STARZ Apps for TV
Creative Solutions for TV Interfaces
For the past few years, this has been my main focus of work. The Starz family of apps is a constant work-in-progress, for which I lead all design efforts across our television-based apps, which we call the "10 foot" platforms. This currently includes:
Starz on TV.
Design for large screens.
tvOS (Apple TV 3rd and 4th gen)
Amazon Fire TV
Google Nexus Player
Smart TVs (Samsung, LGTV)
Designing for television is complex and challenging. On one hand, it can be simpler than native mobile or responsive web apps because it requires only a single screen size. This makes some design decisions like font and image sizes much more straightforward. On the other hand, television UI is much more limiting and restrictive. There are no mouse pointers or finger swiping in TV land! A remote with only basic directional buttons, "select" and "back", requires that navigation patterns and flows be much more specific, and must always show a single focused element to let the user know their "location" in the UI. Working through these kinds of challenges has helped me to excel at thinking through user flows, app architecture, and potential edge cases. I strive to anticipate all possible paths that a user may take, and ensure that all facets of our interface remain simple and user-friendly.
Process & Tools
The STARZ UX team has grown significantly over the past few years. Our process is always evolving and adapting based on the size and scope of a project. In general, each project will go through the following steps:
Product kickoff: define business and user goals
Research: competitive analysis, reviews of user feedback & analytics
Whiteboarding and/or rough layout sketching
Define intial user flows and wireframes with prototyping tools including InVision and Lucidcharts
Wireframes and user flows are reviewed by various product owners and stakeholders, and often go through many cycles of iterations. We also review our concepts with the development teams to ensure there are no technical limitations.
Once product/stakeholders have approved the overall direction, we create high fidelity UI designs with Sketch and define feature requirements in Confluence
Finalized (and approved) designs are exported from Sketch to Zeplin , and delivered to development teams along with fully defined written requirements from Confluence
Follow-up and ongoing QA during development to ensure designs and specs have been implemented, bugs and defects logged with JIRA
Of course, depending on the size and scope of a project, some of these steps may be skipped, and others may go through multiple iterations. We always aim to be flexible and agile, and adapt to the needs of the work.
New Branding & Redesigns
During my time as lead TV designer, Starz has gone through two redesign projects. Our first project involved a complete re-skin of the apps, as well as integrating new branding and copy to better establish the brand voice. During this time, we were still heavily focused on device expansion–getting the app developed and available on as many platforms as possible. Our presence on TV platforms was more minimal at that time, so the redesign efforts were less intensive.
The second project was much larger: including a complete re-architecture of the app, the addition of in-app purchase features, new color palettes and logos and an entirely new aesthetic. This time, we started from scratch. As our device expansion efforts had grown, the apps had become disjointed and confusing, so one of our major goals for this project was to create a cohesive and consistent experience across all platforms. I worked in tandem with other platform lead designers (for web and mobile devices), to create wireframes, layouts, flows, and final UI designs that would achieve this goal. Because of the unique interaction patterns and limitations of TV platforms, my work often required creative thinking and interpretation to figure out how a web or mobile UI might translate onto a TV screen. This is still a large part of my work today.