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Getting Your Site Ready for TV

Tips for Optimizing Your Site for the TV Experience

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If you’re not already, it’s time to start thinking about optimizing your site for televisions. With more connected devices coming out and gaining popularity (not to mention people simply hooking their computers up to their TVs), you’re going to want to have a site that is presentable on large TV screens, as well as small ones. 

Now that Google’s own Google TV is here, the company is talking more about TV optimization itself. "Because Google TV has a fully functioning web browser built in, users can easily visit your site from their TV," says Google Developer Programs Tech Lead Maile Ohye. "Current sites should already work, but you may want to provide your users with an enhanced TV experience — what’s called the ’10-foot UI’ (user interface). They’ll be several feet away from the screen, not several inches away, and rather than a mouse on their desktop, they’ll have a remote with a keyboard and a pointing device."

Ohye says that text should be large enough to be viewable from the sofa-to-TV distance, site navigation should be able to be performed through button arrows on the remote, selectable elements should provide a visual queue when selected (it should be obvious what sections are highlighted), etc. 

There is an entire Google TV site optimization guide here and a checklist here. I would get familiar with these. Google actually has a gallery of sites that are optimized for TV, though it’s not very big, and very video-based. 

Google says you can get a general idea of what your site looks like on TV by using a large monitor, making the window size 1920 X 1080, visiting your site in a browser at full screen, zooming the browser to 1.5X the normal size, moving back, and looking at it. 

It’s also worth noting that people using Google TV are required to use a Google account, as Danny Sullivan points out in his review of the new Sony Google TV-ready Blu-Ray Player. Interestingly, it also asks users if they want to send usage stats to Google (this is aggregate data used for detecting bugs, according to the company, which also says it doesn’t collect any viewing history. According to Sullivan, Google still has a lot of work to do with search on Google TV.

Is your site ready for TV? 

Getting Your Site Ready for TV
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  • Zoe Downs

    Here is another Internet TV company we found that looks very promising. http://www.whitehatt.com

  • http://www.SouthPacificWireless.com Big Aussie

    Is it just me, or is this whole discussion about Internet TV another re-run.

    I recall everyone in web development in 2001 worrying a lot about how your website was going to look on the MSN-TV (Was originally Web TV set top box). At that time it was setup to rescale websites from 800×600 down to the 560 width of a standard tube based TV of the time — and on 56k dialup.

    Lets hope that now we have real broadband (some countries do); the graphic designers behind many websites get their act together with larger fonts. Instead of those trendy tiny soft grey fonts on a dark grey background.

    CSS is to stop all the problems with scaling of fonts — isn’t it?

    It is going to be another 5 years of trying to squeeze websites made for Widescreen monitors into widescreen TVs. All so that Google can throw more advertising at us. I can live with their advertising so long as it doesn’t jump up in volume like all the TV stations do now.

    Never a dull minute on the internet :p

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