Breaking Development: Context, Multi-device & TV

by Luke Wroblewski April 8, 2013

In his presentation at Breaking Development in Orlando FL Rod Farmer outlined some of the challenges you're likely to encounter when making the transition to designing for TV. Here's my notes from his talk on Context, multi-device and the future of TV in the browser:

What is TV

  • Is TV defined by physical size of devices, the kind of content and its format, or the delivery/broadcast means? All of these are changing today.
  • TV show viewing is rapidly increasing as the time spent in front of traditional TV devices is decreasing.
  • We listen to the radio or a telescope but watch television. It is notoriously hard to define.
  • Our experience of TV is changing to become more social, inclusive, relatable, high quality, and more. All these things are happening today.
  • TV as a device is dead. TV as entertainment is very much alive.

Fragmented Experience

  • There are many players in the TV industry which creates a fragmented experience.
  • But people still demand more from television: they want more control, they want to participate more, and access TV content anywhere/everywhere.
  • The linear TV model is very simple -its all about ratings. If a user watches form more than 10 minutes, that's a rating, is ratings go up, advertisers come, and the business model flows.
  • 72% of Australians prefer to watch TV live with others vs. catching up on devices alone.
  • Key players with the biggest access to hardware, content libraries, and utility will dominate.
  • There's been a 200% increase in connected TV ownership in Australia.
  • Search is the primary way of navigating to TV shows and networks.
  • 60% of mobile TV viewing happens in the browser (more than native apps).
  • 40+% of people interact with social media while the TV is on. They want to talk to friends, interact with the show, and influence what they are watching.

Designing for TV

  • When designing for connected experiences, we need to consider that people's situation changes all the time.
  • A multi-context experience can adapt the content and interface based on location, network connection, and more.
  • Competitive analysis and user research helps you learn how people interact with different devices and environments. These activities can be mapped out in detail to determine capabilities, set goals, and layout interaction flows.

Multi-device Challenges

  • TV viewing experience is already multi-device.
  • Before devices comes content and services: what are you going to do and how does it help our business and customers? Define your channels only after you have these strategic considerations in place.
  • Service design is emerging as an important practice at the same time as multi-device development is growing. The two need each other.
  • Design mobile first: mostly because it negates almost all stupid desktop decisions. Example: mouse hovers, complex designs, mouse cursor interactions.
  • Mobile and tablet interactions need to be immersive. Stakeholders understand that can you can use this experience as a forcing function to improve interactions across all screens.