Some good thinking Wednesday January 17, 2007, 0 comments

I just found a list of design principles that the BBC has adopted to help guide the development of web properties. The list represents some very good thinking, and is presented in its entirety below (as per item 13):


The BBC’s Fifteen Web Principles


We developed these as part of the BBC2.0 project. I’ve been meaning to publish them for a while since they were signed off by the BBC board. They’re perpetually draft.

  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. (nicked from Google)
  2. The very best websites do one thing really, really well: do less, but execute perfectly. (again, nicked from Google, with a tip of the hat to Jason Fried)
  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.



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A Rain of Frogs is written, designed and built by Adrian Lebar, a twenty(!) year veteran of web design and development. He is currently managing web and mobile development teams at Canada’s largest and most beloved classifieds site, Kijiji!

He is a father, sailor, snowboarder, skier, cyclist, writer, artist, graphic designer, classically trained musician and afraid of heights.

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A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. The inverse proposition also appears to be true: A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be made to work.”
- John Gall

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