Absolute Radio

The first UK commercial radio station on Apple TV

Introduction

The Absolute Radio family of stations is made up of Absolute Radio, Absolute Classic Rock, Absolute Radio 60s, Absolute Radio 70s, Absolute Radio 80s, Absolute Radio 90s and Absolute Radio 00s.

From landmark documentaries to intimate live sessions, from festival exclusives to specialist programming.



The Goal

While working at Bauer, my design partner and I were tasked by the Product Manger to create a proof of concept for Apple TV for Absolute Radio.

The aim was to design a mimimum viable product that would increase the awareness of Absolute Radio as well as give the station a presence on a brand new digital platform. The real challenge was to complete the project end to end in 3 days. Could it be done? Challenge accepted.



The Approach


Layout

The normal principles of UX apply when designing for a new digital platform. However with Apple TV it is imperative to study the Apple Human Interface Guidelines.

The biggest consideration is that TVs come in all shapes and sizes. On Apple TV, app layouts don’t automatically adapt to the size of the screen like they do in iOS. Instead, apps show the same exact interface on every display. It's good to ensure that all of the assets are optimised for a screen resoulution of 1920 x 1080.




It's important to keep primary content away from the edges of the screen. Be mindful of the area spanning 60 pixels from the top and bottom of the screen, and 90 pixels from the sides. It’s difficult to see content that close to the edges, and unintended cropping can occur due to overscanning on older TVs. This is called the visual design safe zone





Typography


As a UX Designer you need to consider the enviroment of the user. The user is not going to be in close proximity to the screen. All text needs to be legible from a distance, so all typography needs to be a minimum of 30px using Apple's San Franscisco font.

My golden rule is always to show rather than tell the user, so this is a good exercise by reducing the amount of copy as much as possible. Remember users don't read they scan.





Process



Apart from the extremely tight timeframe, a big obstable was designing for a platform that I had never used before. No tool actually exist for prototyping on Apple TV, so there was a real learning curve. I had to familiarise myself with the interactions of Apple TV before I could design or create a proof of concept.






There was a LOT of trial and error and we realised certain interactions weren't going to work once we moved into the development phase. Thankfully because we had an intergrated and co-located development team we could make decisions quickly without costing time. The developers worked very hard and had turned around our design amends within days.


The Result

In early January 2016, Absolute Radio became the first UK commercial station to be released on Apple TV! It was quite an achievement and it shows that you don't need to release a feature rich application to make blaze a trail on a new digital platform.