Testing Websites in Game Console Browsers

by Anna Debenham

22 Reader Comments

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  1. For TV consoles the screen quality can vary hugely, depending on the type of connection (hdmi, scart, etc), especially if it’s not a high def set. That means type needs to be suitably big.
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  2. Great article, Anna. I couldn’t help but notice that in all of the examples in your illustrations, only the Xperia Play did what I would consider to be the right response for displaying the ALA web site: displaying it for mobile. Because as you observed, TVs aren’t used like desktop or laptop screens — they’re viewed from a distance, so they’re essentially the same form factor as a smartphone (minus the convenience of a touch interface). Yet all of the large screen examples are incorrectly acting like desktop or laptop screens, even though ALA has already been designed for mobile and TV displays. So, just being devil’s advocate for a moment here: are many game consoles and TVs actually “too broken” at the moment for designers to do much with them, given that media queries and user agent strings aren’t working to serve our mobile or responsive designs? It seems to me that a complete solution rests more on those devices’ manufacturers, if we can’t force that class of devices to serve our mobile / responsive designs today.
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  3. Kristofer, this is a good question. The reason the Xperia Play loaded up the mobile view and the others didn’t is because it’s the only one that identified itself in a way that the website understood to be mobile. But you make the point that the others would have benefited from this experience too. Some of the consoles have in-browser options to optimise the site, like the Wii has a button that linearises the whole page, and the 3DSXL has automatic text wrap. I think these are a good solution because even if we put in media queries, the screen width is the same as some desktop computers. User agent string detection isn’t a good idea either because they lie, and they don’t prepare us for all the weird devices that have yet to come out. What we can do at the moment is make our sites easier to use overall and consider how people will interact with them on a range of devices. Things like making click areas bigger improve the experience for not just the console, but also desktop and mobile experiences. I think this has to be considered from the design stage to be effective.
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  4. To me this is just frustrating. I agree, more contexts are inevitable, but by your example none of them have barely half of HTML5 or most modern standards supported. To me, I feel like we’re just enabling the laziness of browser developers. They make up a new context for us (“Now you can browse the web on your Fridge!”) but write a shitty custom browser or hack the crap out of an existing one (e.g. Opera for the Wii) and expect us to make up the work for it. I’m just venting but I think these companies need to understand that adhering to standards is important if they want people to design for their context.
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  5. Great article! The description of how the Wii remote is tiring to use after a while made me remember how much better it is than some of the other devices in the house with a browser. My Blu-Ray player has a browser (which I think is Chrome, I’ll double-check) but the cursor is controlled by mashing on directional buttons on the controller. It’s actually hard to find one that doesn’t have at least Netflix, Hulu, and Vudu players now, but I do wonder what the upgrade cadence for the devices will be, if any. Can console/peripheral browsers improve over time or are we stuck with a fragmented market as new products are introduced?
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  6. @Anna Thank you for taking the time and energy to put your article together, very informative! bq. I’m just venting but I think these companies need to understand that adhering to standards is important if they want people to design for their context. You’re right to vent. With more and more devices coming out with different flavors of browser technology it’s getting worse than 1997. I didn’t think that was possible. Perhaps it’s time “WASP”:http://www.webstandards.org (or a group like them) re-grouped and re-tooled for a new fight.
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  7. Internet Explorer is in beta on the X-box 360. It’s very sluggish and has very confusing controls. Hopefully it’ll be revised before it launches officially. With a pointer controlled with one thumb and scrolling on the other it’s not the easiest way to navigate around. Tempted to use Browser Detection to display a nice Halo loading screen :-)
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  8. Some of the consoles that failed to run the html5 tests are listed on the ‘high score’ tables at html5test.com (both the Wii and DSi score 89). http://html5test.com/results/gaming.html They’ve also got test results for various internet TVs.
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  9. Really intersting article, but I cannot agree with this: bq. I think these are a good solution because even if we put in media queries, the screen width is the same as some desktop computers. User agent string detection isn’t a good idea either because they lie if the vendors lie it’s their problem.
    Yes, on a revenue-generating website it’s my interest too that my site is more accessible, but we should just all help up (vendors+designers). If we could rely on user-agent information we could tailor a better experience: some websites now looks nicer on tablet than desktop! Oh, and you might consider to update the article for “Steam Big Picture”:store.steampowered.com/bigpicture/ ;)
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  10. blackdog, I feel your frustration and desire to tailor a better experience, but I don’t think user agent string sniffing would be the right way to go. Faruk Ate? wrote an article a while back about “why user agent stings lie”:http://farukat.es/journal/2011/02/499-lest-we-forget-or-how-i-learned-whats-so-bad-about-browser-sniffing bq. It was because of us web developers doing so much UA sniffing everywhere that browser vendors were forced to include each other’s strings It also doesn’t prepare us for the devices that will come out in the future. We’re going to see a whole range of different devices coming out that use a wide range of inputs, maintaining separate interfaces for all of them will be close to impossible.
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  11. Pixels look different on TVs. I wonder about techniques, or if it is possible to target game consoles with media queries. As a designer, I would prefer to tailor that experience. It is not just that type looks fuzzy, colors react differently.
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  12. Great post. To complicate matters further, something that should not be overlooked is the fact that people may be interacting with their TVs using other 3rd party remotes. For example, on PS3, if users have bought the PlayTV add-on (giving them TiVo style epg set up with no monthly fee) then it’s a fair bet they’ve bought the TV style Bluetooth remote that PlayTv encourages you to buy as a companion. When the BBC iPlayer Bigscreen experience first came out they clearly hadn’t tested their offering using that device, which made it hugely annoying to use because you couldn’t scrub through a programme properly. Thankfully their greatly improved version now works much better with this remote.
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  13. Back before I had a “smart phone” (and I was one of the last to adopt), I relied heavily on my Nintendo DSi XL’s browsers—and before that, I had that cartridge browser for the DS! When I was out of town, I’d hop on wifi, go to the mobile version of my email service, and get to work! When I redesigned my site at rachelnabors.com, I kept in mind how it would look on my “wee browser” and adopted my approach to suit. Does it look perfect? No. Is it usable and readable? Yes! Thanks for the numbers on teens and kids using these kinds of browsers. That’s so useful for companies trying to reach that demographic and further confirms that different people use different devices with different capabilities differently. Know your audience! Know your objectives!
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  14. I actually think the the navigation is good on the 360, and here the scores for the Beta, just hope some improvements for a final release. html5test.com -> 133 and 5 Bonus
    css3test.com   -> 32% and here a picture http://i46.tinypic.com/w1pi5z.jpg
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  15. Good article and great food for thought. I’m exhausted just thinking about all of that testing and troubleshooting…
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  16. My assistant is a huge gamer and brought the idea to me a year ago and I looked at him like he was crazy, but once you experience in a web design and the graphics in a gamers concept it does teach you how to create new concepts and reach to new clients. 
    Not only will handhelds be the new super highway but we have to remember this is a video game society and with ever growing systems being built the more accessibility we should demand from our clients sites
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  17. No worries for my target audience. people surfing the web on a Nintendo are not going to be able to buy a house…
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  18. Great article, thanks for sharing. I usually test all my websites in each of the major browsers, as well as on multiple operating systems.
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  19. Hi Anna. In my point of view, is ver very important test one website in the most platforms. I´m webmaster and I try to test my sites in all computers browsers, the most knowed pda and cell phones and some game consoles ... And when more complex is the site, more issues to solves to work and get nice look . I agree with NessThehero says , thats adherence to standards is very important… Today there are TV´s with browsers ... With this variety , our job needs to do more easy.
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  20. Because as you observed, TVs aren’t used like desktop or laptop screens — they’re viewed from a distance, so they’re essentially the same form factor as a smartphone (minus the convenience of a touch interface).I’m just venting but I think these companies need to understand that adhering to standards is important if they want people to design for their context.
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  21. I think, at least in the IE side, things should get better with the release of windows 8. Hopefully the increasing use of shared code across the different platforms will make things easier. I already have fewer problems on the apple side then I did in the past.
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  22. It is really becoming overwhelming with the number of devices we have to test for. For me, as a small company (ok, very small), I aim for the most popular (desktop, tablet, phone) and assume these other browsers have the chops to keep up. If not, I just can’t afford to test for everything!
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