To Tweak, Or Not To Tweak

Posted on 13 November 2004 in BBC red button, Interactive TV (No comments)

Here's an interesting problem. You have a 30 year old concept. It's established and everyone knows what it is, and how its used.

So when you want to re-use said 30 year old concept, you have an interesting choice. Do you keep it the same, or mess and tinker and hope you've improved it, and not got it horribly wrong?

That was the situation with page numbers. Guess what we did? That's right. We tinkered. Did we get it wrong? Well that's for you to decide. But I think it works. And this is why.

Close up of the page number box on BBCi

There's two things in that screengrab that I just love. First one is the big obvious one - the black bar shows where you're going to. So simple, so easy, so funky! Type in a correct page number, and it will let you know where you're going! If, like me, you regularly type in the wrong number then get dumped somewhere you didn't want to go to, it's quite useful.

Of course it would be less useful if it wasn't for that second addition - and this one's less obvious. I'll give you a hint. 'Press SELECT'. You now have to confirm what you've entered by hitting the SELECT button on your remote. I suspect this might be controversial for some people but again, if you're like me and constantly enter in the wrong number, or press the wrong thing, it's really useful and hopefully it won't take long for most people to get used to it.

You might also note the little arrows - this is a little feature that's not particularly innovative but good to have. On many modern televisions when you load up Ceefax, you can change the page number by pressing the channel up and down buttons. We can't use those buttons, but we had the left and right arrow buttons to use instead. Why not put them to some use? So pressing left and right will jump you though the main numbers in the service.

The new BBCi index

The other quite cool thing we did is on page 199 - it's the all new, singing and dancing index. Basically you press up and down to go through the main categories on the left, and the right column changes. You can then either enter the appropriate page number, or press the right button to jump to the right column, then scroll up and down to pick what you want.

Okay, it's not really an index in one respect - it's not in alphabetical order! But hey we're not as bad as Sky Text who call their equivalent page an 'A-Z'. Funnily enough, there's absolutely nothing alphabetical about it at all!

Personally I think it was right to tweak it as we did. But then I would say that wouldn't I?

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