In the five years I've worked in station services at PBS, I don't know how many times someone at PBS asks me some variation of "what do stations really need?" Now, I've never presumed to have an all-seeing eye that can predict the requirements for new tools that are going to serve the most stations. That's why we have station advisory committees, conduct station surveys and try to get as much face time with station staff at major conferences as possible. But from my five years, I think I can say a few things with confidence:
1. Our system is incredibly diverse.
2. Every tool and service we release needs to be as flexible as possible.
3. It's close to impossible to release a product that meets everyone's needs.
We focus on the features that are going to serve the needs of the largest number of stations, and provide maximum flexibility so that stations can make adjustments as they need to.
From the user feedback we're getting on the new DTV modules, we may have missed one key feature:
There is no longer a full week view on the full TV schedule grid, and that's a problem.
I don't think it's worth spending a lot of time discussing how we came to that decision. It had to do with trying to find a usable way of navigating through some much data on a single screen with all of our interactive features (favorites, highlighting, etc), and not seeing a clear way to make it an effective user experience.
Judging by the
Luckily we planned for this. Sort of. Let me explain -
Because the TV Schedules system is so mind-bogglingly complicated, we knew from the on-set of this project that in order to get the service rebuilt in time for stations to implement by February 17th, we would have to develop at the speed of light and make some tough decisions. We also knew that it was entirely possible some decisions made could be the wrong ones and we would have to correct.
Enter our new versioning strategy.
In order to truly overhaul our online tune-in service, we wanted to transform it into a living, breathing tool that could be improved and enhanced incrementally instead of being left to languish for 5 years like the code for our old tune-in modules. In fact, we're getting ready to start work in the next few weeks on a handful of improvements and tweaks that will be a v1.1 release of the tool.
Near the top of our list for that release is the inclusion of a printable full week program guide that will give users easy access to a full-week's snapshot of your schedule.
We're also gearing up to conduct some comprehensive user testing on the tools to identify other areas where there is the greatest need for change. The new DTV Schedules are at baseline and will require some real-world experience to determine which enhancements and features should come next.
And, most importantly, we'll need your continued input. After all, these tools are for you to help your
I'm excited by the prospects for this new suite of tools. The new TV Schedules API is going to give stations and producers so many more opportunities to experiment with ways to use tune-in information, and everyone I talk to here at PBS is salivating at the idea of using the API to get tune-in information integrated with COVE. With all the innovative talent in our system, who knows where these schedules can go?