BBC iPlayer & Red Button

Research, Visual & Interaction Design


The BBC’s Smart Television content is spread across two main web-apps: iPlayer and Red Button+, both of which let users access on-demand TV programmes from the last couple of weeks. Red Button+ acts as a bridge to iPlayer, but also allows audiences to view live sports coverage, lottery information, travel, weather and breaking news stories. This is all overlaid on top of a live TV broadcast, allowing users to multitask.

During my time at the BBC, I worked in the TV Platform team, improving both apps with new features and usability iterations. Specifically I worked on a new Live restart feature, travel pages for Red Button and voice activated iPlayer for Xbox One. When necessary, I contributed new reusable components back to the TV platforms pattern library.


Within our team we used sketching on ‘war boards’ to communicate early ideas between key stakeholders and ourselves. This allowed us to quickly discuss potential routes to further explore in higher fidelity.

Developer Guidelines

As a member of the TV platforms working group, I collaborated across both apps to help define a set of patterns which felt familiar and consistent to our users. Each of us took various components and meticulously marked them for the developers to use as schematics when building them.

Contributing to GEL

I was then responsible for delivering these guidelines to the wider design team, contributing to the BBC’s Global Experience Language site. My role was to help facilitate the transition of future designers moving into the TV team, empowering them with the knowledge of the platform and it’s unique quirks.

Prototyping for iPlayer

I prototyped and usability tested the next iteration of iPlayer on Xbox One; exploring voice commands and the terminology that would feel most natural to users. My aim was for participants to feel as immersed as possible, so I introduced realistic animations and had a colleague trigger the various interactions when key phrases were spoken out loud.

Using the findings from this research to iterate the prototype, it was later used by Development to build the new voice command feature that is currently live in the Xbox app.

Live Restart on Red Button+

With up to 4 million users during high profile sporting broadcasts, the Red Button Product Owner wanted me to explore a live restart feature that would allow users to restart a live programme to it’s beginning. I lead the design of this new component which I prototyped up and tested in our lab.

This was a feature that previously existed in iPlayer so we had some elements to work from. However, one of the key selling points of Red Button is that the current broadcast is visible in the background; we were conscious not to cover too much screen real estate. Accordingly, we artworked up new components, whilst trying to make the new feature feel consistent across both products.

Travel on Red Button+

After joining the TV team, the MVP for Red button+ had already been released. However, certain categories were completely missing, meaning that there wasn’t parity with the legacy service. I created new patterns for a travel section which were tested with 10 participants, iterated and fed back into the GEL pattern library.

Personalisation Concept

A lot of what i worked on in the TV platforms team was taken from a road-map created by product owners. However, i also worked on some self-initiated projects which i then presented back to stakeholders to act as a discussion point for how we might innovate and move the product forward.

One such piece was an exploration of personalisation across the TV apps. Inspired by the work that was taking place in the content discovery team, which i was also part of, I explored a new main navigation bar which could house personal notifications. Users would be able to favourite content across the BBC’s suite of apps, then notifications would be pushed to users in a timely manner.