The AT&T TV Search Experience: Insights and Design Principles

Given the challenge to develop viable concepts for the search functionality of AT&T TV, this post is part three in a series chronicling my work in our Communications in Design course. Post one and two can be found here.

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The Challenge

AT&T TV is on a mission to center itself at the foundation of the viewer’s television ecosystem. With the goal of simplifying an expanding world of tv options into a single cohesive interface, AT&T is relying on its search functionality to differentiate among competitors, empowering users to sift through the noise.

But because more does not always feel like more, users prioritize content and services differently than they have in the past. AT&T TV must address the viewing priorities that users have adopted as a result.

Insights and Design Principles

Given the challenge to develop viable concepts for AT&T TV’s search experience, we are now in the phase of design dedicated to insights and design principles.

An insight is a definitive, provocative statement that offers a meaningful explanation of behavior. Insights are what connect research to design.

Design principles guide design decisions by evaluating what a proposed solution must achieve in order to be deemed successful. They are suggestive of a solution without being prescriptive.

After conducting secondary research, a comparative analysis, and *hypothetical contextual research, I have identified insights and design principles focused on context, connection, and curation.

Transforming Search Experience


Insight 1: Expectations for television change with the context in which it is watched

“At night, I watch my comforting reliable sitcoms on my laptop to help me fall asleep, but I’ll watch tv on my big screen when I invite over friends for our Bachelor viewing parties.”

– Trish, tv viewer

Design Principle: Search results should be driven by user context.

What this might do: Recommend and deliver results based on time of day, user location, and streaming device

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Insight 2: Viewers maintain and form community around television

“Content today is a cultural zeitgeist that unfolds in real-time, and people want to watch shows as they happen so they can participate in the global water cooler conversation.”

– Blake Morgan, Forbes

Design principle: Search functionality should be inspired by the community that forms around television

What this might do: Visualize the watching activity of friends or public profiles that users can follow

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Insight 3: The amount of content available exceeds viewers’ ability to sift through it

“The user either finds something of interest [within the first 60 or 90 seconds] or the risk of the user abandoning our service increases substantially.”

– Neil Hunt, Netflix’s chief product officer

Design Principle: Search results should anticipate user needs before they do

What this might do: Provide options for search goals (i.e. library browse versus search engine accuracy)

What’s next

AT&T can deliver a search experience that responds to user context, celebrates the community formed around television, and empowers users to seamlessly discover content that captivates them.

In the final phase of this project, we will create design concepts that are informed by our research and guided by design principles.



*Contextual interviews were not conducted as part of this assignment