Usability of your AIR for TV application

Here’s another design consideration for the user interface of AIR for TV applications. (This and other tips will be incorporated soon into Adobe online documentation).

Users of AIR for TV applications are in a “living room” environment. They are sitting across the room from the TV, some 10 feet away. The room is sometimes dark. They typically use a remote control device for input. More than one person can be using the application, sometimes together, sometimes serially.

Therefore, to design your user interface for usability on a TV, consider the following:

  • Make the user interface elements large.This best practice might be obvious to many developers, but the temptation does exist to crowd the screen just because the screen has so much space.  Don’t give in to this temptation. When designing text, buttons, or any other user interface elements, consider that the user is sitting across the room. Make everything easy to see and read from, for example, 10 feet away. 
  • Use good contrast to make the content easy to see and read from across the room.
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  • Make obvious which user interface element has the focus by making that element bright.  See the blog entry from March 8 about Managing Focus.
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  • Use motion only as necessary. For example, sliding from one screen to the next for continuity can work well. However, motion can be distracting if it does not help the user navigate or if it is not intrinsic to the application.
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  • Always provide an obvious way for the user to go back through the user interface.