Nearly missed this, masked by the rollout of the awesome
catalogue, but alongside their dev-oriented
backstage offerings the
BBC now have a competition for redesigning their home page, they're
We don't just want you to redesign the bbc.co.uk homepage, we want you take it all the way back to the drawing boardâ¦ Â
Ok, I do personally think the biggest near-term improvements for the web involve making more data more available (Auntie's lingery catalogue, respect!). But the user interface is hugely important, and the immediate thing there is the home page in the browser. Given all the recent progress around Ajax, it's amazing how uninspired most of the design is out there. Yahoo! Tech is probably the leading edge here, but although they've included a lot of Web 2.0 niftiness, the overall cluttered feel is that of the glorious Web 1.0 homepage with animated gifs, background image (badly tiled) and plinky midi music. That's probably a bit harsh, the Yahoo! site is good, but I'm sure it could be so much better.Â
I realise I'm hardly leading by example here (heh), but as every day passes I'm increasingly amazed at how mind-numbingly dull blog design tends to be. The typical 2- or 3- column layout is a direct descendant of print media layouts. The sites that do look stunning tend to look stunning in exactly the way a creatively-designed magazine looks. With the improvements in bandwidth and P2P tech I'm sure we'll see increased mimicry of of tv/film visual design. But it's all so flat. By that I'm not suggesting everything goes visually 3D, but the information available at a given site can be viewed in lots of different ways, many slices or facets of the multi-dimensional data are potentially available.Â
Sure, the print media approaches evolved as fairly optimal uses of the printed page, and that can translate directly into the use of screen real estate. There's also the principal of minimal surprise. If the typical visitor encounters a familiar layout and nav setup, they do get benefits in usability. But I'm sure there's a whole lot that could be built on top of this, especially now there are things like good metadata like tag indexes and rich media available as site-local data sources, plenty of mashable remote data sources, and dynamic HTML and vector graphics available for presentation up front. The traditional blog view can just be the first facet the visitor encounters.
Example picked from the air: rather than having a sidebar full of gizmos, why not maximise the text-reading area for the 90% of visitors who come for that, and have a plain narrow vertical strip down the side labelled gizmos. When you mouse-over there, the whole viewing area does something like the Mac rotating cube thing, and switches desktop to the gizmo area.
With the growth of aggregators/newsreaders as an alternate user
interface container, there's even more opportunity to be creative.
Once microformats are more widespread, that will loosen the
data/content/presentation dependencies still further.Â
Whatever, I reckon the key part which the BBC have grokked, is that innovation sometimes means it is necessary to go back to the drawing board.Â@en