Washington Post on TV, for Cord-Cutters
An interactive television app delivering a new nightly newscast produced especially for random-access and topical browsing along with an extended catalog of wire-service video news. The initial prototype led to a major newsroom initiative at The Washington Post extending the property beyond the original Android and GoogleTV application into a flagship web product, YouTube channel, integration in the Post's iOS apps, and porting to Roku.
Developing the original PostTV presented an exciting user interface challenge: a single interface had to function equally well for the "ten foot UI" experience facilitated by remote control and for the more intimate arm's length experience of Google's Nexus 7 tablet.
The process began as a short, focused collaboration between the product manager, Android developer, and myself over the course of a single day. The PM presented high-level technical and experience requirements, from which we designed a rough user flow and basic hierarchy of views for the app. User experience work paused while the app's back-end was developed to integrate with The Washington Post's existing video CMS.
Recommencing design work, I paired with our UX analyst to review analysis of existing GoogleTV video applications and the particular quirks of the remote control interface produced by a variety of hardware manufacturers. I especially sought to adapt existing interface patterns we deemed successful to suit our intended user experience.
One question surfaced again-and-again as I designed other flows and views in the PostTV user experience. Are GoogleTV users Android devotees? More exactly, how much should we rely on common Android user flows in designing this app?
Our team determined that while a large portion GoogleTV owners were not already Android users, we would gain an advantage with those who were and facilitate future porting of the app to Android mobile devices if we strictly adhered to Google's patterns.
That quickly proved to be the right choice, as Google announced the forthcoming release of its first Nexus 7 tablet: we were able to adapt the design easily for touch-interfaces to produce a universal TV and tablet-ready version without delaying our intended launch. Immediately following the launch, I adapted the user experience and interface design for smartphones.