• Electronic Programming Guide (EPG): What You Should About Design and Development?


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    Electronic Programming Guide (EPG): What You Should About Design and Development?

    January 23, 2024

    Android TV
    Mykola Breslavskyi

    AUTHOR

    Mykola Breslavskyi

    CTO

    What is EPG

    An Electronic Programming Guide (EPG) is an electronically generated menu system that provides users with a schedule for broadcast and on-demand content. It is a vital component of most satellite, cable, and over-the-top television services as it helps users plan their viewing experience by providing a convenient overview of the available options.

    EPG works by gathering metadata from content providers, which is then organized and displayed to the viewer, allowing for easy navigation and selection of television programming.

    What are the Types of EPGs

    Not all EPGs appear the same – they can be categorized based on functionality and interactiveness. Here are four basic types of electronic programming guides.
    Single Channel EPG: only show the schedule for one channel at a time. They're often used by streaming services with just one live channel, like news or sports channels.
    Multi-Channel EPG: show the schedules for multiple channels, usually side-by-side or in a grid format. This is the most common type of EPG, used by cable and satellite TV providers, streaming services with multiple channels, and smart TVs.
    Non-Interactive EPG: only allows viewers to browse the program schedule. Users can't set reminders or recordings or interact with the content in any way. These are becoming less common as technology advances.
    Interactive EPG: allows users to interact with the content in a variety of ways: set reminders and recordings, search for specific programs, and even get recommendations based on their viewing habits. Many interactive EPGs also allow viewers to access additional information about programs, such as trailers, cast interviews, and behind-the-scenes footage.
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    Essential Features of EPG

    Electronic programming guides offer several basic features to enhance the viewing experience. Here they are:
    Program Listings: display schedules for different channels.
    Channel Navigation: easy browse and switch between channels.
    Program Search: find programs by title, genre, actor, or even keywords.
    Program Information: display description, rate, duration, cast and other details of the show.
    Program Reminders: notifications on when users’ favorite shows are about to start.
    Schedule Planning: create a viewing schedule of upcoming shows.
    Interactive Features: participate in favorite shows through voting, purchasing merchandise, or participating in quizzes.
    Parental Controls: decide on what content your children will watch.
    Real-Time Updates: reflect any last-minute changes in broadcasting schedules.

    EPG Design: Insights from Industry Expert

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    What colors should be used in EPG design?

    Colors should be pleasing to the eye and ensure readability. It is recommended to use contrasting colors to define different elements and emphasize important information points.

    What fonts should be used in EPG design?

    Choose fonts that are easy to read on a TV screen. Ensure that the font size is easy to read, especially when viewed from a distance.

    What principles/approaches should be used to make EPG design user-friendly? Tell us about your approach to creating a user interface that would be convenient and intuitive for different categories of users.

    Creating a user-friendly and intuitive EPG design requires careful consideration of the needs of different categories of users.

    1. Arrange information in a contextual way, taking into account the usual places of users' gaze. For example, popular channels or programs can be conveniently located closer to the center of the screen.
    2. Develop a logical menu structure and navigation paths.
    3. Provide the ability to select and save settings.
    4. Provide contrast between colors to improve readability.
    5. Provide detailed information about programs, including time and duration.
    6. Provide responsive design for different screen sizes, including high-resolution TVs and smaller screens.
    7. Take into account the needs of users with disabilities, ensuring accessibility and usability.
    8. Use algorithms to organize content by popularity or views.

    How do you solve the problems of visual hierarchy and readability of information in EPG, especially with many TV programs and channels? How do you make sure that users are comfortable with the viewing and navigation experience?

    1. Allow users to filter by genre, time, popularity. Sort alphabetically or by other criteria.
    2. Use different colors to mark categories or highlight important information.
    3. Show only the information you need at a glance, and reveal details on hover or additional tap.
    4. Provide quick navigation with arrows or shortcuts.
    5. Add tooltips or short descriptions to apps for a quick overview.
    6. Avoid over-saturated design. Minimize the display of unnecessary information.
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    How do you integrate branding and design aspects into EPG? How do you take into account the requirements of different TV channels and platforms to display their content in EPG, while ensuring unity and cooperation with the entire system?

    We need to use each TV channel's colors and logos to reflect their brand.
    Despite the individuality of each channel, create an overall design that adds unity throughout the EPG.

    What mistakes in EPG design do professionals often make?

    1. Using a small font size or insufficient contrast can make information difficult to read.
    2. Inserting too much information on the screen can make it unreadable and confusing.
    3. Using aggressive or non-contrasting colors can affect readability and visual comfort.
    4. A complicated navigation system can lead to the user's loss in finding the necessary information.
    5. Failure to consider user needs for functionality such as filtering and sorting.
    6. Lack of design consistency between different parts of the EPG can create the impression of carelessness.
    7. Lack of adaptation for different types of TVs and platforms can affect the efficiency of use.
    8. An outdated or unattractive design can affect users' perception of the system.

    What Tips for EPG Design Can You Give?

    1. Make the interface simple and clear, avoid unnecessary information to facilitate the use.
    2. Use high contrast and easy-to-read fonts for better visibility on the screen.
    3. Develop a user-friendly navigation system where users can quickly find the information they need.
    4. Add interactivity elements such as search options to make it easier to select TV programs.
    5. Ensure adaptability for different screen sizes and platforms to optimize space utilization.
    6. Use clear icons and graphics to visualize information and make it easier to understand.
    7. Choose calm colors that don't tire the eyes and use them consistently.
    8. Ensure balanced layout and structure of elements for aesthetic appeal.
    9. Provide filtering and sorting options so that users can quickly find the content they need.
    10. Conduct testing with users to gather feedback and improve the design based on real needs.
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    Q&A session on EPG with a tech expert

    Let's talk about EPG's technological peculiarities and pitfalls with Volodymyr Khodonovych — co-founder & CEO at Perfsol. He has 12 years of tech experience, specializing in web and mobile development and UI/UX design. Volodymyr has extensive expertise in various niches, but his most beloved ones are fintech and telecom.

    1. What features should EPG have?

    The basic set of EPG program guide features typically looks like the following:

    1. Program Listings are needed to display different program details (titles, times, etc.)
    2. Channel Navigation to ensure effortless switching between channels
    3. Program Search to help users quickly find particular programs they are looking for
    4. Program Information that provides a complete description of the program, including cast details and ratings
    5. Program Reminders — probably one the most beloved features of the customers as it doesn't let you forget about the beginning of your favorite show
    6. Schedule Planning, which is used to browse and mark the programs you’re going to watch
    7. Interactive Features — various ads, polls, and other interactive elements are crucial to increasing customer engagement and loyalty
    8. Parental Controls to protect children from inappropriate content
    9. Real-time Updates to quickly inform users of schedule changes or other vital information

    2. How do you collect and update electronic program guides (EPG) data? Tell us about the algorithm or process you use to get up-to-date information about a TV program.

    First, you must find reliable data sources (broadcasters, content providers, TV guides, or networks). Typically, they offer APIs, so you can use them to extract schedules and other essential details.
    When you get the needed information, you should adapt it to the format appropriate for your EPG system. This process is called data parsing and often means converting the data into XML or JSON formats.
    Then, you should take care of the update process as you should always be aware of programming schedules, new shows, cancellations, or rescheduling to provide your users with the relevant content and info.
    To ensure maximal security and privacy and avoid penalties, you should adhere to API rate limits and authentication requirements.
    And last but not least, optimize the process for efficiency and accuracy. Pay attention to caching and indexing, as they can significantly boost your performance.

    3. How do you ensure that data in the EPG TV guide is synchronized and consistent across devices and platforms? What strategies do you employ to avoid conflicts and guarantee that the information remains consistent for users?

    Our first and foremost rule — is to use a centralized database for EPG storage. Such a database ensures that all devices and platforms access the same source and get the same information, so the ecosystem is consistent.
    Also, enabling instant interaction between the server and connected devices is crucial. You can achieve this by using web sockets and push notifications.

    4. What technologies and standards do you employ to display EPGs on various devices and platforms, such as TVs, smartphones, and computers? How do you manage adaptation to different screen resolutions and display formats?

    Nice question! Here are several things I consider the most important:

    1. RESTful APIs:
      Such APIs are ideal for building scalable, flexible, and interoperable platforms and ensure standardized data retrieval approaches.
    2. Device Detection Mechanism:
      It’s a great tool to define the type of device accessing the EPG application. Based on this, your EPG can adapt the user interface and display optimized data.
    3. Adaptive Streaming:
      Use protocols like HLS (HTTP Live Streaming) or DASH (Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP). They are easily adjustable to different network conditions and device capabilities.
    4. TV Application Platforms:
      Tizen (Samsung), webOS (LG), or Android TV often provide SDKs and guidelines for creating TV-optimized applications, so I recommend using them.

    5. What modern solutions speed up the development and ensure the stability of the EPG app?

    Well, excellent UI/UX is not an innovation. Nevertheless, it’s a must if your goal is to boost user satisfaction and engagement. It’s much easier to build an intuitive interface and apply the latest technologies when your solution is custom-built, like those developed by Perfsol https://github.com/PerfsolTech/EPGView.

    Also, I recommend implementing caching. This can help reduce server load and significantly enhance response times and performance.

    Employ CDNs for efficient content delivery, especially for images, logos, and additional metadata associated with TV programs. This can improve the overall user experience and reduce load times.

    Mykola Breslavskyi

    AUTHOR

    Mykola Breslavskyi

    CTO

    I am passionate about technologies. Adore solving challenges of our customers: going under the tech problem and trying to deal with a reason rather than a symptom. I do believe that is why our clients choose Perfsol.

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