Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Relauching a website – the Doctor Who case study

The recent relaunch of the BBC Doctor Who website is an interesting one for many reasons.

The BBC team in Wales was aware that the entire franchise was going through something of a regeneration. The new Doctor, his companion and the creative team on the show meant that changes to the tone of the brand were coming that had to be reflected in the website.

BBC’s brief was a simple: 'make the site the no.1 destination to experience the world of Doctor Who, past, present and future'. In web design terms, this translated into extending the reality of a show with such rich subject matter.

The website was then built in a way that became a platform to distribute originated content associated with Doctor Who. The goal was to ensure that Doctor Who would be more than the Saturday night TV program. It transformed into a 24/7 experience of which the online element is a key component.

From a technology point of view, the team utilized the new BBC Platform. The use of this new platform opened up a new suite of development tools. It enhanced the speed of the site and it allows for producing more dynamic and customizable content.

The new Global Visual Language enables to (literally) think big with designs, using the metaphors of time and depth within the site.

Together with R&D , the web design team realized a powerful way of engaging with narratives online, which helps to explore how to tell stories that don't fit into single Doctor Who episodes.

For content, the BBC accrued feedback from its audience from its 'red site'.
Feedback included:
  • The audience loves monsters. For this reason, a brand new section in the site for viewers to explore and learn more about them. Iconic foes like Daleks and Cybermen have had repeated encounters with the Doctor which is reflected within the sites designs.
  • The Doctor Who site is the destination for Doctor Who fans and the news section is important for two reasons: to deliver level production news (which is a key request from users) and to break important Doctor Who news stories.
  • The Fun & Games section of the site has a major priority; it's also extremely popular with the younger audience. A brand new look and feel was introduced to this section to keep it visually engaging and entertaining. The BBC is also working on the development of its own Adventure Games.
  • Past series are unlocked from archives and content is migrated to the new site.

    The first phase is completed and the new site is available online now.

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