National Geographic Channel Launches | Localtype

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National Geographic Channel Launches

Originally written on: April 16, 2008 at 7:45 pm

Last Updated: April 16, 2008 at 7:45 pm

[wdgpo_plusone]

After more than a year in development, we finally launched National Geographic Channel’s new website. Wow, what a ride. Originally, I wasn’t even on the team. I came on about a month later as “The Cleaner”, when the original Information Architect catastrophically failed.

The site is graphically intense, so people with slow connections will have a very difficult time. For those interested in some of the technology, most of it is done with CSS and Javascript so as to be SEO (search engine optimisation) “friendly”. The one major exception to this is the Flash-based TV schedule, which was designed specifically to not be picked up by search engines. It also operates similarly to the iPhone in that you can drag the schedule directly without using the little (clunky, IMHO) arrows. You can also filter the schedule, and it’ll highlight the relevant shows. The back-end integration was some seriously heavy lifting. So many special cases made it almost impossible to code, made even more difficult due to problems with IE and Safari 2 (which was the spec when the project initiated). There is a reason the W3C made standards. We code to them, but then we also have to code around the poor implementations on some browsers.

Going over the site, I can still see some areas of wonkiness like the “on tonight belt” on the homepage truncating the names of the shows, making it totally useless. Also, the graphic for a “show that has no custom graphic” is not obviously generic. These will be fixed in the next several days.

The homepage itself is an interesting story. National Geographic Channel (NGC) is actually semi-independent of National Geographic, and a partner with Fox (and if you see the programming, it’s obvious). However, online, National Geographic is the “umbrella” brand, forcing the NGC homepage to live inside the shell of NationalGeographic.com. This makes it non-obvious as to which navigation will take you inside the NGC site, and which will take you back to a NG site. Once you’re in NGC however, the shell goes away, and is replaced by the global NG “hat”, which is much less intrusive.

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