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Shift has evolved.

Shift Auckland is now Digital Arts Network.

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TVNZ Ondemand Apps

Integrating strategy with design and development ensured an optimum user experience across a maximum range of devices.

The Challenge

As the leading broadcaster in New Zealand, TVNZ has a primary goal of inspiring New Zealanders on every screen. However the shear scale, diversity and continued complexity of the ever-growing device landscape meant that the task of delivering content to mobile was no small feat. In short, the notion of native applications for each and every platform was simply unfeasible from a cost and scalability point of view.

This was where TVNZ turned to Digital Arts Network to deliver a digital strategy and user experience model. They were specifically interested in addressing the risk of exponential cost and effort that comes with growing a user-base across an increasingly fragmented set of devices. Digital Arts combines a strategic offering with award-winning design and development in-house, which provided a unique, and in this case invaluable offering to TVNZ.

Digital Strategy

First we worked with TVNZ to understand the key commercial and operational aspects of their business, as well as their own goals and objectives for Ondemand, now and in the future.

This meant understanding all the commercial aspects around licensing content, as well as internal systems, workflows and infrastructure around digital content storage, management, provisioning and delivery.  As well as understanding the business, we spent a great deal of time surveying and examining exactly how users interact with their mobile devices and Ondemand content, in particular what aspects might be distinct in the local market.

Coupling these insights with a set of business goals allowed us to define a clear vision to TVNZ for Ondemand across mobile platforms – one we knew would meet with user’s needs and wants.

The Digital Arts Network Auckland team have done an awesome job of understanding the needs of TVNZ Ondemand viewers while also working towards our business goals. Their user centered design ethos has been just what we were looking for. When you also throw in some serious coding expertise, great professional support and puppy-like enthusiasm they are a massive pleasure to work with.

Richard Beniston Online Product Manager - TV & TVNZ Ondemand Digital Media


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  • The joy of mobile testing.
  • Responsive user interface

Responsive App Design

Through user research and UI prototyping we uncovered common interfaces that could be used across a range of screen sizes and aspect ratios. This allowed us to focus on just two primary design systems that would adapt in a responsive manner to devices of (increasingly) all shapes and sizes. In fact our design system performed so well that it worked flawlessly on new the taller-screened iPhone 5 even though the device did not exist at the time of specification.

This responsive technique is typically used for websites, but adopting the approach for application interfaces means that TVNZ doesn’t need to constantly redesign and rebuild the interface every time a new device or screen size arrives on the market.

Developing rich experiences in HTML

A second area of focus for us was to utilise a common framework that would allow us to develop app experiences across a range of platforms without having to write, and maintain multiple code-bases. Again we looked to HTML mobile frameworks, typically used for more simple page-based apps. We wanted to see if we could craft a rich and intuitive experience above and beyond what these solutions typically offer. We decided to Brightcove’s App Cloud platform because it offered deep integration with TVNZ’s video system as well as a solid foundation for what we intended to achieve. Working hand-in-hand with Brightcove as they evolved App Cloud, allowed us to share our own approaches and new aspects of the framework we were most keen to use.

By testing our interfaces and live working prototypes with users we achieved exactly what we were after – an amazing, beautiful application that feels smooth and fast, built on a common HTML multiplatform code-base.

New screens, new advertising formats

During our extensive user research we discovered the different ways that people expected to see and interact with advertising on touch-based devices. This meant we needed to craft a range of advertising placements in the app, again that would work across a range of screen sizes, and platforms. We devised the Creative Sandbox with gives advertisers a rich HTML5 playground to bring their messages to life with features such as motion detection, geo-location and device rotation – all features that make more engaging and useful user experiences.

A foundation for growth

By partnering with Digital Arts Network Auckland, TVNZ have ensured they will  continue to grow their Ondemand offering both in functionality and in footprint without all the typical issues of scale and complexity.

I couldn't be happier about the outcome. We always enjoy collaborating with Digital Arts Network and they were with us right from the outset adding strategic thinking and research capabilities. If you are designing interactive products, its worth checking out DAN's world class design and delivery team.

Tom Cotter General Manager of Digital Media - TVNZ