Streaming media provides nearly instant access to countless movies, TV shows, music videos, live events, and user-generated media. This content is frequently consumed on mobile devices such as tablets and phones, but the family television arguably (still!) provides the best viewing experience. It is undoubtedly the largest screen in the home, usually with the most vivid display, and often providing the most impressive audio as well (either natively, or through an attached sound system).
App developers used to publishing on mobile are discovering that bringing their products to a smart TV or set-top box allows their apps to shine. Using an app in the living room—the 10-foot experience—opens a whole new chapter on how they interact with their users: richer content, voice control, deep engagement, and immersive media are just a few of the new elements developers are coming to appreciate.
4 design considerations
Designing for the 10-foot experience does require that developers understand the capabilities (and limitations) of TV hardware, and to reconsider how they present information and handle user input. There are a few key design principles that apply.
1. Remember the 10-foot UI
TV interfaces are often referred to as 10-foot user interfaces (10-ft UI), because the typical user views the screen from ten feet away (or more). Although the screen itself can be large, the perceived screen resolution is lower, and distance from the screen results in a smaller angle of view.
The design choices you make for an application or web page running on a desktop computer, tablet, or phone are fundamentally different than for a TV app, since users typically view those screens from much closer distances.
Also, keep in mind that a television is used in a more relaxed fashion than a computer, tablet, or phone. The UI on the TV should not require as much attention or precision. Designing for the 10-ft UI may require you to wholly rethink the layout and navigation of an existing app.
2. Prioritze clear, simple, and visual design
The design of a screen in a 10-ft UI requires simplicity and clarity, with low information density. Limit the number of design elements or UI components on the screen, such as menus, buttons, and images. Make sure that those elements are large enough and spaced far enough apart to be read from a distance. Present a clear set of actions or options for each screen.
Minimize the amount of text, since users do not read a lot of text on a television screen. Avoid requiring the user to input a lot of information by providing reasonable defaults where possible.
3. Place important content first
Place the most important content or options first on the screen so they are easily viewable and navigable by the user.
4. Focus on consumption
Applications should have a clear focus on quickly getting content to users. Television interfaces are primarily about providing entertainment. When users sit down in front of their television, they don’t want to do extra work. They need simple user interfaces that match their primary goal: “Give me something to watch, listen to, or play with right now.”
Learn more about developing for Amazon Fire TV
To learn more, download our free eBook titled, "How to Develop Media Streaming Apps for Amazon Fire TV." You'll learn best practices for designing for a 10-foot UI, how to use Amazon's dedicated tools and templates, how to publish to the Amazon Appstore, and more.