Designing a simpler and more enjoyable TV experience

creating value | designing an experience | shaping a business

As a beginner on designing to solve problems and imagine a desired and better future, when I challenged myself a year and a half ago to rethink how it felt to watch TV, all I wanted was the opportunity to experience how it was like to go through the whole process of identifying and proposing creative, clever and viable ideas to solve real world problems. Despite appearing to be linear, the process for that was actually very chaotic and disordely, with the next step been dictated by the course of new discoveries.

Starting by questioning

“Are people delivered a great experience to get their job done through the tools they are currently offered to do that?”

Reviewing the experience to reach entertainment through current TV products and services and understanding their pains.

What do we want to accomplish?

The very first step was to try to understand the jobs to be done. What need or task people are trying to accomplish? Answering this took going beyond the obvious and digging deep for the unexpected. It also required taking the shallow thoughts of what a job represented and searching for new meanings beyond the one attributed by common wisdom. Is it really about being entertained and distracted or something much more complex?

After obversations and thinking, I reached the comprehension that, in fact, there could be a deeper sentiment to be tackled. The one of curiosity for how would it feel to belong to somewhere else, of letting your thoughts and feelings be dictated by an alternate reality other than the one you physically stand.

Storytelling is the essencial purpose that ties all content together. Apart from being real or fictitious. Apart from having a major responsibility to inform and permit us to see and feel something we simply couldn’t by any other means. All of them is about telling stories that connect us to somewhere else. A new place and context.

People may essencially do that to learn and discover, to explore different worlds, to experience something new and exciting or even escape reality. Entertainment isn’t the main thing, but the outcome of a deeply engaging experience with a story being told. And at this context, TV embody characteristics that wisely leveraged could turn out to yield the best experiences, with the right balance of convenience and immension.

What experiences are we left with?

Based on previous discoveries, to evaluate if the way people execute their task needed to be reinvented, I relied on undertanding if there was a perfect fit between what they are trying to accomplish and the tools they have available.

At this point, experiences were considered on their entirety and not only the ones provided by TV related solutions were reviewed, but also the ones coming from different products and services like social networks, popular apps or websites, that while holding distinct purposes, could well offer people a mean to sustain their needs for entertainment and stories.

The base for such thinking is that needs are not met on a logical and organized way. Even if not designed for that purpose, a stone could be a hammer if people felt like it. And in very especific contexts, could even be the best one.

What are the pains?

After analysing the experience provided by existing solutions to get the job done. It came down to identifying where current products and services fail on doing it right.

Several different use scenarios were considered. Touchpoints were reviewed as well as how they related to each other in order to sustain a smooth and hiccup-free customer journey.

Currently, the experience for reaching entertainment through TV is poorly conceived and executed, with many unintegrated products and services living together, forming a confusing and complex ecosystem that pave the way for a terrible customer journey.

Understanding the severity of each pain and their role on people not being able to successfully have a great experience to consume stories and reach entertainment was both essencial and challenging. It was only with constant observations and deep thinking that I could overcome the abstract essence of that concept and better guide the following design process.

Experimenting with new ideas to create value

“Playing with new ideas for how the best TV should look like meant going back and forth among ideation, prototyping and evaluation until reaching the right fit between form and function and the ideal experience for how it should serve people.”

Ideating hundreds of different ways to create value for customers and content creators while solving some their problems.

At this moment, some of customers’ most relevant jobs and pains were already understood, so it was time to explore ideas that could better fit and alleviate them.

Realizing people’s most severe and relevant pains is the starting point for creating meaningful value, but coming up with elegant and effective solutions equally defines how the experience for getting a job done is actually better than what already exists.

Using the Value Proposition canvas to prototype every possible scenario in which a product or service helped customers get their jobs done more easily helped understand what a great solution should be made of in order to provide people with more appropriate experiences.

There’s not much secret in this process, as there’s also not many rules. The focus is to go for quantity, freely, with an open mind and no judgement. The part on our brain responsable for seeking ideas and analysising are not the same, so going back and forth between those two activities would slow you down and lead to unproductivity.

When coming to filtering ideas, going for the most simplest, clever and elegant ones was my rule. The selected ones were then prototyped in order to be tested and turned into feedbacks of how appropriate they actually were.

This step generated multiple insights, used to mature then current ideas, combine with old ones or even give birth to another. That iteration between thinking and testing enabled faster learning and solutions supposedly closer to being suitable as hundreds of different ways for how it didn’t fit were considered before reaching an agreement for how it did.

Along this journey of iteration, critical thinking helped avoid sticking to the good ideas that didn’t made to the best ones. Which is valuable when you realize that a great experience with a product or service is not only defined by what it offers, but also by everything it chooses not to. These trade-offs serve not only as a way to make amazing ideas viable, but also as a mean to get them out of the noise, give them focus and a place to shine. Straightforward solutions are not only easier for people to use and understand, but more effective on accomplishing their purpose.

Designing an experience

“Great design not only makes it easy for people to have a great experience but also very hard for them to have a bad one.”

The holistic approach to design drived the revinvention of how searching for stories and entertainment could feel like and result into an experience, as a whole, simpler and more enjoyable.

Conceiving a better journey where customers could travel on their way to entertainment was pretty much a question of better orchestrating their path by designing tools that could help them easily advance torwards their goal without bumps and annoyances.

Interestingly the nature of those tools varied significantly, from a new digital interface and remote control, to a reimagined service and brand new systems of interaction, content distribution and extension of the TV possibilities through integration with other products.

Among the greatest enablers of a more smooth and simpler journey is the decision to not being locked to existing mental models for how things should work and try to patch the situation based solely on existing rules. But instead, try to create new boxes of thinking where new models could determine more suitable regulation for how things should behave.

For instance, a new way for how people should acquire, be distributed, discover and pay for content that escaped the problems of the current system that only permit content to be sold on bundles that hardly fit us and delivered through channels that are unflexible and harm discovery.

Interaction tool sketches

Mapped a vision of how the new TV experience should be unfolded, it was time to design the individual touchpoints and tools that made it.

The envisioning of a whole new remote control and form for how users would interact with the TV was one the main areas of work at this process. Its concept was developed along the design of the digital interface for optimal synergy. The intention was that one could complement the other, so that gestures executed on the remote control unfolded so naturally on the screen that you really felt like the causer of each action and the resposability to accomplish each task could be shared among both of them in order to enable the simplest, most intuitive and fast interactions. Differently than what happens nowadays where digital interfaces impose more complex usabilities and controls end up incorporating too many buttons to handle all the required interactions.

“Interaction should play a fundamental role on the TV experience, but at the same time, its presence should limit to being almost unexisting.”

Reaching a remote control that accomodated a single button required coming up with a lot of other ideas that put together could easily handle all the flow of interactions the product demanded. While on early contexts of use, intuitiveness may be key for a great starting experience, it can only be maintained if users are offered fast and easy access to the kinds of content they love when use become workaday.

Ideas like the effortless recognization of the user when pressing the power button and the personalized experience brought right away freed the control to accomodate a numeric keypad for example, permitting users to easily save, favorite, organize and forward access their content with a single gesture from the top edge of the touchpad.

Interface sketches

The interface, designed to be essencial and unobstrusive, and a new service, proposing a simpler system for content distribution and organization, also helped mitigate complexity, contributing heavily to the conception of a powerful and intuive new control and interaction system. However the most important contribution is still attributed to the integrated design process, that permitted each area affecting user experience to work on the strength of each other and divert from each other weaknesses to create a consistently good whole.

Creating 3D prototypes in order to enable a more realistic view of ideas

Finally, I devoted the same meticulous care from the design of a better product and service to the design of a complete site where people could have a great experience exploring and discovering my ideas. The intention was to trigger their imagination about how it would actually feel to use the product in real life and how great such experience could be. Something they could only do if inspired to believe it could happen.

To realize that thought, I though had to get me out of the confort zone again. I didn’t know a single thing about coding and had to learn everything from scratch.

As a designer, that reinforced my belief that in order to be a problem solver you can’t define yourself by your tools since you’ll never know which nature problems may take or which form their solutions may enbody.

Shaping a business

“Designing a business model with potential to be successful came after a great process of experimenting with different ways for how it could fit everyone’s interests and create the greatest value for costs that are minimal.”

Experimenting with several different business models helped reach a framework for value delivery that worked for all.

Launching great products into the world demand wrapping them first into a viable business that makes the delivery of value to customers sustainable for all the involved parts. Solutions such as this that promote great changes from the current way of how value is delivered must not only certify that everyone’s interests is put into account, but also that they’re exposed to a much more promising environment for business in order to mitigate uncertainty.

While being constantly questioned about their future among the recent popularity of streaming services, TV content providers often maintain profitable businesses, with broadcast channels yet experiencing some revenue growths, so creating a much better environment to monetize their content was certainly challenging.

A very helpful tool along this journey was the Business Model Canvas that enabled exploring several different configurations of business and a simple, dynamic and straightforward experience on overseing the logistics of value delivery based on the information defined on each building block.

Leveraging what’s meaningful and getting rid of what’s unessential

Another great tool to further improve the business model on its way to accomodate desirability and sustainability was the Blue Ocean Strategy, which permitted a clear visualization of the value currently delivered compared to the new one in order to understand how meaningful and unique it actually is.

Diverging from the industry standard value proposition is the best way to forge differenciation, create products and services that are distinctively useful and improve competitiveness against established and well-known brands.

Explore the new TV concept, here.