Reimagining EPG for modern televisions

When we talk about the live content experience on TV, an Electronic program guide (EPG) plays a crucial role in the whole experience. EPG is more like a catalog where users can see what is playing and navigate and explore other channels/content.

What are the basic elements of an EPG?

EPG is a multiple channel/content system that includes navigation and sorting information.

Navigation: Interacting with the EPG to lead them to the desired content information.

Focus Area: Highlighting Selected areas in focus upon navigation throughout the remote to give better visibility to the users.

Now and Next: Details about the current content they are watching, plus the following content.

Near Information: Movies or shows that are scheduled for today or tomorrow.

Content Information: Information about the content available to them, includes the channel, ratings, etc.

How much EPG has evolved

Key areas while reimagining the EPG for Xstream Smart Box

  1. Increasing the exploration of channels and movies/shows.
  2. Simplifying the overall experience keeping the core experience in mind.
  3. Introduction of Category and Language section in the EPG.
  4. Increase user engagement on EPG.

Challenges and limitations

  1. Channels listing cannot be personalized at that moment in time.
  2. Keeping up with TRAI guidelines.
  3. The development and recovery time was high.
  4. All channels need to be shown irrespective of users subscribed to them or not.

Solution Model

  1. Least effort for the user - in case of remote, recall factor for D-pad button in the remote.
  2. Decreasing the cognitive load - eliminate unnecessary info, reduce the number of rows.
  3. Simplifying the experience, making it more delightful — the number of clicks, engage more (setting a reminder, recording, adding language, genre selection).
  4. Keeping it accessible for all — users from different age groups can easily understand and use.

Paper prototyping

Before opening Figma, tried out the paper prototyping from our initial sketches to understand the flow and experience.

Iterative Process

Worked on multiple ideas and iterations before coming to the final solution, which was presented to various stakeholders and the teams involved. With the feedback gathered multiple iterations were tied out.

Iteration 1: Keeping only the most essential information at the front was the most minimal approach.

Iteration 2: The information-heavy version where we tried to show all the available information on the go.

Iteration 3: At last we came up with the experience which is most suitable for our audience and most feasible tech-wise. This was the combination of both the approaches used in iterations 1 and 2.

Interaction Choreography

When users go up and down in any rail, multiple information genres are changed simultaneously, like channels and shows. To keep the most negligible cognitive load, the direction of user action is similar to information appearing, Keeping the focus area the same.

While shifting from one section to another, the focus row will always be the same, and when a particular area of information is not required for the users to make the decision, that will hide accordingly.

Instead of showing all the available language upfront, showed initially chosen languages to simplify the experience. However, users can always add multiple languages as per their preference in the language rail.

Keeping a separate section for content detail within the EPG by pressing the “menu” button on the remote and go back from pressing the “back” button. TV users are very familiar with these remote actions; instead of adding any CTA, we used the remote actions.

The idea was to keep the designs minimal and easy to be accessible. There was already much information to show, relying on the interaction that certain information will appear to avoid the cognitive load, helping users make decisions easily and quickly.

Currently, these new EPG designs are up running live on all the Airtel Xstream boxes available, and if you own the box or know someone who has go check it out.

Thank you for reading; you are awesome!

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Product Designer at Airtel | Guy with a notepad