Saturday, June 07, 2014

The new BBC Arts Website

The BBC have a lot to do to do to up their game in terms of content and accessibility of the new BBC Arts website. Its aim is to enable much better access to both BBC Arts Programmes, additional material and the archive of programmes held by the BBC.

BBC Monitor Henry Moore November 1960
First transmitted in 1960, Huw Wheldon visits Henry Moore at his home in the run-up to a major exhibition of his work at the Whitechapel Gallery in London.
One of the archive programmes on offer via the new BBC Arts website
It introduced it with this post and video - Welcome to BBC Arts.
Welcome to the new BBC Arts website, a space which draws together arts coverage and comment from across the BBC - television, radio and online - and aims to put the best of British art and culture at your fingertips.

We will showcase performance of all types.....Here you will be able to find live streams of performances and events or enjoy them on demand later.

The BBC launched the new site of 14th May. It gets:
  • 10 out of 10 for the idea - this is the new way to access television when access need not be governed by schedules
  • 5 out of 10 for effort - they've started and are up and running - in a way similar to getting the roof on and the windows in. The basic structure is there but there's a long way to go before it's delivering what it's promising
  • 3 out of 10 for functionality. That's because it doesn't work at all well at present and much is inaccessible or very difficult to find!  
You can
  • sign up for the latest news on arts programmes and events via the BBC Arts newsletter
  • Follow on Twitter for the latest updates from BBC Arts @bbcarts
  • Follow the RSS feed -
  • Check out the A-Z Archive of Arts Programmes on the BBC via the feed for Factual: Arts, Culture & the Media: Arts - although a lot of these are not yet available online (I'm thinking it would be a much better feed if they indicated when they might be available online!)
  • Find out what is actually available to view now:

Form has not followed function - and the design needs radical improvement

The focus is all on "the arts" and fails to recognise that people have specialised interests e.g. art, literature or music. There's no link or categorisation which allows ready access to your particular interest - and that needs addressing very fast as they begun to put more material online.

The main problem is the navigation of the site and what's available is absolutely tortuous - no matter what improvements the BBC might think they have made recently.  The fact of the matter is it's very difficult to join up all the dots and find your way around to what's on offer easily.  They really need to address this

Frankly I don't think they've given any thought at all to how the design will function as they begin to put more of the archive online and need to make content available with much less scrolling. The BBC needs to rediscover the importance of the link to take you fast through several layers of content!

[UPDATE: Plus one of the main problems is there is no access to their forward programming of arts programmes coming up - which is always useful for those who like to plan ahead.  Just try finding a link to tonight's BBC2 programme "The Summer Exhibition:  BBC Arts at the Royal Academy" - it's absolutely nowhere to be seen!)

(PS If you think it's easy just try starting from the main BBC page and finding all the links identified above!)


  1. Hello Katherine, I hope you've sent your comments to the BBC - they do ask what we think of the site, so I'd say they'd appreciate all conversations!
    Thanks for this post

  2. Actually I did!

    I also tried finding a Facebook Page for their Arts Programmes but apparently it's not worth having one.......

  3. Good for you!! I'd say it'd be worth your while contacting A Person at the Beeb, you're our Arts VIP after all (just in case you didn't know!) and could be a MOST useful source for them!

  4. People can also comment via the survey they are running.

    I've got to go and add another comment in as looking forward to future programmes is impossible!

    Try finding this one BEFORE it is has aired. BBC 2 19:00 "The Summer Exhibition: BBC Arts at the Royal Academy"

  5. I got all excited when I saw the title and then read your review. You are right it's nearly impossible to use. I will continue to rely on you to know which arts programmes are on. Thank you for providing a service the BBC still can't.

  6. I had a giggle over that - I shall to have a new strapline "bringing you what the BBC fails to provide"!


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