Optimizing Your Website for TV

Google TV
Google TV is growing in popularity, so it is becoming important to make sure that your website looks good on the big screen. Google has released some basic tips and guidelines that should be used to create a website that is designed to look great on a TV.

It isn't much of a surprise that soon after websites became more accessible by phone; the next step was getting on the TV. Google TV includes a built in web browser that has complete functionality which means that current sites will already work. However, that doesn't mean that there isn't room for improvement. Google lays out several different ways that you can optimize your website for people viewing it on their TV.

There are a variety of different ways to optimize your website for TV, most of them fall into one of two categories: visual and technical. Here is a quick look at some of the most important things to keep in mind for both categories.

Visual Optimization

  • Clutter – Because viewers will be looking at your site on the TV, there should be more white space between all of your elements. While it is important on a regular website, it is even more critical if the website is being viewed on a TV.
  • Going Horizontal – Many TVs will have a lot more horizontal space than the average computer screen. This means that there are certain things that can be moved to side in order to make the most of the extra space. Most notably your navigation.
  • Going Bigger – Because people sit farther away from the TV than they do their computer screen, it is important to make sure that everyone is a little bigger, especially your fonts and graphics.
  • The Fold – So far, vertical scrolling does not seem to be as popular with TV users as with computer users. So placing all of your important content above the fold is even more important. Again, using the additional horizontal space can help you make sure that all of the important stuff is above the fold.
  • The Safe Zone – To make sure that everyone can see all of your content, the “safe zone” is essentially a 10% margin at each resolution.
  • Avoid “Pure White” - Pure white (FFFFFF) can cause image ghosting (vibrancy) on a TV.

Technical Optimization

  • Navigation – There are a variety of changes that may need to be made to your navigation menu for TV users, however a single “best practice” has not yet been agreed upon.
  • CSS – TV users will see the same URL as browser users so it is important to include a stylesheet for each media type (media=”TV”).
  • Redirection – Some people will prefer to redirect viewers to a different URL completely. Google has recommended that you use a 302 redirection with the rel=canonical attribute at the destination page.
  • Video Sitemap – Because users will still be searching through Google, it is important that your pages containing videos are optimized and that you create and submit video sitemap to Google.

Keep in mind that Google TV is still extremely new and a solid core of best practices has not yet been established. However, it is a safe assumption that a majority, if not all of these tips/guidelines will be considered common practice sooner rather than later.

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