As Project Merlin and the PBS.org redesign ramp up, the Producer Exchange blog will feature regular updates. For more information, visit the Merlin/PBS Redesign resource page .

What is the PBS global header?

The new PBS.org global header will replace the current global header. The key addition to the new global header is an integrated search box that will allow users to search the current site or all of PBS.org. The site-specific search function will lead into whatever search solution is currently being utilized by the producer site. The PBS.org global search function will use a PBS.org search tool. Producers should be aware that the new global header includes links to the new PBS topic pages, PBS Video Portal, the updated Programs page, as well as the new search box. 

Are the designs final? What ability will producers have to customize the header?

PBS has a working design that includes four different color palette options for producers to use on their sites.  Producers will be able to choose the header palette that best matches their own site.

What kind of user testing has PBS done with the global header?

PBS has twice conducted user testing involving the new global header. Last summer, PBS conducted two full days of user testing in Washington, D.C. and New York that covered the entire PBS.org redesign. Users tested localization and navigation on the global header during this session.

This week, PBS specifically tested the global header implementation on a producer site. The goal of this test was to understand if users understood the difference between the PBS header and the producer site header and to test the proposed UI for the global header search box.

We are currently reviewing the results and comments from the test sessions to see if additional changes are necessary before we release the final designs.

What do I need to know now in order to plan a site design that will launch after the global header is released?

While not finalized, we can share some general information to help producers plan for its arrival later this year.

  1. The new global header will be a flex width and span the length of the browser window. The current global header also operates in this way.
  2. The working version of the global header is 84 pixels high. While this design is not final, PBS will ensure that the final header will not be more than 90 pixels high.  For reference, the current global header is 30 pixels high, while the global header with leaderboard ad is 140 pixels high.
  3. The new global header will contain a site-specific search option in addition to the global PBS search, so it will not necessary to include a search box elsewhere within the producer site.
  4. The global header includes a navigation link to ShopPBS, however this link leads only to the ShopPBS homepage. Producers are still encouraged to build a “Buy The DVD” link into their own site navigation, with a site-specific ShopPBS link that can be provided by your program manager.

How will the PBS global header be implemented?

We are still investigating the most efficient and effective way to implement this new header. Due to the expanded search features, it is likely that producers will have to make some small code updates to replace the SSI include that is used with the current global header. As soon as we have information about the technology implementation solution finalized, we will share it with producers. We will also provide a testing window for producers to test their code.

What is the timeline for releasing and launching the new header?

We are still working on our implementation strategy, however we can give you our general thinking about the release schedule for Merlin and the PBS.org redesign elements. As a caveat, these timelines are general and could change.

The first release will be the Merlin CMS, which is currently nearing the end of the development phase. After the CMS is QA’d and tested internally, PBS will a brief beta testing window before making the product available to producers. PBS will be providing training sessions and documentation to producers prior to onboarding them into the CMS. Expect this process to begin shortly, with the CMS available early this Summer.

The second release will be the redesign PBS.org homepage and topic pages, which are expected to launch in late Summer. This date is more in flux, as the launch depends not only on the front-end development work for the PBS.org pages, but also the ingestion of a generous amount of content from the PBS.org system of local stations and national producers.

Following the launch of the redesigned PBS.org, we plan to focus on a phased implementation of the new producer site elements – the PBS global header, the new media bar and the new PBS global footer. The initial focus will be on implementing these elements on active series and upcoming program sites. While we don’t expect these new elements to go live on producer sites until after the new PBS.org pages launch, we do expect that testing and technical collaboration with producers will begin in advance of the PBS.org redesign launch. When specific dates are available, we will share them immediately.

Will there be a window to test the new header on my site prior to it launching?

Yes, PBS will work a testing window into the implementation plan for the global header to ensure that producers have time to test the code and prevent any problems. PBS will also provide a .PSD with the four header options when the designs are finalized.