WebTV Design Guide For Webmasters: Primary Considerations | WebReference

WebTV Design Guide For Webmasters: Primary Considerations

Primary Considerations

Four primary components must be considered in broadcast design for the Web: The audience, screen size, color usage, and mouseless navigation.


As Internet access is integrated with TV, it is important for designers to realize the TV audience's expectation of being entertained. Static information presentations will not fill the bill. Broadcast designers must incorporate visual as well as textual content, including sound and animation. The TV audience is accustomed to one central focus point, and will be unfamiliar with "scrolling", "linking", "searching", and other functions that are second nature to the Internet's computer culture. Broadcast designers must also keep in mind that the TV audience will likely be viewing the screen from 5-8 feet away, so font sizes will be rendered much differently than on a computer monitor. Generally, text will be displayed in 16-18 pt. fonts.

Screen Size

The design area is smaller for TV. The screen will accommodate pages of only 544 pixels wide and 376 pixels high, although the actual dimensions of the screen are somewhat larger.

Screen Size Diagram


Color considerations are straightforward. Dark backgrounds work better than light ones for TV, and both pure white and pure red should be avoided because they cause distortion. Horizontal rules of one pixel will flicker on a TV screen, so horizontal lines should be at least 2 pixels high.


Navigation is accomplished using a keyboard, or possibly a remote control unit.. Only about a quarter of what appears as a "screenful" of information on a computer will display initially on a television screen. The screen shots below compare what is viewable on a workstation monitor (at left), and what is viewed on WebTV (at right). The portion outlined in red is all that will be viewable on WebTV's initial screen. The rest of the page will need to be scrolled.

Workstation Screenshot WebTV Screenshot
Screenshots courtesy of Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox article, WebTV Usablity Review. Used with permission.
Copyright © 1997 Jakob Nielsen. All rights reserved.


All Rights Reserved. Legal Notices.
Created: Jan. 1, 1997
Revised: Jan. 9, 1997

URL: http://www.webreference.com/dev/webtv/primary.html