Why have you changed the site? What was wrong with the old one?
The old Radio Times website was one of the first TV listing sites and originally launched back in 1997. It was refreshed about six years ago but was still built on some quite dated technology, and it took a lot of effort for our web editors to keep the site up to date. It was also firmly based on broadcast listings and didn’t allow us to easily recommend on-demand programmes available in places like BBC iPlayer – something our users now expect of us.
The platform itself was built in such a way that made it hard for us to produce things like mobile apps quickly and integrate with Smart TVs – something we know will become increasingly important but hadn’t been considered all those years ago.
Since RadioTimes.com is funded by advertising revenue we also needed to give the site a facelift to make it more effective for our advertisers and allow us to continue to invest in and improve the service.
For all these reasons we decided that maintaining the current site wasn’t an option and that we needed to rebuild it from the ground up. The new site is the first step on the road to the new digital Radio Times.
We recognise that many of our users feel comfortable with the old site and that changing a tool you use regularly is disruptive but we believe that ultimately these changes will make Radio Times the most useful and trusted guide to TV, film and radio around.
Can I still use the old site?
We’ve made the old RadioTimes.com available alongside the new version for the next few weeks while we continue to improve it and make changes based on your feedback. We’ll only be adding recommendations, news, features etc to the new site from now on, but you’ll be able to continue using the listings and the Your Programmes feature until we eventually retire them in the autumn.
Why didn’t you making the new site available straight away?
We want to make the old site again as soon as we can but due to its age it’s slightly harder to move to its new home on old.radiotimes.com than it should be. We didn’t want to risk breaking the site before we make the new site the default option, just in case.
Why have you moved the recommendations and advertising into the middle of the listings grid?
When we were redesigning the grid we decided that it was important to see the listings for the most watched channels without having to scroll down the page. It’s something many of our users have told us they would like.
This meant that we had to find somewhere else to include the square advert (called an MPU). Because we fund the site from advertising rather than charging for it, we need to accommodate an MPU on the page, reasonably near the top.
We felt there was a natural break after the first five channels and that including recommendations for tonight’s TV alongside the MPU was a good compromise. We’ll be introducing the ability to order the channels as you would like, so you’ll be able to choose the channels you see in the first five slots.
What do the “Follow” button and watchlist do?
Pressing “Follow” on a programme or film will mean that your watchlist shows you whenever it is broadcast on TV or radio and where it is available on demand. Your watchlist can be filtered to show just new episodes of a programme or both new episodes and repeats.
What’s happened to the Your Programmes feature?
Your Programmes has been replaced by the new watchlist. The watchlist is an improvement on the older functionality as it allows you to track any programme or film you like – not just ones that are currently broadcasting – and it also shows you where you can find them on demand.
You can also use the watchlist without signing in if you like, although we recommend you do so to make sure that it isn’t lost and to enable you to see it on different computers.
Unfortunately, because the watchlist works differently, it was very difficult for us to migrate programmes you have added to Your Programmes – but we’ve made it very easy to “follow” programmes on the new site.
We’ll be adding more features to the watchlist over the coming weeks. We’ll soon give you the option to follow your favourite people – actors, directors, writers – and see next time they are on TV, or where you can find them on demand.
Where is the list view?
Our stats for the old site show us that only a small number of people use the list view, with most preferring the default grid view, and so this is where we have focused our attention. However, we will reintroduce the list view if we think there is demand for it and we find people are continuing to use it on the old site.
Why do you no longer offer the pop-up option in the listings?
Most websites are moving away from the use of pop-up windows as they aren’t very search-engine-friendly and also don’t work well with new web browsers on tablets, phones and so on. Research also shows that users are often more comfortable with using the back button rather than having multiple pop-up windows.
Can I reorder my channels?
Not yet, but this is high on our list of things to do.
Where have the VideoPlus+ numbers gone?
VideoPlus+ charges us to include its numbers. Our research shows that not many of our users use them any more so we’ve decided not to renew our licence. If we discover there is a bigger demand than we had anticipated, then we may look at reintroducing them.
Can I use my old log-in?
Yes, simply enter the email address that you registered with and your existing password. We’ll also give you the option to provide some additional details and to customise your channels the first time you sign in.
Why do I need to sign in with my email address and not my old username?
We’re asking users to sign in with their email address now as people generally find it easier to remember their email address rather than having to remember yet another username. It also means that we know that the email address is still active, allowing us to get in touch if there is ever a problem with your account.
We’re sending emails to all of our existing registered users to remind them. If you’ve forgotten your email address, then you may need to create a new account.
Why are you asking for more details when I sign in?
We request details of your TV package to make sure we only show you programmes airing on the channels that you receive. And we ask for your sex, age and favourite genres just to give us a little more to go on when making personalised recommendations to you. We use this as intelligently as possible and in combination with other information (and won’t just show you Top Gear because you’re a boy…).
We may also use this information to make sure that the advertising we display is relevant and therefore less likely to annoy you. We promise we won’t share this info with anyone else.
Why are you offering Facebook and Twitter sign-in?
To make signing in as easy as possible, we’re offering the option to use your Facebook or Twitter log-in instead of creating an account with Radio Times if you prefer.
When you sign in with either of these, you’ll be presented with a standard page that is provided by either Facebook or Twitter asking for permission to use your account. We promise that we won’t post anything on your behalf or use your account for something that we don’t ask your permission for first.
We’ll also be looking at offering other sign-in options such as Google.
What web browsers will give me the best experience?
We’ve tested RadioTimes.com on all the browsers that we know our users commonly use. This covers 99% of our users.
– Internet Explorer 7,8 and 9
– FireFox 3.6, 4, 5 and 6
– Safari 5 and 6
– Chrome 13 and 14
We do not test in Internet Explorer 6, Opera or older versions of Firefox, Safari or Chrome. The site should work and “degrade gracefully” but we do not guarantee it. We recommend you upgrade your web browser to get the best experience of Radio Times.
We’re also working on a mobile-optimised version of the site.
What are you doing to make the site accessible to users with visual impairments?
The site has been built with accessibility in mind, however we’re currently doing a full accessibility audit using an external specialist and making improvements based on the findings.
This includes adjusting the contrast of some of the colours, ensuring all images have alt tags and looking at the semantic mark up of pages.
We’ll be reintroducing the list view in the next month or so. In the meantime please continue to use the existing list view at http://old.radiotimes.com
We expect to complete all of the recommended work before we decommission the old site.
Why do programmes that aren’t showing on my watchlist appear?
At the moment, the watchlist shows all upcoming broadcasts of a particular programme. We’re working on giving you the option to filter this so that it will only show you broadcasts related to you channel preferences. We hope these improvement will appearing the next month or so.
Why aren’t all the local and national radio stations available?
We’ll adding the option to add and remove radio stations and select your preferred region soon. This will work in a similar way to TV.
In the meantime, the listings for these stations are still available on the old site.
Why can’t I select multiple regions?
The site at the moment only allows you to select one region. We’re looking at allowing more than one to be selected as we realise that this is important to some of you, particularly viewers in Scotland.
Where are the competitions?
The competitions section will be making a return but is still in development.
Will you be providing links to things like iTunes, SeeSaw, Blinkbox and MSN Player?
Yes, the aim is to show you where you can find your favourite programmes wherever they are available on demand. Links to these services will be appearing over the next few weeks.
Why have you picked the page width you have?
We’ve had comments from users asking for the page to be both wider and narrower. We’ve chosen the current width as we believe it provides the best experience for most people.
We support all but the smallest screen resolutions. Like most modern websites, we’ve stopped supporting 800×600 resolution as we know only 0.4% of our users still use this. It’s also possible to increase the text size so for users who require bigger text, we recommend this approach rather than a small screen resolution.
We think that providing a consistent fixed size of page is aesthetically the best approach and most appropriate for pages where you read text. It also allows us to include advertising on the background of the page in a less intrusive manner. Instead of providing additional hours, we’ve made the listings grid navigate as quickly as possible without page refreshes. However, we are exploring options to provide a view with more hours for users with large screen resolutions.
Will you be creating a mobile version?
Yes. We’ll be introducing a mobile-optimised version of the website over the next few weeks and will also be creating a new iPhone app, which will appear this autumn. We also have plans for an Android app.
How do I enter Word Finder?
We now only accept entries to Word Finder via email. Full details are in the magazine. The email address for this week’s entry is firstname.lastname@example.org . The number will change each week, so next week’s will be email@example.com and so on…