New Web look for BBC Radio

BBC On-line is talking with Web design consultancies for the first time, with a view to redesigning the websites of the corporation’s national radio stations.

As part of an expansion of non-commercial on-line business, on-line managers of individual stations are understood to be reviewing their Web presence. Radio 1, Radio 2, Radio 3, Radio 4 and Radio 5 Live are included in the plans.

BBC On-line heads understand that a lot will rest on the success of the redesign of the Radio 1 website, www.bbc.co.uk/radio1. There are high expectations of the project due to its increasingly Web-literate youth audience.

Radio 1 has already invited a number of Web design consultancies to pitch for the complete redesign of its website, which it is planning to relaunch at the start of 2001. A number of interim design changes will be made to the existing site.

Among the confirmed consultancies contending for the project are Deepend London, Digit and the BBC’s own Web design team, which relaunched the existing site last September.

Radio 1 on-line manager Chris Kimber says the redesign will aim to exploit the “live” nature of the radio station via the Web, not to publish a magazine on-line. The website currently clocks up 1.5m page impressions each week. The aim is to increase this figure, says Kimber.

“In one way what we are trying to do is to be the ‘musiciest’ site on the Web. What is central to Radio 1 is its live content and we want to capitalise on the live potential of the Web,” he says.

Kimber says other music sites will flourish but with less of the live edge afforded by radio. Listeners can already tune into Radio 1 through the Internet and receive pictures of the studio from a Webcam.

For the redesign Kimber says the website’s homepage will reflect more closely the show being broadcast. The look and feel of the site could reflect the character of the DJ or show on air at any time, he says. A consultancy appointment is expected in the next two weeks.

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