Anna Debenham: What we can learn from console browsers

Orde Saunders' avatar Published: by Orde Saunders

Anna Debenham was talking about what we can learn from game console browsers at DiBi, these are my notes from her talk.

Looking for a product that can be used for the broadest spectrum of users. Game console browsers are a metaphor for all the browsers on anything with a screen - even taps!

Thinking of 'mobile', 'tablet' and 'desktop' never really held up before and it's certainly not sustainable. Device silos are a harmful way of thinking.

People who use console browsers are frequently young and from a lower income category - it may be the only way they can get online. Just because you don't use them don't dismiss them, especially for services that are essential for daily life: government services, banks &c.

Nintendo have an HTML/CSS/JS game SDK and most browsers (not iOS Safari) support game controllers.

Small screen interfaces are often easier to use on a TV that what we typically put into a wide screen interface. Maybe we're making our interfaces too complicated to fill up the space? Zooming is really important on a TV interface, text isn't designed to be read on a large screen at distance. Text may appear pixelated as the display is optimised for video.

Performance is critical: To keep the cost of devices low they typically have low memory, slow processors and low resolution screens.

People may not be going to your site from a console browser as a destination - they will probably be going there via a link in social media.

Mobile, tablet and desktop are only a fraction of the web's potential.

Interaction on these devices is weird - you have to think about different access methods. If your site works on these devices then they will work everywhere. Provide clear visual feedback for interactions.

When faced with an impossible range of devices then universal design is much more sustainable - you're not having to add a new design for each new device.

Device stats are notoriously inaccurate - Google Analytics doesn't show a lot of these devices. The devices are trying to avoid people building websites specifically for these devices: build device agnostic sites. The devices are starting to use better browsers as well because they know that makes their devices more useful to users.

Rather than assume that you know what device people are using - ask them. Allow them to set their preferences. Wrong assumptions are worse than correct assumptions.

If you are building for the web then you aren't trapped into one manufacturer's technology and ecosystem.