What’s wrong with broadcast UX?

Is there anything called broadcast UX (at all)? I had been meaning to talk about it for a while now; and I got an opportunity to capture comparable images last weekend (while all top 5 news channels were showing exactly the same content).

Hari Nallan

For those who hadn’t seen this on TV, I have taken these photos while all the news channels were showing election results and they were all broadcasting Amit Shah’s press conference (the exact same clip on all channels). Let’s not worry about Amit Shah for the time being.

Above is a montage of the five channels I’d been talking about. Times Now, NDTV, CNN, CNBC and India Today. All of them, culprits and a few more than the other. What’s surprising to me is the shocking sense of design across all the national players (or the lack of it)!

There is this story of the “design intern” and his “design-smart boss” that I imagine…

Oops, Sir, did you just ask me to take colors from the logo?

Oh, yes, what were you thinking? I would do that as an intern, too… if the logo has blue and red, bingo! Let’s paint our screen blue and red. Never mind it’s jarring effect on people’s eyes, they’ll at least recall our brands. It easy to sell such a design to stakeholders, don’t you get it?

And the typo? What shall I do about it?

Stop asking stupid questions. Didn’t you learn in your art school, “bolder the better”? Just follow it.

Wow, a lesson in art indeed, Sir!

Sir, and the animations…

Oh come on, don’t be so dumb now. Didn’t you practice that in your first week at multimedia class?

Sir, bbbbbbut… the tickers, the fadein fadeouts, the motion blurs, the font stretches… you are asking for a lot of them… don’t you think they are a little too much?

What? You are certainly overthinking now. The people love them, boss! Why do you think most of the corporate PPTs have those umpteen graphics and animations? Why? Because people just love them!

Ok, I did what all you asked me to do, Sir. But I think the Usability sucks. I can’t comprehend a thing and I’m stressed…

Listen, buddy, don’t you worry. Usability is the opposite of Visibility and the brief has clearly stated “Visibility” and “More visibility”. See, you’re still an intern, you need to really understand the market, my dear! But you’ll get there.

I have another problem, Sir!

Now what? It’s looking sexy and you’ve done a great job. This design will sell!

Do you see the grayscale image above? There’s something called color value I read about in school. I discovered that the value of all the colors are almost similar when I see screens in greyscale. That would mean that users cannot differentiate one thing from the other, without straining their eyes…

Look, dear. Firstly, no one has a black and white television anymore. Secondly, once you are out of school, you need to unlearn what you studied at school. The market functions differently and you’ll need to warm up to this fact… and thirdly, don’t worry about the users. Don’t you remember what Steve Jobs said about users? He said, “Users are fools”. So, if you are a believer in Steve Jobs, do what I’m telling you to. Don’t worry, you’ll learn a lot from me.

And by the way, what are the news anchors doing? They are yelling all the time anyway!

While the intern was totally unconvinced of his boss’s design sensibilities throughout the conversation, he learned a very important life lesson: The users who appreciate newsroom cacophony, deserve a design no better than this. He went on to become the most successful broadcast designer of all time!
Hari Nallan

Hari Nallan

Founder and CEO of Think Design, a Design leader, Speaker and Educator. With a master's from NID and in the capacity of a founder, Hari has influenced, led and delivered several experience driven transformations across industries. As the CEO of Think Design, Hari is the architect of Think Design's approach and design centered practices and the company's strategic initiatives.


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