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The Smashing Book #5

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TV Show Web Designs: Trends and Examples

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Looking at websites from major industries that involve various forms of media can be interesting practice. In the past we have showcased websites from movies1 and from musicians on the Billboard charts2, and today we’ll feature the websites of more than 50 TV shows. The websites of TV shows are intended to generate interest in the show to improve ratings, and to provide information about the show (and sometimes past episodes) for those people who are already fans of the show. To accomplish this they attempt to create an attractive, interactive website that appeals to visitors.

As you browse through the sites that are featured in this showcase, here are some of the trends that you may notice:

1. On the Network’s Domain
Many, but not all, websites of TV shows are located on the networks domain. This helps to unify the websites of the various shows on the network and can even help visitors of the site to remember what network a particular show is on.

2. Similarities of Sites from the Same Network
Like other types of networks of websites, TV networks tend to use similar layouts or design styles for the sites of their various shows. While things like pictures, color schemes, background images and other details will change, the basic layout will often be the same as the sites of other shows. It’s also common for the network’s sites to have a standard navigation menu or header that will also link to the other sites on the network.

3. Video
Not surprisingly, video is very common on the websites of TV shows. Most sites include trailers and/or episodes that can be watched online.

4. Vibrant
TV show websites tend to include a lot of color, big backgrounds, and vibrant images and photos. In an entertainment-driven industry, making the sites visually appealing and attention-grabbing is the typical approach.

Showcase of TV Show Websites Link

Californication

Californication

Dexter

Dexter

Lie To Me3

Lie To Me4

Dr. House5

House6

Fringe7

Fringe8

Curb Your Enthusiasm9

Curb Your Enthusiasm10

In Treatment11

In Treatment12

Simpsons13

Simpsons14

True Blood15

True Blood16

Gossip Girl

Gossip Girls

NCIS17

NCIS18

Family Guy19

Family Guy20

Listener

Listener

Bones21

Bones22

Terminator23

Terminator24

2425

2426

Great American Road Trip27

Great American Road Trip28

King of Queens29

King of Queens30

Reaper31

Reaper32

Canada’s Next Top Model33

Canada's Next Top Model34

Dancing with the Stars35

Dancing with the Stars36

Heroes37

Heroes38

Flashpoint39

Flashpoint40

The Late Show41

The Late Show42

Skins43

Skins44

Brothers and Sisters45

Brothers and Sisters46

More to Love47

More to Love48

Dollhouse49

Dollhouse50

Prison Break51

Prison Break52

The Middle53

The Middle54

Big Brother55

Big Brother56

House of Jazmin57

House of Jazmin58

Lost59

Lost60

American Idol61

American Idol62

Kitchen Nightmares63

Kitchen Nightmare64

Cougar Town65

Cougar Town66

Harper’s Island67

Harper's Island68

The Tonight Show69

Tonight Show70

Desperate Housewives71

Desparate Housewives72

Parks and Recreation73

Parks and Recreation74

Grey’s Anatomy75

Grey's Anatomy76

America’s Got Talent77

America's Got Talent78

Chopping Block79

Chopping Block80

The T.O. Show81

The T.O. Show82

Monk83

Monk84

Footnotes Link

  1. 1 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/02/09/movie-website-designs-examples-and-current-practices/
  2. 2 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/11/24/billboard-top-40-design-showcase/
  3. 3 http://www.fox.com/lietome/
  4. 4 http://www.fox.com/lietome/
  5. 5 http://www.fox.com/house/
  6. 6 http://www.fox.com/house/
  7. 7 http://www.fox.com/fringe/
  8. 8 http://www.fox.com/fringe/
  9. 9 http://www.hbo.com/larrydavid/
  10. 10 http://www.hbo.com/larrydavid/
  11. 11 http://www.hbo.com/intreatment/
  12. 12 http://www.hbo.com/intreatment/
  13. 13 http://www.thesimpsons.com/index.html
  14. 14 http://www.thesimpsons.com/index.html
  15. 15 http://www.hbo.com/trueblood/
  16. 16 http://www.hbo.com/trueblood/
  17. 17 http://www.cbs.com/primetime/ncis/
  18. 18 http://www.cbs.com/primetime/ncis/
  19. 19 http://www.fox.com/familyguy/
  20. 20 http://www.fox.com/familyguy/
  21. 21 http://www.fox.com/bones/
  22. 22 http://www.fox.com/bones/
  23. 23 http://www.fox.com/terminator/
  24. 24 http://www.fox.com/terminator/
  25. 25 http://www.fox.com/24/
  26. 26 http://www.fox.com/24/
  27. 27 http://www.nbc.com/great-american-road-trip/
  28. 28 http://www.nbc.com/great-american-road-trip/
  29. 29 http://www.thekingofqueens.com/
  30. 30 http://www.thekingofqueens.com/
  31. 31 http://www.e4.com/reaper/
  32. 32 http://www.e4.com/reaper/
  33. 33 http://model.ctv.ca/
  34. 34 http://model.ctv.ca/
  35. 35 http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/dancing-with-the-stars
  36. 36 http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/dancing-with-the-stars
  37. 37 http://www.nbc.com/Heroes/
  38. 38 http://www.nbc.com/Heroes/
  39. 39 http://www.cbs.com/primetime/flashpoint/
  40. 40 http://www.cbs.com/primetime/flashpoint/
  41. 41 http://www.cbs.com/late_night/late_show/
  42. 42 http://www.cbs.com/late_night/late_show/
  43. 43 http://www.e4.com/skins/
  44. 44 http://www.e4.com/skins/
  45. 45 http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/brothers-and-sisters
  46. 46 http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/brothers-and-sisters
  47. 47 http://www.fox.com/moretolove/
  48. 48 http://www.fox.com/moretolove/
  49. 49 http://www.fox.com/dollhouse/
  50. 50 http://www.fox.com/dollhouse/
  51. 51 http://www.fox.com/prisonbreak/
  52. 52 http://www.fox.com/prisonbreak/
  53. 53 http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/the-middle
  54. 54 http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/the-middle
  55. 55 http://www.channel4.com/bigbrother/
  56. 56 http://www.channel4.com/bigbrother/
  57. 57 http://www.mtv.com/ontv/dyn/house_of_jazmin/series.jhtml
  58. 58 http://www.mtv.com/ontv/dyn/house_of_jazmin/series.jhtml
  59. 59 http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/lost
  60. 60 http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/lost
  61. 61 http://www.americanidol.com/
  62. 62 http://www.americanidol.com/
  63. 63 http://www.fox.com/kitchennightmares/
  64. 64 http://www.fox.com/kitchennightmares/
  65. 65 http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/cougar-town
  66. 66 http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/cougar-town
  67. 67 http://www.cbs.com/primetime/harpers_island/
  68. 68 http://www.cbs.com/primetime/harpers_island/
  69. 69 http://www.tonightshowwithconanobrien.com/
  70. 70 http://www.tonightshowwithconanobrien.com/
  71. 71 http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/desperate-housewives
  72. 72 http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/desperate-housewives
  73. 73 http://www.nbc.com/parks-and-recreation/
  74. 74 http://www.nbc.com/parks-and-recreation/
  75. 75 http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/greys-anatomy
  76. 76 http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/greys-anatomy
  77. 77 http://www.nbc.com/americas-got-talent/
  78. 78 http://www.nbc.com/americas-got-talent/
  79. 79 http://www.nbc.com/chopping-block/
  80. 80 http://www.nbc.com/chopping-block/
  81. 81 http://www.vh1.com/shows/the_to_show/series.jhtml
  82. 82 http://www.vh1.com/shows/the_to_show/series.jhtml
  83. 83 http://www.usanetwork.com/series/monk/
  84. 84 http://www.usanetwork.com/series/monk/
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Steven Snell is a Web designer and blogger. In addition to maintaining his own blog and writing for a number of other top design blogs, he also manages an online shop that offers premium graphic design resources.

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  1. 1

    This was inspiring! Should help on the next project !

    0
  2. 2

    Interesting from the graphic design point of view. I’ll make sure to come back to this article when looking for ispiration for my next website layout. It seems like the all tend to use large background images.

    0
  3. 3

    Dexter it’s my fav ^_^

    0
  4. 4

    Awesome, awesome, awesome. Love ’em all. Except for the American Road Trip one. That shit just gave me a headache.

    0
  5. 5

    Nice, but you could have included some samples from other countries, the world isn’t america!

    0
  6. 6

    Most TV and video websites, the above included, are awful from a user’s standpoint. How well do these designs scale down to a smartphone and up to a large HDTV display? How do you navigate on different platforms with different video scale and different pointing devices?

    These website ignore all the research that defines good UX/UI and do their own things. Too much attention to shiny (form). Too little attention to the user and navigation (function).

    Stunning graphics do not equate to good design.

    0
  7. 7

    do people really go to these types of websites????

    0
  8. 8

    Richard,

    I agree with you to a degree, but understand that most of these sites have mobile versions and auto-detect. Especially for iPhone, which doesn’t do Flash video.

    Patrick Ortman

    0
  9. 9

    Most TV and video websites, the above included, are awful from a user’s standpoint.

    This.

    0
  10. 10

    It is great seeing screen shots of the same channel side by side so you can see the templated element, but towards the end of the article that was lost since they were jumbled up.

    I would have liked to have seen them all in order based on their channel. That would have made the similarities more apparent and inspirational.

    0
  11. 11

    I didn’t look at the source code on all of them…but any ideas on if these are built on Joomla, Drupal, WordPress, Expression Engine, hand-coded xHTML/CSS?

    It would be interesting to know, from an admin standpoint, what platform “most” of these are on.

    0
  12. 12

    @allan – Given these are big budget TV shows… I doubt many of them are open source platforms. I could be wrong… but they have money. A lot of major network sites reuse the same system for all affiliate sites.

    Answer: Built from the ground up but reused ad nauseum.

    0
  13. 13

    Most TV and video websites, the above included, are awful from a user’s standpoint.

    Not true

    For people who watch this kinds of stuff and are addicted to new episodes and characters are their heroes or imagined lovers or whatever, this type of design is fantastic,.

    Just bomb them with images of their favorite characters, shoot them preview of next episode or offer latest full episode – that is what they want as they are addicted.

    They don’t care about anything but images and videos, so all rules of usability, website architecture and whatever else doesn’t matter.

    Best rule of good websites: Give visitors what they want

    0
  14. 14

    @allan and Anrkist.

    I worked for an agency where we did a lot of work on NBC sites. They are in the process of moving everything over from a pricey enterprise class CMS (which will remain un-named) to Moveable Type as it is able to handle everything they need and sites can be deployed without large teams of programmers.

    Of course, this is only one network but I’m sure there are others who realize the power and potential of some of these out-of-the-box CMS/Blog engines.

    0
  15. 15

    99% of them are very very poorly optimized…

    0
  16. 16

    Great choice of genre, creative. Thanks. :)

    0
  17. 17

    Let’s be real about the purpose of these sites, they are suppose to support and sell the TV show and characters, that’s it. So from that point of view I think these sites are great fun on design as well as entertainment. If I wanted more I’d visit a news site or better yet read a book…. there’s thought… All and all this sites are a great example of what can be done with a lot of money. Good times.

    0
  18. 18

    In Italy this is unreal! These things don’t happen yet!

    0
  19. 19

    Some really nice visual designs showcased here, nice to see a couple of UK channels thrown in too :o) Some great inspiration if you are doing this kind of website…

    0
  20. 20
  21. 21

    i used to work in tv its design isnt its forte

    0
  22. 22

    Los Angeles Wood Designer

    September 2, 2009 4:05 am

    Some great sites for compare & contrast. You can see where the originality is needed.

    0
  23. 23

    When I first saw the post, I was a little bit disappointed. I thought it would be boring reading, but I was totally wrong.

    I have now went trough several of the sites’ source code, and maaaan, that’s inspiring.

    What I’ve learned, is that most of the sites uses enormous backgrounds, and PNG with semi-transparency to imitate opacity.

    One site even used a enormous PNG at like 1400x1400px… That I didn’t understand. Why would you make a semi-transparent PNG so big, instead of just making it tile??

    Thanks for the post… I am a true fan! :-)

    0
  24. 24

    I’ve been to the CW webpages… I think the color scheme and layout is awful. It shouldn’t even be up there. At least the other ones are more visually appealing, at the least.

    0
  25. 25

    I love how Fox dumped TSCC but they kept the website, it is one of the finest media designs I saw

    0
  26. 26

    I really like ABC’s design and layout sense. They tend to be well developed, good imagery to create the mood the show sets, and whoever they have to design and develop their sites really know their stuff. Clean, navigable, good imagery, good development. Developing ABC’s sites looks like a monster. All of the episodes, Flash players, back-end development and getting everything to tie together. Huge chore. But works great.
    MTV/ VH1 has some cool, alternative looking stuff. They need to go back to strictly music. CW is too teeny bopper to me. Not very navigable.
    NBC looks like they tend to throw as much stuff on the page as possible. I completely get lost trying to find anything.
    Showtime, HBO and Fox have similar layouts but are pretty appealing visually and they are decent to navigate. But Fox has some weird player they developed. Had to down load that to watch Family Guy. Stick with the industry standards for interactives.

    0
  27. 27

    But where is Deadliest Catch website?

    0
  28. 28

    From a design point of view they are all very busy and image-heavy. Listener, True Blood and Curb Your Enthusiam caught my attention because of their relative simplicity and, to me, they are the more attractive looking.
    Living in a third world country, with bad bandwidth (as I do), I tend not to frequent sites that have video, as they are painfully slow

    0
  29. 29

    For the most part, these are very similar and there is little originality in them. Almost none of them stand out.

    The Heroes one is a mess, though.

    0
  30. 30

    Most of the sites are not unique, about half of the shows on Fox all use the same template just different colors and images.

    Seems more like a collection of websites of the authors favorite shows as opposed to trends in the genre

    0

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