My first thought was that this was yet another redesign. Having watched Auntie as a bellwether of design for mass media (I’m talking about masses of information, high traffic etc) change seemed to come every couple of years so this came as no surprise. No actually it was a surprise, I thought what’s the reason for the shakeup this time?
And there, in the first glance, it became apparent – flat design. The dark gradients in the top bar had gone, the red was one tone, the subtle yet intricate aesthetics seemed to have disappeared and the BBC News website looked much like any other responsive design… With BBC News colours at the top of the page.
Flat. Simple. Kind of boring really. But when looking at the site on an iPhone5 or an iPad it made sense. BBC News had gone mobile friendly. This is very good news for current affairs consumers and even better news for the BBC itself because, as Google stated only a few weeks ago, Webmasters and website owners were given just 54 days to be mobile friendly or risk “significant impact” in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)
The Beeb have done this right yet again. They’re ahead of the curve and delivering a perfect solution. Sure, I think the site is a little more vanilla for the pursuit of usability and accessibility, but that’s what web people have a duty to do – cater for the needs of as wide an audience as possible.
And on that particular note, I run one popular website where our audience’ mobile device use is 25% – that’s a serious consideration when you risk alienating a quarter of your audience and your traffic because your offering does not conform to the “320 and up” design philosophy.
The real eye opener comes from the BBC itself when Robin Pembrooke, their head of product at BBC News & Weather says that a massive “…65% of our visitors are on mobile or tablet devices.”
So, come the 21st April, the BBC News website will have that “Mobile friendly” tag in the SERPS and I’m sure there will not be any “significant impact” on those results other than the Beeb retaining and increasing its place at the forefront of web technology, which, if you want to argue the point, is no mean feat for such high traffic volumes and an ever changing wealth of historical content. Big ships take longer to steer but the BBC seems to have some talented crew at the helm of their news & weather.