opportunity to look at how digital communication in the last twenty years has transformed the relationship between media companies and their audience. You can view the original slides, or download the whole series as a printable PDF....
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March 4, 2010

The Winter Olympics online review: Part 1

The opening post in a series looking at online newspaper coverage of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics from around the world.

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January 5, 2010

The UX of moving house...with a pregnant spouse: Part 1

Last year my wife and I bought a house for the first time. She was heavily pregnant during the process, and so I did much more of the leg-work that I'd usually expect to. Naturally, I tried to do everything online, and document the good and the bad about the information architecture and user experience as I went along. This is the first of a series of posts based on a presentation of my findings, which I originally gave at 'London IA in the pub' in October 2009.

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November 30, 2009

Africa in the FIFA World Cup: Part 1 - The thirties

Africa in the FIFA World Cup
A series of posts looking at the history of African teams appearing in the World Cup, from Egypt in 1934 to South Africa hosting in 2010.

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September 14, 2009

'Linked Data and the future of journalism' - part 1

Linked data and the future of journalism
I recently appeared on a panel debating linked data and journalism. Here is a transcript of what I said.

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August 13, 2009

Interview with Martin Belam: Part 1 - Internet and intranet navigation trends

News and Information Architecture
A series of video clips of me being interviewed by Ben Veasey about the news industry and information architecture.

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July 28, 2009

Social media unplugged: Part 1 - Digg and StumbleUpon

Social media unplugged
A series of posts looking at the user experience of social bookmarking sites when people first visit them via clicking an icon.

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July 20, 2009

The tyranny of chronology: Part 1 - From year-by-year to minute-by-minute

The tyranny of chronology
Martin Belam's presentation at the News Innovation London conference, looking at the development of news from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle to the digital formats of the future.

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July 2, 2009

Activate 09 at The Guardian: Notes and take-away quotes - Part 1

June 24, 2009

How major publishers are using social media to drive traffic - Part 1

How major publishers are using social media to drive traffic
An article based on my presentation at May's International Social Media Summit.

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April 22, 2009

London IA Mini Conference review - Part 1

On Monday night The Guardian hosted the first London IA Mini Conference, and yesterday I published an extended version of my presentation on the night: "Introducing Information Architecture at The Guardian" Photo by Nizam Here is the first part of my notes from the rest of the evening after I'd spoken. "Agile UX" - Cennydd Bowles Cennydd was ambitiously trying to pull off what looked like a 45 minute presentation in 10 minutes, and managed it impressively. He was looking...
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April 21, 2009

"Introducing Information Architecture at The Guardian"

"Introducing Information Architecture at The Guardian"
My presentation at the recent London IA Mini Conference explains my role as Information Architect at

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March 25, 2009

Web search at the BBC: Part 1 - The beginning is the end is the beginning

"A key part of BBCi's mission has always been to offer a trusted guide to the Web. Over the years we've helped thousands of people to use the Internet through our WebWise training and through our WebGuide to the best sites on the Web. Now, with 80 per cent of those asked believing that current search engines could be better, according to a recent NOP survey, BBCi is developing its role as a trusted guide by launching BBCi Search...
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March 18, 2009

"Stacks, Readers, Staff" - Building the British Library

I was at a fascinating British Library event last week called "A building for now and the future: the British Library after 10 years". It was a look back at the torturous process by which the new building came to be built. In fact, prior to this government's woeful recent IT record, building the British Library was the text-book example of how not to run a public sector procurement project. Photo courtesy of stevecadman Architect Sir Colin St. John 'Sandy'...
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February 16, 2009

The BBC's "Points Of View" online culture clash - Part 1

I've been watching with interest the way that the BBC has been trying to discuss future developments for their interactive online services like blogs and messageboards in an open way. However, rather than make the process smoother, they have managed to get the collective back of the Points Of View messageboard up, and Jemima Kiss picked up on the story in the Guardian. Seeing how events then unfolded is a very interesting study in group dynamics online. A BBC Points...
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February 9, 2009

Wireframing the front page: Part 1 - The "homepage"

I've been giving a lot of thought to the way that people navigate through newspaper websites, and it has made me consider the different functions that the homepage and the front page serve. Navigation, for example, is mostly redundant on the printed front page. Occasionally a paper might have something like "Turn to Page 7" to link to the continuation of a story, or a promo for the sports section, but generally the front page functions to sell one major...
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January 29, 2009

Navigating newspapers: Part 1 - We are what we label

Navigation teaser

Navigating Newspapers
I'm publishing a new 5 part series looking at the global navigation of the UK's most popular newspaper websites

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January 7, 2009

Local search: Using site search in regional press websites - Part 1

Since the end of November I have been publishing a rather loose collection of articles looking at some of the features of the UK's leading regional newspaper sites. I've picked 20 sites that represent the print papers with the largest circulation, and cover the major publishing groups. So far I've looked at the provision of online video, local news RSS feeds and their subscriber numbers, and the spread of social bookmarking links through the sites. Today I'm starting a...
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December 10, 2008

Thoughts, notes and quotes from the Online Information 2008 Seminars: Part 1

Last week I was at the Online Information Exhibition in Olympia, representing my role as a contributing editor for FUMSI at the FreePint stand. It also meant I got a chance to wander around lots of the stalls, and to attend quite a few sessions for the 5-track free seminar programme that takes place away from the main Online Information presentation programme. Although it is very much the younger sibling of the event, the seminars nevertheless had a series...
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October 29, 2008

Taking the 'Ooh' out of Google: Getting site search right - Part 1

Over the course of the next couple of weeks I want to present an expanded version of the presentation I gave at the 2008 Euro IA Summit in Amsterdam at the end of September. There I was talking about "Taking the 'Ooh' out of Google" and getting site search right for news. Over this series of posts I hope to show how you can use additional information about content that Google can't get access to to make your site...
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September 30, 2008

Take-away facts and quotes from the 2008 Euro IA Summit in Amsterdam - Part 1

Over the weekend I've been in Amsterdam attending the 2008 European Information Architecture Summit. It was held at the Tuschinski Theatre, which was a simply amazing venue. Despite a couple of schedule clashes - including missing a much anticipated presentation by Deanna Marbeck and Silver Oliver because it coincided with my own session - I got to see a great selection of presentations. Here are some of my take-away facts and quotes from the morning of day one. Keynote...
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September 27, 2008

Social media and TV news: Measuring social media success

Over the last week I've been publishing a series of articles looking at the social media performance of the websites belonging to some 24 hour news channels, including CNN, the BBC, Sky News, Al Jazeera, Russia Today, Euronews and France 24. The results have been derived from a thirty day study I carried out in July and August 2008, taking half-hourly snapshots of Delicious, Digg, Fark, Mixx, Newsvine, Reddit, StumbleUpon and Yahoo! Buzz to look for prominent media URLs....
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September 15, 2008

Measuring UK newspaper success with social media

It seems these days that the majority of mainstream media websites on both sides of the Atlantic, whether print or television based, have littered their online design with icons begging users to Digg this, StumbleUpon that, let people know they've Reddit, or describe it as Fark. I wanted to know whether adding this rash of buttons actually drives the audience to bookmark and share content, or whether users do it based on the strength of the content and news brand,...
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September 1, 2008

The Mirror re-design review: Part 1

Earlier this year The Daily Mirror re-vamped their website, giving it much more of a visual-led magazine feel. At the time I didn't get the chance to do a review, but as I recently reviewed the re-design of The Telegraph, I thought I would have a look at how the new Mirror design has settled in. Old Mirror design New Mirror design Global navigation and mouse-over As seems to be the fashion at the moment, The Mirror has gone for...
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August 25, 2008

Telegraph redesign review - Part 1

I had a couple of people get in touch and ask if I was going to be doing a review of The Telegraph's recent re-design. In truth, with my trip to Macau, and a scarcity of Internet access over the last few weeks, the Telegraph site had been live for a while before I even got to have a peek at it out of curiosity, let alone to do an in-depth review. It didn't, at the time of writing, look...
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August 1, 2008

A brief history of Olympic dissent: Athens 1896

The selection of Beijing and The People's Republic of China to host the 2008 Olympics was always a controversial choice, which has thrown a sometimes unwelcome spotlight on the country. China's record on Internet censorship, human rights, the death penalty and the environment have all been questioned by the Western media as they cover the build-up to the games, and the torch relay, intended to be a celebration of the spirit of the games, was instead a focal point...
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July 10, 2008

A lifetime of lost playlists: Part 1 - Pump up the volume

Format-driven changes in my music consumption over thirty years Nowadays we are surrounded by 'attention' data about music. Amazon tells us that other people who bought the same music as us also liked something else. The iTunes music store gauges the relative popularity of tracks from an artist. Last FM allows us to let all our Facebook friends know what we've just been listening to - however embarrassing it might be. And we miss it when it isn't there....
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July 7, 2008

Daily Mail website review for the Press Gazette

If you were interested in my opinions of the Daily Mail's recent website re-design, but found you didn't have time to wade through my over-wordy multi-part review the other week, you might be interested in an article published in the most recent edition of Press Gazette. They asked me to contribute a much shorter review of the Mail for their 'Expert Eye' column - "Net gains for Mail Online". The longer review series has also been summarised on The Editor's...
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July 4, 2008

"People, Places, Subjects" - BBC Topic and Guardian keyword pages: Part 1

Some time in 2001 I went to my first ever meeting with people from BBC News Online. I was enthusiastic, fresh-faced, and completely oblivious to the 'difficult sibling' history that existed between the BBC New Media & Technology department where I worked, and the senior managers from BBC News Online that I was meeting. I suggested they do two things. Firstly, remove the 'noindex' meta tag at the individual story level on Secondly, based on the evidence of search...
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June 23, 2008

The Daily Mail site redesign: Part 1 - Navigation & RSS

Way back when I first started the currybetdotnet blog, the Daily Mail was one of the first newspapers to get its own category, as I alternated between writing about BBCi Search and having a go at the Mail's coverage of things like London's telephone numbering system. These days, I try very hard to keep my honest appraisal of the Daily Mail's site functionality apart from my occasional irritation with the editorial coverage in the paper of things like games and...
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June 20, 2008

"You're wired!" - 7 things The Apprentice can teach you about new media projects

I'd never watched The Apprentice until this year, when a procession of people we were staying with in London had it as unmissable 'appointment' television. I was immediately hooked, and once we got back to Greece, I had an unmissable 'appointment' to download the show as quickly as possible every Thursday morning, whilst trying to avoid 'spoilers' on the British media web. Throughout the series, I couldn't help thinking about the parallel lessons that could be drawn from the programme...
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June 7, 2008

Euro 2008: The websites - Switzerland & the Czech Republic

After years of organisation and planning, Euro 2008 kicks off tonight in Switzerland. England, of course, after the debacle of their final qualifying match against Croatia, will not be there. The last time England failed to qualify for a Euro finals was in 1984. In a way, that might make for a more entertaining tournament for me to watch. I remember enjoying the World Cup in the USA in 1994 precisely because every goal didn't involve me instantly trying...
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June 6, 2008

Begging more questions than answers - the BBC Trust review: Search

I was hoping that Alfred Hermida was going to blog the whole of the recent BBC Trust review of so that I wouldn't have to read it, but sadly on the list Brian Butterworth piqued my interest with some choice quotes about search and external linking, so I had to succumb. What has intrigued me is that of the handful of recommendations that the Trust had made to BBC management, two of them seem somewhat contradictory. The Trust...
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May 26, 2008

Euro 2008 host cities on the web: Salzburg

If the random number generator employed by UEFA in their ticket ballots had been calibrated a bit differently, right now I would be in the last stages of planning my trip back to Salzburg in Austria to see some matches at Euro 2008. I put my ticket application in before the final draw was known, and, as it turned out, I would have had tickets to see two matches featuring my adopted homeland of Greece. But it wasn't to...
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April 17, 2008

IA for tiny stuff: Exploring widgets and gadgets - Part 1

This is part 1 of a 4 part article - 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 We are all familiar with the basic history of how mankind developed the written word. Initially, to keep any message preserved, or available to be read by a large audience, you basically had to bang it into the side of some rock. This wasn't a very portable format, and it certainly didn't have RSS feeds. Over time humans improved their written communication,...
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April 8, 2008

Newspaper "Site Search Smackdown": Round 1 - The Daily Mail vs The Sun

The other week I wrote about the potential threat to newspaper revenue from Google's new 'Search in search' feature. Links to the article appeared on a few blogs, and Kevin Anderson made the point that Google was doing search better than most newspapers: "Where I might disagree is Martin's argument that it negatively impacts user experience. He says that Google's position is that they can provide search better than the news sites. Well, the sad truth is that whether...
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March 28, 2008

'RSS Feeds: Managing the Mechanism' article for FUMSI

I've contributed an article about managing your consumption of RSS feeds to the Manage area of the FUMSI site - 'RSS Feeds: Managing the Mechanism'. If you get the FreePint newsletter you may have already seen the promotional blurb for the article. "Martin Belam explains the ins and outs of RSS -- not the technology or mechanics of it, but the nitty-gritty of managing yet another information stream on a desktop already close to bursting with resources. He provides practical...
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March 16, 2008

Postcard from Macau #1: Selling adverts in the Chinese 'free' press

I recently spent three weeks visiting Macau, the former Portuguese territory on the south coast of China. As a former colony like Hong Kong, it is now a 'Special Administrative Region'. This post is one of a series looking at aspects of information design, user experience, internet use and journalism that interested me when I was there. One of the English language newspapers available in Macau is the South China Morning Post. The first weekend I was in the...
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February 20, 2008

Making the most of blog comments: Part 1 - Promoting blog comments

One of the great strengths often cited about the blogosphere is the fact that it is a 'conversation', and the ability to leave comments on individual posts has long been an integral part of that. However, it isn't always clear how to get the most out of the comments left on a site. With blogging, a lot of the emphasis is on the continual update, the perpetual breathless rush to publish something new. That doesn't leave much space for...
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January 8, 2008

24/7 TV news websites: Part 1 - Introduction

There has been a massive shift in the distribution methods of the media in the last twenty-five years. First of all cable and satellite delivery of television, coupled with deregulation, vastly increased the amount of spectrum available, allowing commercial news networks to flourish. At the same time, the advent of the Internet allowed small and local operations to have a global presence. During much of this period, the word 'convergence' was on a lot of people's lips. The gadgets of...
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December 22, 2007

Ten years of BBC Online

This week the BBC's Internet Blog published the last of ten articles they commissioned from me about 10 years of the BBC's website. I was to delighted to see they emerged relatively unscathed from being sub-edited - in fact in a couple of cases either Alan or Nick supplied names or details where I'd written 'somebody', and added better pictures. The ten articles were: A brief history of time (travel) Developing search at the BBC: Part 1 - Part 2...
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December 11, 2007

Blogging at the BBC: Part 1 - My introduction to blogging

6 or so weeks ago the BBC finally launched a website equivalent of the news editors blog, called the BBC Internet blog.[1] It was long overdue, and an idea that had been kicked around internally at the BBC for some time. I'm fairly certain that lurking around the folder on my laptop called 'Old BBC documents' I've got at least one, if not two, product pitches for just such a thing, or at least something pretty similar at any...
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November 6, 2007

How accessible are Britain's online newspapers? Part 1 - Daily Express

The 1995 Disability Discrimination Act put the force of law behind the principle that businesses should not discriminate against people with disabilities in the provision of their goods and services. Although yet to be tested by major case law in the UK, it is generally accepted that 'services' includes a business web site, and that therefore businesses should take care to make sure that their sites are as accessible as possible. In theory, this is trivial to accomplish. All that...
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September 20, 2007

The London freesheets and the web - Part 1: Music reviews

I'm back in London again at the moment, and gaps in visiting your home town can make the differences seem all the greater. On my previous visit, in July of this year, it was the first time that I had been commuting regularly since December 2005. And that was before what I now believe was generally known as "The Great London Freesheet War" started. On my last trip I simply couldn't believe quite how much free press was literally being...
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August 13, 2007

Reckless Records RIP - Part 1: An End Has A Start

(or "Everything I know about second-hand record retail I learnt by being rude to customers at Reckless Records" by someone a bit like that bloke in 'High Fidelity') I found out, only via a brief mention in an article in the Guardian - "The Vinyl Frontier" by Adam Webb - that my old record shop Reckless Records had gone out of business in London. A quick check of the Reckless website, which back in the late nineties I used to...
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July 23, 2007

A tour of Tour De France news sites - Étape 1:

This week I'm looking at the usability, depth and quality of news coverage of the Tour De France on the internet. The obvious place to start my tour of Tour De France website coverage, is with the official site of the race itself - The site comes in four languages (English, German and Spanish as well as the obvious) During the course of a stage, the homepage turns into one giant web dashboard of stats, facts, figures and news....
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July 2, 2007

Why my Doctor Who blog failed: Part 1 - The Greatest Show In The Galaxy

Back in December 2006 David Jennings posted a thoughtful piece about his "69 Love Songs" wiki. In it, he stated what he thought had gone wrong with it, and what had stopped it from being being a success. "Two years ago I created a wiki site about 69 Love Songs, my favourite album. I had in mind an evolving resource where people would add new perspectives on each song, so that it would grow in time to become a...
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May 8, 2007

Newspapers 2.0: How Web 2.0 are British newspaper web sites?

Over the last two weeks I've reviewed eight British newspaper web sites in depth, trying to identify where and how they are using the technologies that make up the so-called "Web 2.0" bubble. I've examined their use of blogs, RSS feeds, social bookmarking widgets, and the integration of user-generated content into their sites. I've reviewed the Daily Express, Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, Guardian, Independent, The Sun, The Telegraph and The Times. On the whole I have found that most newspapers...
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March 14, 2007

My 'biased' view of the Biased BBC blog

  Download a print version of this article I'm sure that I qualify genetically as a Beeboid, and so view the site through a prism of my own telly-tax funded bias, but I enjoy reading the Biased BBC blog. And I do mean enjoy. I always used to keep it in my subscribed RSS feeds when I worked at the BBC, and still dip into it from time to time in Austria. And there are a few reasons why I still...
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October 9, 2006

Smarter searching: liberating information from the Internet

  Download a print version of this article This post is part of a series entitled "Smarter searching: liberating information from the Internet", based on my presentation at the 2006 AUKML Conference in Edinburgh Introduction Once upon a time, when the public were searching for information, they would have to carry themselves off to a public library and ask the nice librarian behind the desk to help them look. They'd pull out some typed index cards, and eventually the library user...
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June 16, 2006

Building my homepage

During April and May 2006 the BBC ran a competition to redesign their web homepage, called Accompanying the competition was a blog, which I was a guest contributor to. My main series of posts on the blog described the way I developed a theoretical entry into the competition, and compared it with how the BBC's New Media department develops new products and services. Here on currybetdotnet, rather than duplicating the whole thing, I have gathered together links to...
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February 22, 2006

Designing your website to be search engine friendly - part 1

This is page 1 of a 5 page article - 1 2 3 4 5   Download a print version of this article Introduction This article is based on Martin Belam's presentation at the Ark Group's "Search Engine Optimisation" conference in London, October 2004. Design on the web has changed a lot since the mid 1990s. Not only has the language used to create pages expanded, but so has the capability of browsers, and the availability of bandwidth. Consequently pages...
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January 1, 2006

Gaining Online Advantage: Building an effective web presence in a large organisation - part 1

This is page 1 of a 13 page article - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13   Download a print version of this article Introduction This article is based on Martin Belam's presentation "Understanding The Portal Concept Within A Federated Organisation" at the Ark Group's Gaining Online Advantage conference in London, October 2005 The BBC, like many companies, first had a public internet presence in the mid-nineties. John Birt is not generally remembered...
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December 8, 2005

Managing 'Glue' at the BBC: Introducing the BBC - part 1

This is page 1 of a 5 page article - 1 2 3 4 5   Download a print version of this article This article is based on a transcript of a presentation by Martin Belam at IBERSID 2005 in Zaragoza. Introducing the BBC I wanted to start by giving a bit of context about the BBC. Everyone in the UK who owns a television has to pay a TV Licence every year, of around €180, and all of that...
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October 22, 2005

The software used to access the BBC homepage

This is page 1 of a 6 page article - 1 2 3 4 5 6   Download a print version of this article Studying the software that visits the BBC homepage It started with a casual enquiry from a colleague - "I wonder how many Firefox users visit the BBC homepage?" - and before I knew it I was involved in a lengthy statistical analysis of the browsers and operating systems that request the BBC homepage at Our...
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July 24, 2005

Putting a F__k Off Dalek on the BBC Homepage isn't big or clever - part 1

This is part 1 of a 4 part article - 1 2 3 4   Download a print version of this article Introduction If you've never worked in the BBC's New Media department it is difficult to know what a "Development Producer" does. In effect we are the 'Babel Fish' of the department. In one ear we receive the editorial aspiration that "Wouldn't it be great if we could do some coverage of Glastonbury on the homepage with the news...
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December 3, 2004

Fine Tuning Your Enterprise Search - part 1

This is part 1 of a 5 part article - 1 2 3 4 5   Download a print version of this article Introduction It is increasingly recognised in the modern enterprise that getting the processes of searching for and retrieving information right in a business can deliver a vital competitive edge. In a knowledge based economy employees who can't find vital internal information about their jobs are less productive, and with the advent of the web, potential customers who...
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May 6, 2003

How search can help you understand your audience - part 1

This is part 1 of a 4 part article: 1 2 3 4   Download a print version of this article How search can help you understand your audience In my article "A Day In The Life Of BBCi Search" I studied the behaviour of users of search on the BBC's website. Subsequently I have been giving a series of presentations on how we can use this information within the BBC to feed into our design processes, our content creation,...
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March 27, 2003

A day in the life of BBCi Search - part 1

This is part 1 of an 8 part article - Start at the beginning 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 - Download a PDF version of the entire series A day in the life of BBCi Search - Introduction Since BBCi launched in November 2001, the improved search offering has been collecting data on the way that BBC website users search both the BBC's website, and through the homepage Websearch, the whole wide web. Given such a mass...
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