Credit: By Anssi Koskinen on Fotopedia. Some rights reserved.

The UK general election in May was a surprise for many – while pollsters during the campaign pointed towards a hung parliament, the exit polls showed a different picture altogether – a Conservative majority which materialised on 8 May.

As the election results came through, so did the resignations of three party leaders. This "stuff of high drama" meant the event was a "record digital election" for the BBC, said Steve Herrmann, editor at BBC News Online, speaking at the News Impact Summit in London today.

Today, almost one month after the election, Herrmann highlighted some of the lessons the BBC has learned after analysing data from their election coverage.

Digital, TV or social election?

He said the BBC recorded 278 million pageviews on BBC News Online on results day 2015, compared to 146 million in 2010.

steve hermann
Traffic to BBC News Online was significantly higher in this year's election than previous

On top of this figure comes the fact that 85 per cent of those who accessed BBC coverage between 6am and 7am on results day did so from a mobile device.

The BBC "put a lot of effort in designing it for mobile... and thought about the formats of mobile", he explained.

But was this a digital and social election, as many predicted? Or did the TV debate still reign supreme? Herrman said there's "no denying the broadcaster events" and their power of "bringing the nation together".

But he pointed out that the "discussion and unpicking of [the debate] on social media" added a different dimension.

The late spikes in traffic

The data also showed which stories generated more interest and at what times - and it points to the importance of the last week of campaigning and even election day itself, as people try to make up their minds and gather as much information as possible.

There was "massive interest in local news and local results on the day after", said Herrmann, as people woke up and went to the local results page to see what has happened in their constituency first.

The graph below shows the spike in interest in results by constituency at 6am and the following, most popular types of election coverage.

"Sometimes we don't talk enough about that", he said.

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