What does TV represent nowadays ?
Since the 80s, Television has acquired a central place in the household. According to recent studies, the average person spends nearly 4 hours a day watching TV. That’s a lot of time. Even if internet and online video watching became something very common, TV is still an important device for household. Most of the TV experience is delivered through its broadcasted content. But a viewer’s interaction, navigation through channels and the access to related services (such as on-demand features or channel subscriptions) also play a huge part in the overall experience.
Daily time spend watching TVIn 2014 / Source : The Statistics Portal
Daily time spend watching TV in FranceFrom 1996 to 2014 / Source : Mediametrie
How to improve the existing SFR experience on TV ?
The analysis of the current SFR TV service was central in the redesign exercise I have undertaken. It was important to capture every feature offered in the SFR TV box. The in-depth analysis of the current interface helped me define what I had to work on. After 2 years of daily usage, I gained a good understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the product. Here are some areas I have worked on to improve the experience.
Simplify the structure and ease access to key features
Drinks and discussions with friends and relatives who use SFR’s TV box helped me to prioritise functionalities and focus on the ones that are more important. The more important and most frequently used functions must be accessible easily and quickly. Those tasks which few untertake and even fewer complete can be stored in a less obvious place. This really helped me understand and tackle navigation issues and design a better content architecture. From a user perspective, it is possible to group features as follow :
It relates to all the user generated content (especially recordings) and its connected devices (such as an external hard drive).
TV and programming
These are the most evident activities : watching TV and be aware of what to watch.
Users might wants to discover and consume content that can entertain them (whether it is movie, radio, games etc.)
Finding a better content organization
SFR provide numerous services through their TV box (video game on demande, radio, TV on demand, subscriptions for specific channels etc.). The current product has a very broad architecture. Even if research about breadth and depth suggest that first is better than second for memory and cognitive load, I chose to reduce the breadth of their product by grouping services together, even if it meant creating new hierarchical levels. For instance, I have regrouped ‘TV on demand’ and ‘Video on demand’ into one concise section called “On Demand”. I could have also put Video games in this section, but as the audience and the nature of the service are so different, I decided to instead keep a ‘Video Game’ specific section.
Build an intuitive and consistent TV experience
Testing navigation and worfklows
Before jumping on detail wireframes, I needed to validate navigation principles. It allows me to understand how users would work their way through the product. Userflow and scenarios help me to ensure the experience is smooth enough. I tried four different flows that involves some of the main features. It help me balance the number of steps vs. the amount of information and possibilities for each step.
Sketch time !
Once I got a better understanding of what I wanted to do and the issues I should tackle, I took some time to sketch layouts and try different design approaches. I like to draw low fidelity layouts as they help me determine very quickly what works and what doesn’t. I can iterate easily. It also allows me to see the different versions I’ve worked on and in what direction I’m going. Sketches are also a good way to gather feedback before jumping ahead to detailed wireframes.
Enjoy a natural TV and video experience
Lets have a look at the details
Let users focus on what they are watching
When watching content, the interface become very discrete and natural. Information and data about programs, channels etc. are still viewable at a glance. When the user turns on their box, the program of the latest channel he was watching immediately occupies more than ¾ of the screen, immersing them directly into a fuller video experience. They can still easily navigate through the SFR features, thanks to the primary menu on the left.
Make it easy to navigate
The current SFR interface uses several navigation patterns (hierarchical, flat, etc.). I chose to keep one consistent system and use it accross the entire interface. One of the most evident way to browse movies or series is to navigate through "cards" (the user enter it or leave it if the content is not satisfactory). I used this metaphore not only for movies collection but also for features. It helps the user explore content collection and features easily.
I choose to distinguish different menus through colour. The primary navigation menu is white, while contextual ones have a red background. It helps the user determine in which context he actually is.
In the primary menu, the TV section is central. Everything related to the user himself (saved programs for instance) are located above the Television items while generic sections and features (subscription, radio etc.) are below. This helps the user to easily understand in which direction he needs to go to access specific sections of his TV.
Give users some context
There are different kinds of content accessible through the SFR TV box. The interface helps the user distinguish the type of content through colour differenciation. Everything related to SFR (saved programs, on demand videos etc.) are associated with red, while content delivered by third-party (channels) is white.
Push content where it is useful and anticipated
When a user presses the right arrow of his remote, he accesses information about the evening’s programs, and those coming next. Right is often associated with the future, so this seems to be the most evident interaction concerning the right arrow. If we consider that a user accessing this menu is most probably looking for new/different content, it is then appropriate to push on-demand content in this area, as he will be more inclined to rent movies/content.