In Brief

The Future Media & Technology team is responsible for the online portfolio of the British Broadcasting Company, including their homepage, News, and Weather platforms. In 2011 they launched the fourth major version of their homepage: the first of a systemic roll-out of new and updated online services.

My Role

During the BBC's famous move to MediaCityUK in Salford, I joined the FM&T team as their sole UI developer. I was crucially involved in the ground-up, award-winning rebuild of the BBC homepage, as well as driving early discussion around their reusable responsive frameworks. Much of my work here remains in use today, reaching more than nine million users a week.

During 2011, the BBC launched the fourth major version of their homepage: the first stage and the bellwether in a systemic rollout of their new online identity, a new look and feel for their portfolio of online services, and a full modernisation of their online technologies.

Sitting in the top fifty most-visited websites in the world, the BBC homepage serves as the gateway through which over nine million weekly visitors access this new and updated portfolio of services. Over the following year the new homepage was joined by releases of all-new versions of their News, Sport, and Weather platforms, all built on the same foundations and technologies.

My experience with the BBC spans several years, over countless projects and mediums. I started in the development of their interactive educational games for the now-defunct BBC Jam (formerly the BBC Digital Curriculum) in 2006. In 2010, and for the following eighteen months, I joined their Future Media & Technology as the sole UI developer responsible for the execution and optimisation of the HTML, CSS and JavaScript used in their new platforms (homepage, News, Sports, and Weather).

At the time more than 15% of the website visitors were still using IE6, and a partnership between the BBC and Blackberry years earlier meant that there were tens of thousands of people accessing the page every day via the shortcut which had come pre-installed on the dashboard of their outdated, greyscale Blackberry mobile device. It is fair to say this presented a number of unique and complex challenges which are rarely faced outside websites of this scale.

Development involved total refactoring of the previous codebase, introduction of a new shareable responsive framework and touch-enhancement, and working interdepartmentally to ensure these were applied. Using HTML5, CSS and Glow (before transitioning back to vanilla JavaScript), the new platform sat on top of various standalone PHP modules, themselves fed by a Java backend. The sites also had to adhere to stringent guidelines and accessibility requirements, as well as be considerate of the audience's needs and preferences.

This work went on be nominated – and win – the Design Museum Designs of the Year Digital Award 2012. The platforms continue to adapt, respond and grow as a gateway to the rest of the BBC's online services.

Since then I have been asked to develop and optimise several show-specific and commercial BBC Worldwide microsites, and maintain a close relationship with the Corporation.