The British government refused to fund to the new television service using grant-in-aid.
Like I said, incredibly excited to have you both here, not least because the BBC has been experimenting with responsive design in public for quite some time, and you guys just launched this massive, beautiful responsive site.
Before we dive in, could both you guys introduce yourselves and tell us a little bit about what you do at the BBC? So, this is Niko here. I was one of the founding members of the responsive team back in We had the m-dot domain that we could basically play with.
So, we moved really, really quickly in the first few months. So, we were given quite a lot of freedom, in the first few years, to kind of—almost like a startup—to just get cracking.
So, we moved really, really quickly in the first few months; we basically used user agent sniffing to be able to redirect feature phones to our new responsive site that, at the time, was completely stripped-down, just the core elements-of-the-story pages, just literally a couple of lists of stories on our front page and other indexes.
It gave us a really good point to strip down all the fat that was on the desktop. But I think at the very, very beginning, it was very tech-driven from the developers and the tech lead at the time, and so we were able to move really, really quickly.
And just to kind of add on to that from my perspective: At the time, the technical stack was really old. We were using statically-published pipelines. And also the different platforms—instead of having a desktop and mobile output from our CMS, we stripped back the CMS to actually produce a really simplified data feed that could be applied to the responsive site or, say, the native apps as well.
We think we should be offering a familiar experience across all of the different devices, and people may want to be getting different things from BBC News at different times of the day.
Let me follow up on what is a popular subject that Ethan and I like to ask people about, which is the difference between mobile and desktop. So, in many organizations I think there are larger technical architecture, infrastructure constraints that have them publishing different things to mobile and desktop.
Can you talk about how those conversations happen at the BBC? I think the key is not to assume anything. But what we basically try and do is just obviously change the way the content looks to make it more adaptable and look better on a particular screen width, rather than just completely taking it out.
At the beginning we had separate teams. So, someone drew the short straw and had to look after the old desktop sites.
Let me follow up here and ask about a subject that I think the BBC has been really innovative and has displayed a really careful thought process around, which is: How did you plan your rollout strategy?
So, as you were experimenting with Responsive News in public, how did you plan which devices or which people were going to see which iterations at which point? And a particular question that I have is: How did you deal with the need for competing maintenance across these two completely different platforms before you rolled out responsive news overall?
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