Playstation Vue isn’t quite cable TV, and it is not yet the cord-cutter’s al-la-carte experience either.
But in a market trying to figure out what to become next, Vue is very much at the forefront of that conversation. And this change isn’t just for the customers, it is for the content creators and advertisers as well.
We commissioned user testing on existing prototypes and conducted our own ad hoc ethnographic studies to understand some of our audience’s basic motivations. Most interestingly we heard repeated examples of people switching on the set without really knowing what they wanted to watch - sometimes to relieve boredom, sometimes just to fill the house with noise
We also dived into the business to try and separate what were actual benefits for the user as opposed to limitations imposed by technology or contractual obligations.
We boiled this information down to a couple of guiding principles:
- Viewers and TV share a history and set of behaviors that span decades. The initial experience should recognize this and ease users in.
- Presenting UI first and insisting on a relatively high level of engagement from the viewer was found to be off-putting. Instead the service should, like traditional TV before it, start by showing the same network as when you last switched off.
- Viewers are not afraid of long lists. Channel surfing - switching through content with minimal cognitive effort until the viewer finds something good enough for now - is another key behavior we felt it was important to emulate.
- We also wanted to retain a strong idea of channels - viewers rely on them as curators, knowing that they can trust them to provide a consistent style and quality of content.
- Our customers, in particular the early adopting types, are generally savvy about the advantages and limitations of any given service.
- Position features in a way that satisfies user goals, not marketing bullet points.
- Only offer features when they make sense to the lean-back viewer, but allow a more involved UI for the engaged, lean-forward user.
- Make tutorials and system messaging a key part of the design. Explain what is happening and why - this is streaming video, not instantaneous cable - be clear about things like streaming quality and load times.