Defining digital TV services for Telewest
As part of an ongoing relationship, we provided a range services in support of the development of digital interactive television (DiTV) applications for Telewest (now Virgin Media).
Telewest are one of the leading digital TV providers in the UK, offering TV and Broadband-based services to a wide cross-section of the population. Due to the diversity of Telewest subscribers it is important that all Telewest services are easy to use whilst meeting peoples' needs. We were asked to evaluate new designs for the core DiTV services and also to carry out in-depth research to help understand their customer needs during a series of pilot trials. In order to do this we carried out a number of activities.
Initially, SUS conducted an extensive round of usability testing with over 50 members of the public. As it was important to be sensitive to the social aspects of TV usage, the research participants took part in the study in pairs. These sessions were conducted at Telewest's own state-of-the-art facilities in Woking. With the benefit of our digital TV experience and our detailed analysis of these user sessions, we were able to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the proposed DiTV applications and make concrete design recommendations.
As Telewest also planned to roll out the new applications across a series of pilot homes we had an excellent opportunity to study user reactions to the changes in the natural context. We therefore conducted a number of home visits as a further validation exercise and also to allow us to perform customer needs mapping. SUS visited various homes across the country to study in-depth how people used and reacted to the new DiTV applications, as well as the new remote control design. Our skill with ethnographic and usability techniques allowed the SUS team to identify a great deal of rich data that could not be captured in the 'lab' setting.
The outcome of the activities outlined above was the improvement of the core interactive TV services as well as the development of highly regarded help documentation and marketing information, which was informed by our analysis of users actual needs