Google TV interface


All the major television networks have blocked Google TV’s access to watch their shows online.  Does this mean that Google TV users should toss their devices?  I wouldn’t be so quick to get rid of that Google TV, Boxee Box or Roku right now. Talented developers are working hard at bringing the internet to our living rooms.  I’m not talking about the WebTv interface of long ago.  These developers are creating awesome works arts with Flash, CSS and HTML5.  If the first group of user interfaces are signs of what we should expect, I am excited to see what the future holds.

This is the first part of a series that we are doing on web applications devoting time and resources into developing for the Google TV and other devices that connect to your television.  Several of the featured websites in the SPOTLIGHT section of Google TV are amazing little web applications.  The designs are innovative and user friendly at the same time.

We are excited to see just how creative designs will become in the coming months , but we are focusing on the best and brightest that are out there right now.

Clicker got us in contact with Ryan Massie, their EVP of Products.  Ryan was able to answer some of our questions below:

photo credit: HTPC Blog

1.)  In which ways did you have to rethink your layout to be optimized for the Google TV experience?

The way people use their TV is quite different from the way they use their computer or their mobile phone. Website are developed for the size of a computer monitor with a full keyboard. As smartphones became more prevalent, products had to fit that form factor by becoming easier to read on a smaller screen with a smaller keyboard.

2.) Was it difficult to design a TV friendly site meant to be controlled via remote control instead of a typical querty styled keyboard?

Yes. Because this is new technology, we ran into two major constraints. Because there are many different types of computers, browsers and remotes, making sure the actions worked across many devices was difficult. Our biggest issue however was once the user left and visited another website the navigation is out of our control.

3.) What were the biggest challenges of adapting a website built for Google TV and the Chrome Browser?

Working with Google TV and the Chrome team was easy. Our biggest challenge was figuring out how to create the best experience for a 10 foot UI. It took designers and developers a few years in the mid nineties to create the standards for developing websites. And over the last 5 years there have been many improvements to the experience on mobile devices. We believe the user experience on the TV will go through the same process and we’re just at the beginning.

4.) Where do you see Google TV enhanced sites going in the future?

We’re barely in the first inning of connected-TVs and the Web on TV experience. Navigation will be a key part of future innovation especially from site to site and across different apps. Also, we’ll get closer to a standard remote for the Web, like we did for TVs, which will help normalize experiences across different devices and make it easier for more sites to develop TV-friendly interfaces.

As more TV’s are equiped with an Internet connection websites will have to make the same transformation to fit the new form factor and the way people use their set. With that in mind Clicker had to account for the TV being approximately 10 feet away which means bigger fonts and fewer features one each page. Navigation need to be more simple so we developed and easy up/down/left/right select navigation.
Below is a short screencast of Clicker’s 10ft UI captured using a notebook computer for display on a television.  The interface is fully controlled using only the directional arrow keys.

About Ryan Massie

Ryan manages all things product and content for Clicker. Prior to Clicker, Ryan ran vertical search product development at, where he launched and managed AskCity, Mobile, News, Maps, and various cross-company initiatives for Interactive Corp (IAC). Prior to Ask, Ryan held business and product management positions with and ChoicePoint. Ryan graduated from Duke University with a B.S. in Psychology and he earned an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management. Ryan grew up in Lexington, KY, and spent his college years in Durham, N.C. That, along with his passion for Kentucky basketball and being a Kentucky Colonel, makes him a Southerner.

Special thanks to Morgan at for being so helpful.
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