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THE BBC'S 15 WEB PRINCIPLES

Ever since I got involved with this Internet malarkey I have used the British Broabcasting Corporation's online efforts as an example of good practice. From domain name registration to content management, the BBC have got it right [OK, the purchase - and subsequent use - of BBC.com was, in retrospect, questionable]. I also make the point that it is the background of the BBC - providers of information - that makes them good online, that experience [and skills developed within it] transferred easily to the Internet. The techie aspect was the easy part [I make the same point with regard to most of what is good online, for example; the best online copy is written by folk who learned their trade before the Internet was an Information super-dirt-track - but that is a different argument for a different time]. In one of my chapters of Online Marketing - a customer led approach I present the BBC's 12 deadly sins of web site design as an excellent guide to web development.

More recently - OK, 2006 - the BBC's Director-General has delivered a paper on the future of the corporation [BBC 2.0: why on demand changes everything], specifically addressing the impact of 'new media' applications. Part of this BBC 2.0 project was the BBC's 15 web principles. They are:

  1. Build web products that meet audience needs: anticipate needs not yet fully articulated by audiences, then meet them with products that set new standards.

  2. The very best websites do one thing really, really well: do less, but execute perfectly.

  3. Do not attempt to do everything yourselves: link to other high-quality sites instead. Your users will thank you. Use other people's content and tools to enhance your site, and vice versa.

  4. Fall forward, fast: make many small bets, iterate wildly, back successes, kill failures, fast.

  5. Treat the entire web as a creative canvas: don't restrict your creativity to your own site.

  6. The web is a conversation. Join in: Adopt a relaxed, conversational tone. Admit your mistakes.

  7. Any website is only as good as its worst page: Ensure best practice editorial processes are adopted and adhered to.

  8. Make sure all your content can be linked to, forever.

  9. Remember your granny won't ever use 'Second Life': She may come online soon, with very different needs from early-adopters.

  10. Maximise routes to content: Develop as many aggregations of content about people, places, topics, channels, networks & time as possible. Optimise your site to rank high in Google.

  11. Consistent design and navigation needn't mean one-size-fits-all: Users should always know they're on one of your websites, even if they all look very different. Most importantly of all, they know they won't ever get lost.

  12. Accessibility is not an optional extra: Sites designed that way from the ground up work better for all users.


  13. Let people paste your content on the walls of their virtual homes: Encourage users to take nuggets of content away with them, with links back to your site.

  14. Link to discussions on the web, don't host them: Only host web-based discussions where there is a clear rationale.

  15. Personalisation should be unobtrusive, elegant and transparent: After all, it's your users' data. Best respect it.

Obviously, these are for an organization that has [something like] the dissemination of information as its online objective - but this list should be pinned up above all web designers' computers.

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