There’s an idea that good content will drive users towards your services. This may be the case for already established platforms, such as Netflix, Hulu, Apple and so on, but when you’re still fighting for your place in the market and launching your business, there’s much more to be said.
We’ll talk about content later, for now, let’s focus on first impressions and how shallow we all are. Yes, I said it, we are shallow, and before we dive into any content catalog, we like to feast our eyes and overall senses on the experience of navigating through a menu and browsing all the possibilities a new platform has to offer.
From this perspective, we definitely think that the best way to build an Operator Launcher is by taking advantage of Android TV. The benefits are clear and well documented, it can be completely customized to fit your brand, so you don’t have to worry about looking like any other service using the framework; it gets you where you want to be in a much faster way than building everything from scratch; and the cherry on top of the cake is that you can ride that sweet wave of the Google Play store, increasing your content offering to the billions. Did we already mention it also supports Google Assistant features, enabling voice commands? Yes, it does that too.
Although Android TV is powerful enough right out of the box, it can be a behemoth when put together with your content, but it needs capable hands to reach that point. So what goes into building a great Operator Tier Launcher? The best way to answer that is by talking to experts, and so we did, in this case, the programmer and designer behind WeTek’s Android TV development team, André Ferreira and Ana Lopes.
What is the first step into building a good Operator Tier Launcher?
André Ferreira: The first thing we need to keep in mind is content. We need to know what will be distributed and then move from there, as usability expectations tend to be different for each type of content. Movies are very different from TV shows, as one has seasons and the other doesn’t, movies can be searched by director and TV shows are often much more fragmented. This is just the tip of the iceberg. a general idea of how a launcher should be planned on a case-by-case basis.
Ana Lopes: From a designer standpoint, we need to take content into consideration but also go beyond it and dig further into the brand we’re working for. We need to be very protective of the company’s image and act accordingly when establishing the visual world it tries to convey. Other then that, we need to juggle with Google’s guidelines, which aren’t very prohibitive but are there nonetheless.
What is the perfect workflow in your team, if indeed there is one?
AL: There’s no right way to go about workflow, but one thing is for sure, communication should be maintained every step of the way. In our last project, we started with the basic design of a few screens, which in turn were passed along to the developer team in order to implement the experience our client had in mind. These guidelines are exactly what they should be, guidelines, because the next step is to transport the work done to a device, so that our testers can have a real feel of how the platform works in a user context. All of this works in cycles and by running each section of the platform at a time — let’s call it a “trial and error” kind of workflow, so that each individual step is taken care of before moving forward. From a design standpoint, this means the adjustment of text sizes, different ways in which the content is presented, menu redesigns and a whole myriad of other options.
AF: I think Ana pretty much summed it up, User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) are the base for a great product. The only sure starting point is to follow Google’s guidelines or requirements and build upon it. We need to give your client’s users the content they want, or like, in a simple and intuitive way, while still making the available actions/features easy to use and understand. This can only be achieved by some back and forth and a lot of creativity, and I think we have a lot of it here.
Whose work influences more the other?
AF: It goes both ways. Sometimes developers have to find a way to make the design work, and other times de design needs to change due to technical or time constraints.
AL: Though design tends to influence the developer’s work more often than not, there’s no rule of thumb. The way we work, developers usually take the metrics provided by the designers and their initial concepts, it then gets worked on and later returned with a “we can’t do this statement”, but not to anybody’s fault. It’s only natural that designers are not aware of every technological possibility or lack thereof, and a creative mind goes to places beyond possibility, but a compromise is easily achieved.
What’s the hardest part about getting the design right?
AL: Designing for a TV screen, it is a completely different format when compared to web or mobile. You need to adapt sizes, margins, objects and element scales… this doesn’t seem like much, but every small thing matters and the slightest detail can make or break the project. That’s why Google’s guidelines are there, not to cut your legs in any way, but to provide you with good and valuable information while making the translation from paper to practical work. But, with a few projects under your belt, those basics can be easily mastered, with the mind behind those tweaks being the deciding factor.
What’s the hardest part behind a developer’s work while building the launcher?
AF: Creating the best architecture for the system we want to build, in order to create the groundworks for it to become easily expandable and scalable, not only with features but also new screens. The really tricky part is juggling everything and making the system feel fluid, fast and responsive. With your goals completely outlined you can get a clearer sense of how you should work, but there are no perfect scenarios and we sure like the challenge.
To know more about WeTek’s customizable Android TV Launcher or Video Delivery Solutions, be sure to visit our website.