Revisiting the BBC’s Fifteen Web Principles

Back in 2007 I arranged for Tom Loosemore to give the closing keynote at the JISC conference.   At the time Tom was Project Director for BBC2.0 and it was a classic case of inviting someone because I wanted to hear what they had to say 🙂 In my opinion it was a great talk (and while there was a bit of grumbling from those who would have preferred *another* edtech talk it scored pretty well on the feedback forms so it all worked out ok!)

Tom structured his talk around the BBC’s Fifteen Web Principles and I took alot from those slides (including the list of ‘principles’ bluetacked on the wall by my desk for a couple of years). In the last couple of days I have seen them mentioned and/or linked to a couple of times again so I decided to revist them myself and see how helpful they were four and a bit years later especially as I am currently writing a digital strategy.

Turns out they are still pretty spot on. Mention of ‘Second Life’ dates them a bit (remember when that was the ‘future’..) but I actually agree with all of them as general principles still but have cut it down to 10 for my wall this time.

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

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

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

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

8. 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.

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

10. 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

To one extent or another I think my proto-strategy addresses all of these to one extent or another but I am going to spend a little time sense-checking my current ideas against them as soon as I can.

As it turns out Tom Loosemore is now ‘Deputy Director, Single Government Website at the Cabinet Office’ which basically means he is running the Alpha/Betagov project which has the potential to influence my working life more than anything in the last few years.

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