Redefining The User Experience In The Connected TV Era

On TV And Video” is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in advanced TV and video.

Today’s column is written by Tal Chalozin, co-founder and chief technology officer at Innovid.

Fifty-six percent of the US population uses connected TV devices, and with this number growing rapidly, it has never been more important for the television industry to get the user experience right.

In our current Netflix world, we have seemingly endless content choices and ways to watch them. As Netflix continues to explode with more subscribers and content, more people are spending time consuming the content they love on their own terms.

What has been the secret to Netflix’s success? I’d argue that Netflix hasn’t reinvented television because the core element of watching television didn’t change. When you tune into a show, it’s exactly the same on Netflix as it appears on linear, whether it’s scripted television, a drama or a movie.

Netflix, however, has improved the user experience and the elements that surround the act of viewing. This includes discovery, access across devices, streaming, binge watching and more. Netflix brings user experience to prime time, helping to advance user expectations and puts pressure on the traditional television and advertising industries and other content providers to follow suit quickly.

With the training we all received from leading television user-experience designers, the bar has been raised for what we expect TV to look and feel like. The same applies to any time we create a two-way-communication with a viewer, whether that’s navigating the user interface, looking for content to watch or inspiring viewers to engage with a branded message or interactive ad.

Given that most of us consume content across an average of three devices, those who create seamless, simple experiences across devices, including the TV, are poised to win.

Several considerations need to be taken into account to create more consistency and simplicity across the television experience.

Like any rule of design, simplicity is key, but that rule is even more important when designing navigation, for example, for a screen that’s 10 feet away. It’s important to consider that multiple people may watch at the same time and that navigation is driven by a remote, which in most cases is a D-pad control (up/down/left/right) versus a free-form mouse or touchscreen.

Viewer engagement rises when the screen presents a single option, such as prompts to watch content, interact, download, play a game or buy a ticket versus a website or mobile app where multiple options are presented simultaneously.

Not all colors should be treated equally. As it relates to user experience across screens and devices, every color across the spectrum should be carefully considered. Black, for instance, is displayed differently on every television, while red is a color that historically does not look good on TV. Colors that are ideal for each screen or device should be used.

The content should be built based on device specifications. Television screens behave differently than a mobile or laptop screen, which affects how content should be displayed, specifically around the edges. Content should be designed with borders or “safe zones” and adhere to pixel specifications to ensure a consistent look and feel, regardless of the device, to create the best user experiences.

And finally, we should all take a page from remarkable user experience innovation introduced by the touchscreen, and iOS specifically, by aspiring for all controls to be as native as possible to avoid a steep learning curve. Consistency is a key factor, so every time a button indicator appears it should be the right one for the current device and leverage specific device design patterns, such as a swipe for Apple TV or a back button for Roku.

Television is much more than hardware that plays content – it’s now an interactive experience. Today’s viewers want extremely personalized and relevant content beamed to them through their screens and experiences that make their lives easier and more efficient.

Creating simple, seamless and consistent user experiences will be critical to driving higher engagement and a more captive audience. Now is the time to create an interactive user experience that meets modern expectations and needs across all screens. It’s a big hill to climb, but it’s paramount to survival.

Follow Innovid (@innovid) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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