Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Top TV listing guides by usability

Amongst other things this Easter weekend my family and I had some time to catch up on TV. It reminded me that there was once a time when everyone simply picked up a hard copy of the Radio Times to get an idea of what to watch and when. However, the way we choose programming and watch TV is hugely different to yesteryear.

I took some time out to compare some of the best TV listing sites out there and give a fair review on each of them. There are more than a dozen websites offering TV guides, but I think the following five sites fair better than others, purely because of the their ease of use and interactivity:

1. TV Guide Listing - a great site for getting a whole day’s worth of TV listings of all channels available in the UK, in a single page. Showing weekly and daily programme highlights in photos means you don’t have to read lots of details. The site also lets users view programmes by genre and provides a platform for viewers to discuss programmes.

2. Sky TV Listing – on Sky TV Listing all programmes are tagged by genres, which means you can easily search and browse programmes suited to your interest. Brilliantly designed, the site gives users the option to change viewing format from a simple list to a grid view. If you’re a subscriber already you can also remotely record your favourite TV shows through the website.

3. Tiscali TV Guide – really easy to use, this site offers user ratings on all programmes. It also allows users to fully customise their listings by channel, a feature that other TV listing sites don’t do well.

4. Radio Times – is practically the same as all of above, but it offers fewer and more structured channel listings. It also lists radio programmes and films on a separate tab. In addition, you can also view exclusive behind the scene photos and features which what makes it worth revisiting.

5. On the Box – works similarly to all the aforementioned services, but the site also provides independent reviews on programmes some of which are highly amusing to read. It's worth checking out.

All of above TV listing sites have great usability features. In a few years time, I can see these types of services becoming widely available on TV screens, giving viewers greater flexibility in accessing over-the-top (OTT) information and third party reviews, so you don't have to flick through pages and pages of TV listings with a pen in your hand.

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