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TV interfaces are also known as 10-foot user interfaces because 10 feet (3m) is the approximate distance that users will sit from the TV. For designers, this means that the “big screen” cannot really be considered “big” but that you have to keep the same considerations that you have when making a mobile application:

  • All application elements and text need to be bigger than those used for computers. We recommend a minimum text size of 22px, though you may be able to go as low as 18px if your design does not accommodate a bigger font. Considering that you need approximately 10px of padding for your buttons, we recommend them to be of a minimum size of 34px height.
  • Fonts should be big and clean. We recommend using simple sans-serif fonts.
  • More empty space is needed between elements to avoid items blending into each other from a distance and creating clutter.
  • There should be enough contrast between the background and the application elements. This is especially important when you use a fullscreen photo as a background.
  • When items are selected, the highlight should be visible and clear so that there is never any doubt what is selected.
  • Light content on a darker background is usually easier to read/view on a TV.
  • Do not be tempted to think that a bigger screen means that you can include more content. Less is more. Only include relevant content, and keep the amount of content on each screen to a minimum.

TV viewer
A TV in the distance is not much bigger than a close mobile screen

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Navigation/Controls

TV users are usually limited to a simple four-way spatial navigation (UP, RIGHT, DOWN, LEFT) with a regular remote.

 

TV remote
Everything should be accessible with the directional keys, OK and Exit (also labelled BACK on certain remotes)

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