Interactive TV

People are more frequently using their Apple TV, Smart TV, Roku, gaming platform, or Chromecast to watch over the top (OTT) services than on their mobile, tablet, or desktop devices. We consider the differences in context, input, and ergonomics that are essential to creating incredible TV experiences for our clients.


For users, most mobile and web apps require an elevated attention span, termed as a lean-forward experience. The best TV experiences embody a lean-back experience, or one that allows users to sink back into their couch and escape without requiring numerous interactions before accomplishing something (e.g. play-back video, make a purchase, etc). This lean-back philosophy is critical to consider when designing for TV.


Input for TV comes in many different forms. For example, for tvOS apps, users can either leverage the physical remote that comes with the device, or the Remote app for iOS on their iPhone. Either way, the input type is gesture driven, and designers must consider anticipatory UI, such as a subtle animation to help users quickly identify where a swipe is going to take them.


Designing for TV requires special attention to the much larger screen size, but that doesn’t mean a designer should just scale a mobile app to a 65” display. Average viewing distance (~6-9ft depending on size of TV) is critical to understand for designing the layout and typography of TV experiences to ensure optimal usability and legibility.

WillowTree is a leader in designing and developing Interactive TV apps for:

  • Apple TV / tvOS
  • Chromecast
  • Xbox One / Universal Windows Platform
  • PlayStation 4
  • Samsung Tizen
  • Roku